American Outlaws
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American Outlaws look to energize Portland crowd for USMNT match at JELD-WEN Field: An Open Letter

WATCH: USMNT at Civic Stadium in 1997

Editor’s Note: In 1997, the U.S. Men's National team played a World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica at a packed then-Civic Stadium that play-by-play man Bob Ley said, "This might be the best atmosphere ever for a U.S. soccer match."

That strong soccer supporter culture tradition continues as the U.S. Men’s National Team returns to Portland tomorrow to take on Belize in their opening game of the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup (8pm PT, FOX Soccer, TICKETS. Cheering them on in the North End will be the American Outlaws—a nationwide fan group built upon supporting for the U.S. National Team. While it’ll have some familiar Timbers Army faces in their midst, the colors of red, white, and blue will dominate.

Below is an open letter to fans from Phil Mitchell, a local chapter member of AO and proud member of the Timbers Army 107 Independent Supporters Trust, about the fan culture for tomorrow's match. Get your tickets and join the AOPDX in cheering for the USMNT.

Supporter culture is not new to Portland. We are Soccer City, USA. Since the formation of the Timbers Army in 2001, Portland has been the home to one of the strongest supporters groups in the country. The TA is well known for their match day presence with chants, TIFO, and raucous cheer, but much charitable work is done too.

The Gold Cup comes to town on July 9th. There will be a similar tone and vibe for the match in the North End. However, the Timbers Army will not be present in the same way that you may have come to know. Yes, members of the group will be there and some may be standing in their familiar spot in the terraces. But they will be joined by followers of the United States National Team and members of their supporters group called the American Outlaws.

It is important to note that the American Outlaws are similar to the Timbers Army. Their chants were created and sung to support the team. Their tifo is designed to be presented before kickoff with images of hope and praise. Individuals may be dressed in the standard celebratory garb of red, white, and blue, with stars and stripes. There is, however, one distinction that needs to be addressed between rooting for club and country.

The American Outlaws are a nationwide supporters group that has eighty-five chapters throughout the country. American Outlaws Portland, or AOPDX, is the 66th chapter and is lead by recently elected President, Robert W. Cross. Seattle has a chapter as well and so do many other soccer-loving cities such as Denver, Washington, D.C., Omaha, and Los Angeles. The Portland chapter, which has now grown to 150 members, can be found congregating at the Thirsty Lion Pub whenever the NATS have a game. These watch parties occur no matter whether it’s an international friendly or one of the many official competitions the team is participating in including the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Formed in 2007, the American Outlaws started as a local supporters group in Lincoln, Nebraska.

They put together viewing parties at local bars and attended as many matches as possible. This sparked excitement amongst some of the leaders of the group who felt they could do more. In attending the matches, a lack of consistency was observed with regard to the level of supporter organization and communication. Today, the American Outlaws have grown to an organization that boasts more than 6,500 paid members and are easily recognized at matches, even the World Cup.

It may be difficult to estimate the effect a supporters group may have on the pitch. Soccer coaches and players alike recognize the importance of SGs like the Timbers Army and the American Outlaws. Former USMNT star Frankie Hejduk has been quoted as saying as follows: "Please be as loud as you can. You don't know how much of a difference it makes to the players."

Come out to JELD-WEN Field on Tuesday, July 9th and get ready. Be prepared. Get loud. Travel to the North End and support the Yanks. It matters more than you think. It is fun and you never know what might happen. You could find that you share the passion that many AOPDX members have towards U.S. Soccer and our beautiful game.

For more information on American Outlaws Portland you may visit them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter with the handle @AOPDX. You can also join American Outlaws Portland here. The American Outlaws Family - Gold Cup – Celebrate FootyParty will be held at Thirsty Lion Pub on Monday, July 8 beginning at 7 PM. Come join us.

--Phil Mitchell
Proud member of American Outlaws Portland and 107ist