The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News 2

July 4, 2014

American Outlaws: Locals band together to support U.S. soccer team

— If you’ve watched the World Cup, you know the United States is among the best supported teams among all the countries involved in the tournament. In fact, more tickets were sold in the United States than any country outside of host Brazil.

A big reason for the influx of Americans in South America is the American Outlaws, a supporters group for United States National team. Formed in 2007 as a way to better organize the most loyal fans at U.S. National Team soccer matches, the supporters club now has more than 140 chapters across the United States.

One of the newest official chapters is in North Alabama where U.S. supporters have banded together to form American Outlaws Huntsville.

“Right now, we have about 55 to 60 paid members,” said Andrew Walker, club president. “We’re definitely getting a bump because of the World Cup. We had a big event for the sendoff game. It kind of started with that and it’s been crazy since then.”

Huntsville’s American Outlaws chapter is one of only four official chapters in Alabama and the only one in North Alabama. In order to become an official chapter, you have to have at least 25 paid members and have a base where they host viewing parties on a regular basis.

“We’ve been meeting at Straight to Ale,” said Walker. “I think we’ve probably drawn a lot of those Athens guys over here. We had over 300 people for the first two games.”

The Huntsville chapter formed three years ago, shortly after the 2010 World Cup and has seen a steady increase in members since. As anticipation for the 2014 World Cup drew near, so did interest in the club.

Attendance at the viewing party peaked during the United States’ second game of the group phase against Portugal on Sunday, June 22. Nationwide, 21.6 million people tuned in to watch the game, more than any other sporting event in the United States outside the Super Bowl.

While the northeast has the largest number of viewers, North Alabama was among the top rated areas in the South, according to Nielsen ratings.  Birmingham drew an 8.5 rating, the same as Seattle and only second to Atlanta in the Southeast.

As interest in soccer grows, so does the American Outlaws Huntsville chapter. The club’s Facebook page now has more than 350 “likes” and should continue to get a boost from the 2014 World Cup.

“I wish we could claim that many (official) members,” said Walker. “We’re just happy to see this many people coming out to watch. It’s about growing soccer and growing membership.”

For more information or to join the American Outlaws Huntsville chapter, visit www.americanoutlaws.com.

“You go to the website and sign up and that gets you a shirt and an American flag bandana and that’s all it takes,” said Walker.

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