The United States men’s national team has the top spot in Group A at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup secured with 1 game remaining but will try and finish strong when they face Panama at Sporting Park in Kansas City on Monday night. Marching behind the Stars and Stripes will be the American Outlaws Kansas City chapter and they have a treat up their sleeve that will turn heads and set the tone for the game.
AO KC has been planning and working on a tifo for the past couple of weeks. With no expertise in putting a tifo together, the supporter’s group reached out to friends in the Sporting Kansas City supporters group, the Cauldron, for the display which will cover most of 3 sections of the south stand after the singing of the U.S. national anthem.
“(Our tifo) is something cool that one of our designers came up with as we talked about what we could do for the Gold Cup match,” AO Kansas City’s Matt Wilson told 365.WorldSoccerShop. “It shows our humor and some of the goofiness we all have inside but most of all our passion for the game and our team. Fans need to check it out!”
“We have a unique design. It started out as kind of a joke but the more we thought about it the more we liked the idea. We ran it by the CONCACAF representatives thinking they would not approve it but they did right away so props to them. It will come down right after the national anthem on the south stand. Hopefully FOX picks it up and gets a good camera shot of it.”
Thinking outside the box for ways to support the Stars and Stripes is nothing new for AO KC. The chapter was formed by American Outlaws founding member Chris Donahoo and a group of friends and it all started with a post on BigSoccer for a watch party to view the U.S. MNT vs Sweden game to open the 2009 campaign.
“At the time there wasn’t social media like we know it today and facebook was still relatively new, so I posted on BigSoccer for the Wizards (MLS team now known as Sporting KC) fans about a watch party for the game and we ended up getting 45+ people. I was shocked to get this many people for our first watch party and recruited the initial 25 members from this group and got our application for a chapter in and were recognized the next month in February of 2009.”
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Kansas City is the 2nd AO chapter recognized after the Lincoln chapter although Chris hints that KC probably has arguments to be the initial chapter. The chapter has grown to over 1,000 members. And it has become a focus for TV with FOX recently showing live shots from the chapter’s watch parties during the Women’s World Cup. The watch parties are a priority for the chapter with a goal of hosting one for every men’s and women’s match.
The tifo for the game is only one of the final pieces of the puzzle for the Gold Cup game. AO KC hosted the night before party at the chapter’s bar, Johnny’s, with U.S. MNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann making a surprise appearance to say ‘thank you’ to the supporters and all their efforts to create a pro-USA atmosphere for national team games.
“The night before party is probably my favorite thing about being involved with AO,” Chris said. “You get to see people you don’t get to normally see from out of town. It’s cool to see the people you have not seen in a while and you all share the passion for the national teams. It’s great. It’s one big family.”
Klinsmann is not the first well-known person connected with the game to join AO KC in celebrating the national team. They have had Alexi Lalas, Taylor Twellman, Kyle Martino, and Ian Darke at previous events.
The chapter has a big tailgate planned and then the march to the stadium in expectation of the opening whistle and another match for the U.S. national team.
“It is great for leadership and members to know how far we have come in decade. I think the support has been in line with how the national teams have grown in terms of progressing and gaining interest of soccer in this country.”