U.S. Soccer Fan Stories 2021

While we aren't fully through the global pandemic, we have seen significant progress in the new normal. This year highlighted that soccer comes in many forms, from a grass pitch to a hard or sand court.


  • The Women's National Team were SheBelieves Cup Champions, won a Bronze Medal at the Olympics, and bid farewell to one of the greatest soccer players of all-time, Carli Lloyd.
  • The Men's National Team were Concacaf Nations League Champions, Gold Cup Champions and completed the first half of World Cup Qualifying in front of three sold-out home crowds, united and committed to move Only Forward.
  • The Extended National Teams saw an historic return to play with the Futsal and Men's Beach Soccer teams both qualifying for their respective World Cups. We also saw the return of our Women's Beach Soccer Team as well as recruitment for our first ever Women's Para 7-a-Side National Team. 


U.S. Soccer invited a small group of fans to share some of their favorite U.S. Soccer memories, as well as how soccer has allowed them to experience other cultures. Check out their stories here.

ADAPTandTHRIVE Working Group

The Disability Soccer Committee (DSC) has been working within U.S. Soccer for over a decade. In order to help the wonderful volunteers of the DSC, Ashley Hammond, Director of CP Soccer, requested that Jim Moorehouse and Stuart Sharp of the ENT and Cindy Parlow-Cone, President of U.S. Soccer, help put the ADAPTandTHRIVE Working group together.  The group is composed of young athletes with disabilities and advocates from within U.S. Soccer.

The mission of the group is to set a slate of positive initiatives annually in order to advance Disability Soccer in the U.S. They have taken on some of the leg work for the DSC, helping to “move the needle.”

Supported by U.S. Soccer, the ADAPTandTHRIVE Working Group was formed. Meeting monthly and sometimes weekly, the group is led by two brilliant young women: Kirsten Windbiel (Clemson University) and Joslynn Bigelow (Director of EastSide Timbers' TOPS Soccer, Oregon). Stuart Sharp is the tireless, accessible first contact within U.S. Soccer who provides support and guidance for Ashley Hammond (Chairperson of the DSC) and the group at all times.

This group was asked to undertake a set of initiatives to advance the cause of Disability Soccer in 2021. With wonderful support and input from the DSC, the ADAPTandTHRIVE Working Group is set to deliver a multitude of new initiatives and an exciting 2022 slate of ideas at the third annual U.S. Soccer Disability Awareness Month.

Thank you to the members for the of the ADAPTandTHRIVE Working Group:

Kirsten Windbiel - Clemson, SC

I co-lead the Disability Soccer's Committee's ADAPTandTHRIVE Working group. I have also helped Stuart Sharp and Ashley Hammond with various U.S. Disability Soccer efforts, such as helping put on last year's Disability Awareness month.

One of my favorite memories was the Pan Disability Celebration we put on last year. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to utilize Zoom in order to bring individuals with disabilities, disability coaches and advocates from the soccer community together virtually. We had over 300 people from the United States and several other countries attend. My favorite part of the event was flipping through everyone's screens, and seeing youth and adults playing soccer in their living rooms, scoring goals against their couches, and proud parents in the back watching and encouraging their children with disabilities to play.


In 2018, I was in Athens, Greece helping a church do community outreach. We would often go to town-squares to play soccer and other games with the youth refugees. One specific night, I remember playing soccer with a group of young children for about three hours. We just passed the ball around in a circle for the whole time. We didn't know each other at all, didn't speak the same language, and all had very different life backgrounds. However, the amount of joy and laughter we shared together through soccer was something I'll never forget.


When I returned to the United States, I wanted to use soccer as a tool to bring about real-life change for people of various backgrounds. Since, I have worked for various soccer programs that seek to use soccer as a way to positively change how we view ourselves and the world. I worked with a Paralympic Soccer Program out of Clemson, SC where we taught veterans with disabilities the sport of soccer and various accommodations for their disabilities (i.e., Blind Soccer, 7-a-side Paralympic Soccer). I also have coached at CP Soccer's Youth Summer Camp, and I now will coach at a local, underserved/low-income high school this Spring. I am so thankful for the beautiful gift of soccer, and how it has the power to transform people, no matter where we come from, what we believe, and what we've been through.

