Paul writes about meeting American Outlaws

Paul Pabst wrote about his experience meeting the American Outlaws at the USA-Argentina match on Saturday in the Meadowlands for SI.com. You can also check out Paulie’s photo gallery of the match. Here’s the beginning:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — On Saturday I drove to the Meadowlands in New Jersey to see something in person that I had never seen before. It wasn’t just Argentine superstar Lionel Messi, whose rabid supporters helped fill Giants Stadium to its brim; it was a smaller group of fans that owned area J-13 of the parking lot.

I finally got to meet The American Outlaws — the fan group that supports the U.S. national team. I’d had heard of The American Outlaws, seen their website and their work at various matches over the past few years, but this was the first time up close and personal. According to the Outlaws’ founders, they have approximately 4,000 members and 46 chapters around the country.

I did have some naive and preconceived thoughts about the Outlaws previously. When first perusing their website a few years ago, I saw the intimidating logos and bandana-mask wearing supporters pictured all over. My quick reaction was that this could be a poseur-ish version of a British club firm (supporters’ clubs with a Hooligan slant) on a national level here in the USA. I thought that maybe a few guys with too much beer and free time had watched “Green Street Hooligans,” and in a haze of Natty Light and Dominos Pizza, built a website. That was my initial notion when I saw the site years ago. I was obviously wrong.

If you watch any national team match in person or on television, you cannot help but notice the Outlaws’ boisterous fan section decked out in jerseys, bandannas, flags and numerous other outlandish outfits. The Outlaws stand from whistle to whistle, chant songs and try like heck to help boost the U.S. to a win, or at least put out a good showing.

Arriving at 3 p.m. for a 7 p.m. match, the Outlaws’ tailgate party was brewing nicely, but not yet to a full roar. The upper management of the Outlaws’ was very welcoming, but also feverishly trying to get the keg tapped, hot dogs cooking and to direct buses full of supporters that were coming in from every direction. Justin Brunken, Korey Donahoo, Brian Hexsel, Zach Stivrins and Shane Jocum comprise Outlaw upper management and are all based in Nebraska, where this whole thing started. I tried to get exact titles and background, but someone spilled a Pironi on my notebook.

“We are young, the new generation of soccer fans,” Brunken told me as he waved in the D.C. chapter bus. “People see the logo and name and think ‘crazy,’ but we are just more passionate than the average fan.”

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