Nashville, Tennessee is known around the world as the Music City.  Country music and the stars that make it shine are royalty in the southern town.  But on July 3rd and over the 4th of July weekend soccer will take center stage as the city hosts the U.S. men’s national team as they face Guatemala in their final tune-up before defending their CONCACAF Gold Cup title.

LP Field/Nissan Stadium in Nashville has become the go-to venue for U.S. Soccer in the southeast and is poised to set another Tennessee record for attendance on Friday.  With over 33,000 tickets sold, the match has surpassed the previous record of 29,095 which was set the last time the senior national team was in town on March, 29, 2011 with a 0-1 loss to Paraguay.

The result was not the ideal for the Stars and Stripes but it proved a great opening event for the American Outlaws Nashville chapter.

AO Nash

AO Nashville members after the Netherlands win

The AO Nashville chapter was formally recognized a few weeks before the match.  Jonathan Slape and a group of friends were the motivating force behind the chapter.  The small group met to watch all the U.S. MNT matches during the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and the group grew in numbers with each game.   Unintentionally the push to start a chapter had begun and was growing.

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“We official became a chapter in March 2011,” Slape told World Soccer Shop.  “My best friend and I watched games during the 2010 World Cup at a local bar with other soccer fans not with any organized chants or coordination between the fans watching and bar.  It was after the World Cup that we found out about the American Outlaws and began to work on getting the chapter started.  The timing was great to become an official chapter because it was right before Nashville hosted the U.S. MNT vs Paraguay friendly that year.”

The international friendly vs Paraguay along with hosting the U.S. team during Olympic qualifying and events surrounding the 2014 World Cup have provided the major boost in recruiting and the chapter has grown to over 275 members.

The outside parking at Dan McGuinness Irish Pub during a 2014 World Cup watch party. World Cup

The outside parking at Dan McGuinness Irish Pub during a 2014 World Cup watch party. World Cup

“We have over 275 members.  The Olympic qualifying in 2012 helped recruit new members and then we really saw a huge increase with the World Cup last year.  During the World Cup last year the bar that hosts our watch parties (Dan McGuinness Irish Pub) roped off the parking lot and rented 20’ x 20’ TV for fans to watch.  For the Portugal game we had between 2,000 and 2,500 fans at the watch party.”

Celebrating Clint Dempsey's goal against Portugal

Celebrating Clint Dempsey’s goal against Portugal

Good partners are essential in any endeavor and the owner of Dan McGuinness has been a part of the chapter’s growth.

“Our bar owner is wonderful.  He is a former soccer player and really takes care of us by extending drink specials, providing enough TVs for watch parties, and just the small things that are a big help.  He has been a big part of our growth helping.”

This week the focus has turned to hosting American Outlaw members from around the country.  AO has 3 sections behind 1 of the goals with the 1,000+ tickets in the section selling out quickly.  The events of the weekend start on Thursday night with the night before party hosted at the Dan McGuinness Irish Pub.

AO Nashville members get together for the January friendlies

AO Nashville members get together for the January friendlies

In true soccer style the chapter has made a commemorative scarf for the match that they will be selling over the weekend.

On Friday, AO Nashville is hosting the pre-game tailgate.  This year’s tailgate is taking place in a tailgate lot that is across the street from the stadium.  And in true the honky-tonk form of Nashville, the tailgate will feature a mechanical bull.  Not that’s what I call an (American) Outlaw!  Shortly before game time, the march to the stadium will begin with the opening whistle next on the agenda.

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With all the success and growth of AO Nashville it is hard to believe it almost never came to be.  Slape and other founding members discussed calling the chapter AO Music City but thought that sticking with the city name worked best.  The music is represented in their official AO badge.

A soccer ball with AO bandana is represented as the center of a drum head with 2 drum sticks sticking out the top of the drum and the head stock of 2 guitars sticking out the bottom of the drum.  ‘AO NSH’ with the AO running vertically and the NSH underneath.  Adjacent to this text running vertically is ‘Nashville, TN.’

See you in Nashville. Go USA!

Join the movement.  You can become a member of the American Outlaws at most local events or by signing up on the membership page of the AO website.