Joslynn Bigelow - Gresham, OR

First U.S. Soccer Match

10/26/2021 – USWNT vs. Korea Republic - Carli Lloyd's Farewell Match


Since I started playing soccer at the age of four, my time on club, varsity, and college teams were no match for my time spent with The Outreach Program Soccer (TOPS). I began volunteering with TOPS 14 years ago, and am now the head coach and director of our local TOPS. I won my third OYSA TOPSoccer Coach of the Year title this year and ran one of two virtual TOPS in the nation. I co-lead the ADAPTandTHRIVE Working Group under the DSC and support the DSOs in creating opportunities within adaptive sport.

My favorite U.S. Soccer memory of all time was having two opportunities to see David Beckham, my favorite player of all time, play for LA Galaxy. My favorite U.S. Soccer memory of 2021 was when I travelled from Oregon to Upstate New York to support some of the greatest athletes within U.S. Soccer CP Soccer program at the Golden Goal facility for a week-long camp. My favorite memory within this experience was playing alongside and coaching future National Paralympic team players.


As a female within a male-dominated sport and strong advocate for players experiencing disability, my differently-abled peers and I grew up feeling undervalued on the field. To see U.S. Soccer take a stand for quality coaching and access to sport for players of all gender identities and abilities through social media, play opportunities, and coaching education is exciting!

Matthew Downing - Raeford, NC


05/03/2021- Futsal MNT vs El Salvador in Guatemala City, Guatemala


I am part of the U.S. Soccer ADAPTandTHRIVE working group and I help grow disability soccer throughout the U.S. I have also worked at U.S. Soccer as intern in the referee department and have served as the Team Administrator for the Men’s Futsal National Team.


My favorite U.S. Soccer memory is when the Women’s National Team won the FIFA World Cup in 2019. I watched all of the WNT games leading up to and during the World Cup.


As a person of color and a person with a disability, U.S. Soccer has made me feel welcome and has given me the opportunity to travel the world and meet new people. I had the privilege to travel with the Men’s Futsal National Team to the 2021 FIFA Futsal World Cup in Lithuania this past September and it is my all-time favorite sports experience.

Leah Glaser - Montclair, NJ


7/16/19 – USPNT vs. Argentina World Cup


Shea Hammond, a USPNT player, was someone who pushed me to start to play soccer at the beginning of the pandemic through CP Soccer. Since meeting Shea and talking to some of his teammates, I have gained enough confidence to play soccer and get involved with CP Soccer, and I am now a U.S. Women’s Para 7-a-side National Team trialist.

My favorite U.S. Soccer memory is the impact that a program like CP Soccer has on youth. Shea has put in countless hours and thought into ways to engage youth with disabilities. Being able to watch kids come out of their comfort zones because of him has been an amazing thing to see. The impact that the USPNT also has on the youth players is also so powerful, as they push them to see the possibilities.


Last year, I created a mentorship program for girls with CP, TBI or Stroke. I have pushed them to come out of their comfort zones, continue to play soccer, and make friends just like them. Creating this program was beneficial for my community because growing up with CP, there were not many role models and I have tried to change that for the youth today.


Working Group National Team Players

Sydney Andrews

-        U.S. Women’s Deaf National Team

Nathan Mayer

-        U.S. Men's Power Soccer National Team

Shea Hammond

-        U.S. Para 7-a-side Men's National Team

Eddie Perry

-        U.S. Men's Deaf National Team

savannah ritenour - locust grove, va

First U.S. Soccer Match

Beach National Team in Virginia Beach, VA


I currently play soccer for Culpeper Soccer Club. I am the goalkeeper for my U12 girls’ soccer team.


I ran into the Women’s Beach National Soccer team in Virginia Beach. I got to meet Christi Yount, who signed her goalkeeper gloves for me, and I also met Lauren and Megan! The three of them actually came to my sand soccer game and rooted me on! It was the best weekend ever! Now Christi and I are pen pals, and she gives me tips on how to be not only a great goalkeeper but a great soccer player.

As a female, it’s great seeing these women play! It makes me want to work harder has a female athlete.

vincent chaverst - tustin, ca

First U.S. Soccer Match

We’ve been to so many that I really don’t remember our first game. I’ve been taking my daughters for almost 20 years now.


