Frequent contributor Jon Marthaler has written about virtually every sport in the Twin Cities, and fills in on Saturdays for the RandBall blog on StarTribune.com. He'll cover the professional soccer scene in the Twin Cities, whether at the Metrodome or at the National Sports Center.
Email Jon to talk about soccer.
Dana Wessel produces the Cane & Company morning show on 96.3 K-TWIN Monday-Friday 5:30am-10:00am. The show is hosted by Cane Peterson and Eric Perkins/Rena Sarigianopoulos of KARE 11. Dana sent the following along from Kansas City, where the USA plays its final home qualifying match for next year's World Cup. Dana?
All right, gang. This is composed from my Kansas City hotel room while I sip water and eat fruit from the continental.
The USMNT close out the home portion of World Cup Qualifying in just a few hours at Sporting Park. Having already qualified for the World Cup, this match technically "doesn't matter" for the USA. But it does. A lot. Obviously we want to win the group and keep our home win streak alive blah blah blah. But it matters for a much bigger reason.
Last night, thousands of US Soccer fans packed the Power and Light District in KC to be at Johnny's for the annual American Outlaws Night Before Party. The men and women who started the American Outlaws were on the bar to address the crowd and to unveil the 100th chapter of the group; what started as a lark in Nebraska between friends now has 100 official chapters and 50,000+ members.
US legend Alexi Lalas got on the bar, grabbed a mic and gave a speech that hit on a lot of key points that I've believed for a long time want to pass forward: US Soccer is no longer niche. We are no longer underground. This is no longer viewed as a cute hobby by outsiders. As Alexi put it, we are an army.
My parents got me my first US jersey for my birthday in fifth grade, and it sparked a lifelong love affair. I've seen it all since 1998, and get chills when I reflect on how far things have come and how incredible it is to be a fan right now.
Don't ever let fans of other sports tell you soccer doesn't matter. Don't let them try to convince you your passion is misguided. It is cool to be a fan of US Soccer. Really cool. The dark ages are over. Wear the badge proudly and wear it often.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go join 20,000 compatriots to tailgate, march to the stadium and sing our hearts out as the Yanks get three more points on their way to Brazil.