The same old story lines won’t work for this year’s World Cup, not if you’re up on Team USA soccer. For years, Americans have been force-fed the notion that soon – soon! – the Americans would be competitive with the best teams in the world.
One day, we’ve been promised, they may even win the whole thing. But those cliched and stale themes won’t work, not after Team USA finished runner-up at the 2009 Confederations Cup (and American-born players are starting to kick some ass overseas).
By beating Spain in the semi-finals, and leading perennial powerhouse Brazil 2-0 at the half in the final game (albeit before eventually losing 3-2), they earned significant respect internationally.
While soccer culture may be stronger around the world, there’s no reason why Team USA won’t be able to play with any nation come this summer. And while the fans are just getting pumped up, Team USA supporters have been for years.
Those supporters are the focus of a new documentary project called One Goal, shot guerrilla-style by filmmakers Jon Korn and Ashwin Chaudhary to chronicle the efforts to produce a more substantial soccer culture for Team USA.
They’ve traveled to qualifying matches with handheld cameras, ducked into stadiums around the world and attended rallies to document supporters who sing and chant during the entire match, no matter the score. And they’ve braved some of the craziest crowds they’ve ever seen.
“The Mexico game was on another level,” says Korn of a qualifier played last year at Estadio Azteca last August, a 100,000-seat stadium in Mexico City. “That was definitely the most hostile situation.” The 200 Team USA supporters who got into the stadium were herded up to the top of the nosebleed seats, and after going down 2-1 were pelted with objects until they had to be escorted out of the building.
But while many of the crowds are intense and passionate, they’re all not necessarily hostile. Only about 50 U.S. fans got into San Pedro Sula, Honduras at the Estadio Olimpico to watch the U.S. team clinch a birth in the World Cup, and they were treated to a scene that might put an NFL tailgate to shame. “On game day, everyone is there at the stadium eight, nine hours before the game,” says Korn. “It’s a mile of blue in every direction. The whole city basically converged on a stadium.”
“An armed guard dropped us 50 Americans off, and it took about an hour and half to get in the stadium.” In Honduras, at the time, the country was torn about by a political coup, and there was indecision about whether they would even play the game. But that turned into a rallying point for the host country.
“Once your inside, its like a party for four hours,” says Korn. There were only a couple police officers, but no one ever felt threatened.” And after a 2-0 Team USA win that clinched the Americans’ birth in the World Cup, the Hondurans saluted Team USA. “They still gave us a standing ovation,” says Korn.
Korn and Chaudhary are traveling to gather more clips of fans and supporters. Check out the video of their time in Honduras below and sign up to their Facebook Fan Page for updates.