My Daughters, ages 27, 14 and 11, all play or played soccer. It was their love for the game that got me interested, so much that we attended the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.


The USWNT vs France in the Women’s World Cup quarterfinal may be the most exciting sporting event I’ve ever been to – and I’ve been to the World Series and NBA finals, among other events.


I am of mixed race, Black and White. “Fútbol is life.” We all need to find and keep a common ground of respect towards each other, no matter what our differences may be.

Organized Supporters Groups

Organized Supporters Groups dedicate their time to organize passionate and enthusiastic support for our 24 national teams wherever and whenever they take the field. This week we thank all of you internationally, nationally, and locally for your avid support. We look forward to seeing and hearing you in the stands in full force soon! 

Brock Kwiatkowsky - Bath, ME

First U.S. Soccer Match

6/9/1996 - USMNT vs Ireland in Foxboro, MA

It's a bit of a mystery, as we didn't have soccer in Maine when I was growing up, but I got hooked somewhere around the USA qualifying for Italia 1990. After that came 1994 and it took off from there, and we've never looked back.

Hands down my best memory has to be the 2010 World Cup when the USA beat Algeria 1-0. To conjure up the winning goal in stoppage time was simply amazing. Remember, if it had been a tie, we would have gone home. The security at Loftus Versfeld Stadium let us celebrate well into the night!

Our motto has been: Follow soccer, see the world! And following the U.S. National Teams has taken us to five different continents, with the hope that we make it to continent number six when Australia and New Zealand host the 2023 Women’s World Cup. Simply being American, especially in the early days, was unusual and made us ambassadors. Soccer has given us tremendous experiences and memories, especially at the World Cups with two-week-plus visits.


Sean Kennedy - Etoile, TX

First U.S. Soccer Match

4/20/97 - USMNT vs Mexico in Foxboro, MA


I played soccer for 40+ years and have watched for 50+ years. I love the national teams, love traveling to watch them, love traveling to see the individual players at their club teams. Soccer unites the world (and football is life!).


Sixty-three matches later, it’s hard to pick just one, but some favorites include: the 0-0 WCQ draw at Azteca in '97 when we were two of maybe a dozen USA fans in that cavernous stadium and got to hear El Tri booed off the pitch as we witnessed our first-ever non-loss. The '99 WWC Final at the Rose Bowl stands out too, after beating China in PK's and "that" seminal Chastain championship moment. The last-gasp winner in Pretoria vs Algeria, and being in the corner where all the players piled on. And every Dos a Cero I've been blessed to watch, including the most recent one in Cincinnati.


My group of soccer-traveling friends have a saying: Watch Soccer, See the World. Over the now 25 years, we've been to five continents doing exactly that. Cultures from Korea to the Amazon, to Denmark, to South Africa, and so many stops in between. We've made a pile of friends of all nations, learned so much about others, and have taken pride in being unofficial American soccer ambassadors along the way.

Michael Dovellos - Dyer, IN

First U.S. Soccer Match

10/9/10 - USMNT v. Poland, Chicago, (however I've been watching the USMNT since birth)


I am a lifelong U.S. Soccer fanatic. I've watched the team play for as long as I can remember, and have been traveling and attending games for the last 11 years. My grandfather and mother cultivated a love for the national team in me from birth.

My grandfather actually played soccer in Greece and came to the United States as a young man. He instilled a great pride and love for soccer, the United States, and the U.S. National Team in me from a very young age.

My favorite U.S. Soccer memory is Landon Donovan's 2010 World Cup goal against Algeria. That goal inspired me massively and continues to do so every day! Eleven years later, his celebration is my desktop background, and Ian Darke's call of the goal remains my text message alert tone. My favorite memory that I have seen in person is a tie between being at the Azteca to witness Michael Bradley's GOLAZO v Mexico in 2017, the Nations League Final in Denver, and the most recent Dos a Cero vs. Mexico in Cincinnati.


