Being a U.S. soccer fan hasn’t been a lot of fun lately.
The euphoria of the women’s national team winning the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015 was shattered when the men’s national team failed to qualify for last year’s World Cup. A continuing frustration has lingered, but U.S. soccer’s national supporter group remained loyal and never stopped chanting, “We love ya! We love ya! We love ya!”
We’re talking, of course, of the American Outlaws. There are more than 30,000 members and 200 chapters around the world. That includes a chapter here in the Magic City. The Birmingham chapter of the American Outlaws was established in 2013 and has provided the ultimate viewing experience for U.S. soccer matches since.
With the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 and U.S. men competing in the Gold Cup this month, here are 6 things you should know about AO Birmingham.
Don’t take this as a bad thing. The American Outlaws should be loud and obnoxious. Birmingham’s chapter is no different.
The chapter was founded in 2013 and had a big coming out during the 2014 World Cup when the men’s national team advanced to the knockout stage.
Since 2014, viewing parties haven’t slowed down. Though attendance isn’t always phenomenal, events like the World Cup, Women’s World Cup and Gold Cup still pack the house. You can watch a clip from the 2015 Women’s World Cup final below to get a good idea of what an AO crowd is like for a big match.
Let’s not beat around the bush: women’s sports rarely get the same coverage and attention as men’s sports. But that’s not the case with Birmingham’s Outlaws.
“They’re our best team right now. There’s really not disputing that,” Outlaw member Nic Gulas said of USWNT. “They dominate worldwide, they’ve been No. 1 for years, they have three World Cup titles, which is the most on the women’s side of the game. Ever since the creation of the Women’s World Cup we’ve been right there. They’re just as talented as the men, they’re just as technical. Soccer is a sport where if you can play, you can play. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female.”
That’s right! And the women are fun to watch and support, especially during a period when the men’s team is down.
“The men these last few years have been pretty stinky and it’s the women that have been much more fun to hang a hat on,” said Outlaw Chuck Thiele.
Summers are big for AO Birmingham because there’s always U.S. soccer. This year is no different.
Not only is USWNT playing in the Women’s World Cup, the men’s national team is playing in the Gold Cup. Both tournament take place in June.
“We build our summers around this. Almost every summer there’s something,” Gulas said. “We have the Women’s World Cup and the Gold Cup going on at the same time. We could have up to 16 matches in the next month that we’ll watch between the men and women. That puts us at Good People every other day potentially for soccer.”
The women play their group stage match on June 11 (2 p.m.), June 16 (11 a.m.) and June 20 (2 p.m.). The men’s group round matches are June 18 (9 p.m.), June 22 (7 p.m.) and June 26 (8 p.m.).
The Outlaws want you to watch U.S. soccer with them.
Every Outlaw will tell you about the friends they’ve made within the group. Leigh Gwaltney started watching matches at Good People with AO Birmingham during the 2014 World Cup.
“Ever since then I just love it so much because I’ve made so many amazing friends through it,” she said.
Birmingham’s Outlaws are the same as most cities, but, as member Matt Phillips notes, because Birmingham is a smaller city than Atlanta or Nashville the Magic City’s group is a bit more personable.
“It’s the same thing you’re going to find everywhere else. A bunch of people dressed up in red, white and blue, chanting, going nuts on goals,” he said. “But you’re more likely knowing the names of the guys running the show than if you were in a big city.”
By “throw beer,” don’t worry, we don’t mean glass and all. But forewarning, you will likely get wet.
But, hey, for a sport that typically has little scoring, why not celebrate fully?
Watch below of the scene from when the U.S. men’s team took the lead late against Portugal in the 2014 World Cup.
(Disclaimer: Throwing beer is reserved for World Cup tournaments only.)
If you want to join the Outlaws, AO Birmingham’s home bar is Good People Brewing Co. It is located at 114 14th Street South in Birmingham, right across the street from Regions Field and adjacent to Railroad Park.
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