But our first loyalty is, of course, to our national team.
Even Beorn is an American Outlaw.
We've been to a handful of US games together, mostly (for me) Gold Cup matches in Chicago, surrounded by fans from Central America. I have a soft spot in my heart forever for Honduras, because their fans were my favorite at the games we've been to at Soldier Field - even when they lose, they sing, they congratulate the winning team's fans, and they are happy and awesome.
It wasn't always this way. These are two of the first photos I can find from our early-morning trips to the Highbury to watch games - 2008 or 2009, I'm not sure. But I grew up hating playing team sports (I still have a major problem with them, which is why I'm an endurance runner and was a gymnast - our children, should we ever have any, will be equally encouraged to pursue solo and team sports, because, let's be honest - team sports are the absolute worst if you aren't very good at them), but I've always been fond of baseball and American football (my dad used to take my sister and I out at halftime of Packers games and teach us how to throw a spiral - I am, no lie, still really good at it), and The Husband wasted absolutely no time when we started dating teaching me how to appreciate soccer. And I do appreciate and enjoy it, very much.
Now, I am not a morning person. I have a never-really-got-off-the-ground blog entitled "Guinness for Breakfast" which I intended to chronicle the exploits of a youngish American woman just starting to understand and appreciate international soccer, which was me when The Husband and I started dating in 2006. He had just returned from the World Cup in Germany (no, really. He went to the World Cup in Germany) and as a big fan of a few major football clubs in Europe, when we started dating he wanted to share this global phenomenon with me. Unfortunately (for me), this involved me waking up at the crack of dawn to go to The Highbury at 5:00 AM to watch Manchester United. It is a testament to how much I liked him that I actually got up early enough to make myself semi-presentable and awake at 4:45 AM regularly, for months, to watch soccer with my boyfriend and his friends (and a testament to how awesome they all are that they put up with, nay - welcomed - me), a game I didn't understand at all at first.
It is perfectly appropriate to blow your nose on a Liverpool flag. (Sorry, Darragh.)
Seriously. It took me a year and a half of my now-husband patiently explaining it to me, weekly, to finally understand the off-sides rule in soccer. It's completely, obviously, nothing like football, but it is a bit like hockey. When I figured that out, it clicked.
We had a great World Cup. Our livers and stomachs took a beating, but it was worth it. I mean, look at this awesome mess.
This is how I watched the US / Ghana game. Lame. Couldn't get off work. Luckily, my friend Liz sent me videos and pictures of singing and chanting and awesomeness.
We checked out The Nomad!
And the Upper 90!
But we spent the bulk of our time at The Highbury. In our neighborhood. Because we love it, and we've gone there forever.
And just... everything was great. We believed.
...and then I washed, wrung out, and hung up my Outlaws bandana until next time. Probably next summer. Gold Cup, yo.