It's amazing to see the melting pot of cultures and walks of life of fans that support this team. Being a passionate supporter of the U.S. National Team has introduced me to many amazing people from across this great country, and around the globe! Traveling the world to support the U.S. Men's National Team has made for some of my favorite and fondest memories

Kunal Yajnik - Chicago, IL

First U.S. Soccer Match

06/07/2016 - USMNT vs Costa Rica in Chicago, IL


I got into soccer after studying abroad in Milan in college. After experiencing the beauty and chaos that is European fandom as well as the passion behind it, it was impossible not to fall in love with the sport. The 2014 World Cup was my first introduction to American Outlaws, and I was thrilled to find a group here with as much passion as what I experienced in Europe. I've gone on to be a regular at USMNT and USWNT games, AO Events, and I am now the VP of AO Chicago.

It’s hard to pick just one favorite memory. Jermaine Jones’ banger against Portugal, World Cup watch parties at Grant Park in Chicago, multiple Dos a Cero's in Columbus (where I grew up), all stand out. I guess if I had to pick one, though, it would have to be drinking Malort with Landon Donovan at an AO watch party in Chicago! 


I fell in love with soccer during my time living in Europe, mainly due to the passion of European fans and how ingrained the sport is in the culture. Since that experience, I've been lucky enough to travel the world, and I've found that soccer is a universal language. Whether I'm in Sao Paolo, Tokyo, New Delhi or Vilnius, the easiest way for me to connect with locals anywhere I go has been through soccer, and it's resulted in meeting some of the best friends and people I know around the world!

Kimmy Stevenson - Annapolis, MD

First U.S. Soccer Match

8/29/2019 - USWNT vs. Portugal in Philadelphia, PA


I've played soccer since I was five years old, but I never took it seriously until 2019 when I started watching the USWNT play during their Send-Off Series before the World Cup. Seeing these women take the world stage and playing the game I love made me believe in my abilities to play in college someday and hopefully beyond. My family and I joined the Insider Program soon after that summer, because investing in this team and this organization that has done so much for me and so many others is a joy and a wonderful privilege.


One of my favorite U.S. Soccer memories was when my parents and I went to the USWNT game in Frisco to see them play the SheBelieves Cup game right before the COVID-19 lockdown, and I had the chance to give Tobin Heath a portrait I made of her. We also went to Hartford on our way up to our annual trip to Bar Harbor. It started to rain, and Tobin came into the game around the 73rd minute and scored in 56 seconds on her first touch back from surgery. Tobin is my favorite athlete so seeing that in person was truly special.

Avery Hamilton - Abilene, TX

First U.S. Soccer Match

12/10/2015 - USWNT vs. Trinidad & Tobago


I have played soccer since I was two years old. When I was 10, I got to go to my first USWNT game. I have supported U.S. soccer since 2016, when I had the privilege of attending my first Fantasy Camp.

My favorite U.S. soccer memory was all the experiences I had at Fantasy Camps. From meeting the team to training with the best players and making great soccer relationships. I will never forget the impact U.S. Soccer has had on me.


As a female soccer player, I have admired the USWNT my entire life. From Lori Lindsey to Julie Ertz, I have had examples of strength and perseverance as a woman through soccer. Watching women change the game throughout the world has continued to fuel my desire to be a leader in soccer as a female player on and off the field.

Libby Grygar - Golden Valley, MN

First U.S. Soccer Match

07/14/2006 - USWNT vs. Sweden in Blaine, MN


I played soccer growing up and it was something my family rallied around: watching, playing, traveling to play and traveling to watch. Soccer has always been and still is something that brings my family so much joy to enjoy together. Because of that, I’ve joined the Circles Insiders to further soccer and make it more accessible within the United States.


I don’t have a favorite game in particular, but in general, I’ve loved sharing this sport with family and friends across the country, all united by a love for the team and for celebrating the wonderful game. The SheBelieves Cup continues to be one of my favorite tournaments to support some of the best teams in the world, all while empowering young women and girls. It's also pretty incredible to realize it's been over 15 years from my first to the most recent game! (All in MN).


Soccer has allowed me to travel and explore different cultures, all while observing how the game is played and celebrated in other countries. One of my favorite ways to explore other cultures through soccer is through a game of pickup and talking to other fans. To me, finding a local pub or bar to watch and enjoy the beautiful game is universal.

