U.S. Soccer Fan Stories 2020

As you know, this year was unlike any other - not only for U.S. Soccer, but the world. Everything was put on pause due to the global pandemic. With few national team events this year, we knew Fan Week 2020 would look a little different. This year, we want to celebrate fans not only because of their support of soccer, but also because they have been outstanding individuals in their communities. U.S. Soccer invited a small group of fans to share some of their favorite U.S. Soccer memories as well as how they have been supporting their community during the pandemic.

#ADAPTandTHRIVE: Supporting Disability Soccer

All month long we will have interactive content that celebrates players, coaches, fans, and organizations that help grow the game in the U.S.!

We celebrate those who are affected by disabilities and we stand with them. Help us raise awareness about disabilities today and all month long by using the hashtag #ADAPTandTHRIVE.

Here are some stories from our amazing Para 7-a-side National Team Fans.

Anna Leigh - New York, New York

First U.S. Soccer Match
7/19/19 – USPNT vs. IRAN World Cup

Anna Leigh is 6 years old and has Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy. She began attending CP Soccer training sessions when she was just 4 years old but was always too shy to play. It wasn’t until Shea Hammond began leading CP Soccer sessions on Zoom that Anna Leigh found her idol and began training every single day. She was starstruck by Shea and worked hard every day to improve her game. Shea and Anna Leigh share the same type of CP so he is someone she can relate with and look up to.


One of Anna Leigh’s favorite memories is when she was gifted a signed poster of Shea to hang in her room. She has to show everyone that poster and always declares “He has CP just like me and he’s a famous soccer player.” Another favorite memory was when Anna Leigh was able to meet Shea in person and play. She is extremely shy, but Shea took the entire session to encourage her and treat her like she was a star player. He goes above and beyond to be an incredible mentor and role model. 


Anna Leigh participated in STEPtember this September where she was able to help raise money for Cerebral Palsy Research and her CP Soccer team. She also loves to order takeout from her favorite local restaurants to help fuel up for practice.

Leah Glaser - Montclair, NJ

First U.S. Soccer Match
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. Ever 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 U.S. Soccer.

My favorite U.S. Soccer memory is the impact that a program like CP Soccer has on youth. One of the founders, Shea Hammond, 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.


This 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.

Stacy Lindau - Chicago, IL

First U.S. Soccer Match
USPNT v Canada in Lakewood Ranch, FL

Our son, Ben Lindau, is a USPNT player. He discovered PNT as a teen and brought the thrill of this inspiring team to our family. Among many things I love about USPNT, I'm especially inspired by the indefatigable coaching and training and the unique opportunity for civilian and military men to play and win together.


My favorite U.S. Soccer memory was cheering with other families on the sidelines of the World Cup tournament in Seville, Spain. The PNT families hail from a wide diversity of backgrounds and geographies - this diversity is strength. Team USA played not only with grit and brains, but the team (and their families!) brought to the tournament the quintessential USA level of spirit, fun and love of the game.


In addition to caring for my patients as a physician on Chicago's South Side, my work this year has focused on meaningful, STEM-related employment especially for Black and Brown youth as founder and president of MAPSCorps; alleviating hunger among healthcare workers and families of hospitalized people through Feed1st, a program I founded at U Chicago Medicine that distributed one ton of food in September alone; and eliminating racism through sport through my work as a board member of RISEtoWin.

Adam Kaplan – Matawan, NJ

I coached and watched both my kids play youth soccer. I’m fortunate that my son now represents the USA playing on the US Men's Para 7-a-Side National Team.


My favorite memories are getting to travel around the world to watch the Para 7-a-Side National Team with the players’ parents. These young men are true examples of what it means to Never Give Up. They each have overcome their own obstacles to be where they are.


This year, I have donated over 375 cases of Chocolate bars (20,000 bars) to local Hospitals and first responders in New Jersey on behalf of World's Finest Chocolate, a leading chocolate manufacturer based in Chicago. Soccer and Chocolate, 2 things that make you smile!

