The New Capital of American Soccer

It’s official — after Friday, there’s a new capital of American soccer.

Deep down, you already knew this was the case. You knew it in 2016 the first time you walked into an FC Cincinnati match and saw 10,000+ people walking into a college football stadium to watch division 3 soccer, and then again later that year when 35,000+ packed in to watch the EPL equivalent of the Washington Generals. You definitely knew it in 2017, on that magical US Open Cup Run where an entire city suddenly became experts on a tournament that was mostly streamed on YouTube. Now, in 2021, it’s crystal clear: Cincinnati is the soccer capital of America.

I’m going to start with a few words for non-Cincinnatians on the off-chance this article gets more than the usual 9 RTs that most content from “The Post” gets. First off, know that none of this is personal — we’re just culturally predisposed to be really fucking good at this soccer shit. In Cincinnati, we’re born and raised into singing off-key songs out of obligation, as anyone who has been dragged to catholic mass more than once in their life can attest. We’re prone to fierce tribalism; you’ll think we’re being nice when we ask “Oh, where did you go to high school,” but we’re actually testing to see if you’re one of us (and, low-key, learn a little about how much money you have in the process). We also don’t really need or demand “results” to continue doing what we do, as evidenced by the fact that every goddamn bridge in the city is falling down despite every politician elected in my lifetime pledging to fix them. That translates out to our sports too — the Reds are shedding employees like they think the “Great Resignation” is some new TikTok trend they want to be a part of, the Bengals are run by a fucking Charles Dickens villain, and while the Cincinnati Bearcats are good, we all know deep down that they’re gonna get Charlie Brown’d by the College Football Playoff committee so that we can watch some Big 10 team get peckersmacked by the SEC again. You know what? We don’t give a fuck. We still show up every week willing to be hurt again (and drink like goddamn fish in the process). What’s more soccer than that?

All of these credentials were on full display this past weekend as the United States Traveling Soccer Circus descended upon its new home. Before the bags had finished unloading for most travelers, we’d already declared war on noted soccer wokelord Grant Wahl for his anti-Skyline Chili comments.

[An Aside: Sorry, American Soccer Fans — you’re now required to like Skyline Chili. I don’t give a single fuck how disgusting you think it is or how funny you think your takes about it are. If you’ve ever eaten at a Taco Bell or an Arbys, you’re fucking disqualified from making value judgments on a food item anyway. The Cheese Coney is now the official food item of American soccer. Get it with habanero cheese or start with Chili Cheese Fries if you’re too big of a baby to try new things. Also fuck Grant Wahl and his vegan Skeletor-looking ass forever.]

Tickets to the match were beyond sold out and selling online at “eh, how many kidneys do you *really* need anyway?” prices. We even got an obligatory photo with Fiona the Hippo (BTW — new mascot of AO, Eagle costumes are now cancelled) getting her own USMNT kit. We did your “Night Before” party as a peace offering to how the rest of the world thinks soccer should be done. We’ll workshop that concept in the future and get back to you with ways we can get that even more turn’t up in the future. Baby steps on that front. But matchday?

Matchday we fucking owned.

Like we always fucking do.

Did you see Northern Row on Friday? The only available seats in the place were in the boat hanging from the goddamn ceiling (a boat that these United States of America kicked the shit out of the Nazis while rowing). The line to get in the building stretched halfway to Oakley, and the people inside and outside in the lots were drinking beers faster than they could be poured (our moles inside reported the totals back: roughly 3,000 pints sold + an additional 600 tall boy cans in the ~4 hours of pregame festivities). Fuck Heineken and their green-bottled windex — Hustler is the new beer of American Soccer. And when it was time to go to the match, what did we do? We didn’t just slowly trickle in — no, we slammed our drinks down and marched en masse through Over the Rhine and the West End, popping more smoke than a Phish concert and getting rowdy to support the United States of America. Because that’s what we fucking do in the soccer capital of America. We don’t calmly walk in and scan our tickets, we loudly and obnoxiously take over city streets while remaining somewhat respectful of parked cars and open container laws.

You’ve seen the videos of what happens at the stadium. Darin Russell hyping the capos and drummers? Inject it into our goddamn veins. From this moment forward, he’s known as President FDR (Fucking Darin Russell, bay bay). Get the man a Delta Skymiles card and make sure that he’s at every World Cup Qualifier going forward. At every one of these USMNT/USWNT games, we see people from other chapters of the American Outlaws who come in to “provide support” for the locals. Thanks to them for all their service through the years, but the Capital of American Soccer will take it from here. When the traveling USMNT WCQ road show comes to the next American City, we expect President FDR and his Russell’s Reserve of drummers and capos (Das Harkes, the Wolf, Marshall, Dan, Brendon, et. al.) walking behind like a scene from a fucking Tarentino movie. The rest of America might be good at soccer, but we’re here to help make you better. That’s what we do in Cincinnati now.

Once inside, TQL Stadium became a fucking fortress for the United States. Drummers and capos provided the soundtrack for a snuff film about the entire nation of Mexico. From anthem to final whistle, this was the kind of home environment opposing teams fear (bonus points for us: we didn’t need to throw bottles full of piss or have motherfuckers in riot shields protecting people on corner kicks). When Christian Pulisic buried his goal past Memo Ochoa, the entire building shook. And, unlike when these matches had previously been played in Columbus, you could feel confident the shaking was coming from pure exuberance and not shitty, high school stadium construction quality. Hell, we even had “Man in the Mirror” in the queue and ready to be played at the FT whistle. Imagine the shame of having a goddamn Michael Jackson song played in your fucking face while a crowd of drunk midwesterners chants “Dos a Cero” at you. In Cincinnati, the Capital of American Soccer, we’re not just taking victories, we’re snatching fucking souls.

(Also, I forgot to mention it elsewhere, and I don’t want to forget it: memo to the dipshit social media staffer for the Columbus Crew: stay salty forever. Hope you enjoyed the ESPN telecast — keep the cable subscription so you can watch the playoffs from home too.)

Is this coming off as conceited? Sure. But again -- and I cannot stress this enough -- I do not give a fuck. If there’s one thing to knock about the city of Cincinnati, it’s that we have the absolute shittiest public transportation system known to mankind. If there’s a second thing to knock about Cincinnati, it’s that we don’t take credit for our successes enough. We’re just midwestern enough to have that “Ope, aw shucks, thanks for even noticing us…” mentality about things. When it comes to soccer, though? Fuck that. We kicked the goddamn door in to MLS and forced our way to the front of the line (did you hear how painful it was for Taylor Twellman to compliment us on Friday — the city he hates for pushing ahead of St. Louis in the MLS expansion race). We’ve been spoonfucked by the league for THREE GODDAMN YEARS, and we’re still renewing season tickets at an (allegedly) over 85% clip. And we’ll be back at it next year showing the league how’s done on the drums, on the megaphones, and in the warehouse painting tifos.

All of this is why, when the United States of America needed a home they could count on and a fanbase they knew would deliver, they picked us. Because, like Maxwell Jacob Friedman, we’re better than you, and you know it.

Capital of American Soccer, out.