Zachary Gustafson - Danville, CA

First U.S. Soccer Match

It’s too long ago to remember - my first match in attendance was probably a friendly at Soldier Field in the early 2000s.


I played as a youth but didn't get hooked as a fan until the 2002 World Cup, when I was newly living on my own in Chicago and bars were showing matches at all hours of the night (and morning!) I now have two kids who play competitive soccer and have joined the National Women's Network to help grow the sport with women players and coaches.


My family went to the 2015 Women’s World Cup final in Vancouver, and in a stroke of luck we ended up staying at the team hotel. On the morning of the match, our elevator down to the lobby opened to the entire USWNT roster and they all crammed into it, with Carli Lloyd front and center. She shrugged, we laughed, and then I said, “Go get ‘em!” and she grinned at us as the doors closed. Then, of course, she went out and scored a hat trick in 16 minutes to win us our third star.

Dave Stamm -Washington, DC

First U.S. Soccer Match

06/18/1994 - USMNT vs. Switzerland – 1994 World Cup


I was a 1990s kid, and I remember watching the 1994 World Cup on TV as an elementary school kid and falling in love with watching the USMNT. I played a lot of soccer growing up and I was a referee from the time I was 12 through college. In the lead up to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, I traveled from the DC area to Columbus in 2009 for a Dos a Cero scoreline and became hooked on the growth of the game in the US for life.


Right before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, my wife Lilia and I welcomed our daughter Natalie into the family. As things opened back up, watching the Nations League and Gold Cup victories on TV with Natalie (and then as grownups after she went to sleep) were great memories. Traveling for another dos a cero with Lilia and catching the home qualifiers so far in person has been amazing. Teaching Natalie how to say U-S-A was a proud moment for us! This dos a cero was special: Only Forward.


As a kid born in the late 80s that grew up in the 90s and 00s, I was part of a generation of American kids where soccer became a big deal for my generation. It's been so cool to see the game grow so much since I was a kid: the 1994 World Cup, MLS getting established and become a great league, Beckham to MLS, awesome American talent flourishing in top European leagues...we are on the cusp of some very special things to come this next generation.

Rick Roettker - Cincinnati, OH

First U.S. Soccer Match

6/21/1998 - USMNT vs. Iran (1998 World Cup – France)


I grew up playing soccer in Cincinnati, OH.  My first recollection of becoming an avid U.S. Soccer fan was the 1994 World Cup in the USA.  Watching players like Lalas, Stewart, and Renya inspired me to follow my childhood dream of playing professional soccer.  I later went on to play soccer at the University of Dayton where we won two Atlantic 10 championships.  After college, I was blessed to be able to play professionally for 4 years in the USL A-League (rebranded USL Championship) for the Cincinnati Riverhawks while working full time at Proctor & Gamble.  After retiring, my love of soccer took me down the path of acquiring my USSF “A” and “Youth” Coaching Licenses to help bring along the next generation of soccer players in the U.S.


Up until recently, my favorite memory was the USA vs Iran 1998 World Cup game in France where we dressed up and ended up in the magazine Soccer America.  However, now my favorite memory is the USA vs Mexico “Dos a Cero” game this year in my hometown Cincinnati.  It’s amazing to see the growth of soccer in the U.S. and Cincinnati over the years:  FC Cincinnati (2019 average attendance of 27,336), TQL Stadium (one of the best in the world), and U.S. Soccer choosing Cincinnati for the biggest game in North America.  The entire day was like a soccer family reunion running into old coaches and former teammates.  Seeing Sam’s Army march down the streets downtown and fans travel from all 50 states made Cincinnati “the center of the soccer universe” for one unforgettable night.


I feel that soccer is the most universal language in the world. It is able to transcend ideologies, cultures, and language. I have had teammates, roommates, and best friends from almost every ethnicity and continent.  We were able to bond and break barriers thanks to a game we loved and respected. I have personally seen a soccer ball open doors, have a generational impact in changing lives, and unite people in the fight for equality not only in the USA but also in service trips to Haiti & South Africa.  My goal is to pass along the same life lessons soccer and my coaches instilled in me and my teammates of a courage in commitment, integrity in treating everyone with respect, and teamwork in giving back to the community.



Photo mosaic by: ussoccer @ Mosaically