Rachel M. Crumbley - Fortson, GA

First U.S. Soccer Match
Too many decades ago to know.

Our younger son plays for the USPNT. One of our favorite moments was our son scoring for the USA in the 2018 Copa America tournament In Ecuador!! Unfortunately, the live stream wasn’t working, but we were beyond proud of him. We were very thankful that fellow USPNT Parent Ashley Hammond was there to message us details. Another favorite memory is FaceTimIng with our player during the opening ceremonies of the 2019 ParaPan American Games in Ecuador. We’ll never forget the excitement in his voice and on his face.

We have contributed to feeding healthcare heroes and first responders during the pandemic. We’ve also made an effort to walk with neighbors that we’ve never really known, call friends and family that were struggling, and help some who were dealing with non-Covid medical situations. Sharing homemade baked goods to lift spirits has been a thing as well.

Susie Petruccelli - Manhasset, NY

First U.S. Soccer Match
Summer 1994 – Men’s World Cup Group Stage in Pasadena, CA


I played in the ODP program as a kid and dreamed of playing on the Women’s National Team with Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm, Mary Harvey, Michelle Akers, Kristine Lilly, Joy Fawcett and all those legends. I’m also a member of the U.S. Soccer National Women’s Network.

Traveling with my mom in Sweden to watch the 1995 Women’s World Cup, watching the women win the World Cup at the Rose Bowl in 1999 and then again last summer in Lyon are my favorite memories. Impossible to pick one.


During the Pandemic, we are wearing masks, washing hands, social distancing and limiting indoor gatherings. We are following the advice of local doctors and nurse practitioners. We are donating meals to hospitals and local families. We are trying to balance physical and mental needs but also staying home as much as possible.

Carolyn Needles - North Olmsted, OH

First U.S. Soccer Match
3/8/2020 SheBelieves - USWNT vs Spain in Harrison New Jersey


I became a hardcore fan after the  USWNT loss in the 2016 Olympics because at that time in my life I was going through a very tough situation and seeing them lose and come back to dominate showed me that I could do that too. Last year I joined as a founding member of the U.S. Soccer National Women’s Network before becoming a community chair this year.


My favorite U.S. Soccer moment had to be the ticker tape parade in NYC. I loved the atmosphere of the parade. I could feel the game was bigger than I thought it was by seeing all the fans come from all over to experience this event. Additionally, one of the greatest interviews happened during that time too.


During the pandemic, I have tried to support my community by ordering food from local business to ensure they stay open. My family has given money and meals to local after school programs so the kids could enjoy nutritious meals. I have bought clothes from the Beat Everybody brand for others in order to help raise their total profit which was donated to Hunger Not Impossible.

Seán Patrick Crane - Enfield, CT

First U.S. Soccer Match
1996 Olympics – USWNT vs. China


I have been a fan of the United States Women's National Team for well over two decades. I have also been a direct supporter of the USWNT and U.S. Soccer for the past several years.


My favorite U.S. Soccer memory is the USWNT's FIFA World Cup Semi-Final victory over England on July 2, 2019. I watched the match with a group of England supporters in a pub in Cheltenham, England. (And I lived to tell about it - quite a feat, especially when one considers Alex Morgan's "That's the Tea" celebratory goal gesture!)


I am a Social Studies Teacher at Enfield High School in Enfield, Connecticut. Through my work with my students in that role, I have supported my community on an everyday basis. I have also donated to a number of fundraisers for local, national, and international fundraisers (ex. Enfield Food Shelf, Hope for Cancer, John Boyle O'Reilly Club, Australian Wildfires and various musical artists who cannot currently tour).

Lexus Beaman - Pasadena, CA

First U.S. Soccer Match
12/8/2004 – USWNT vs. Mexico in Carson, CA.


I started playing soccer at age 3 and continued playing through high school. As a family, we loved watching games on tv and going to LA Galaxy games when possible. We went to David Beckham’s first game for the Galaxy, too. World Cup years are my favorite because watching soccer all the time is acceptable!

One of my favorite U.S. soccer memories was watching the USWNT win the World Cup in 2019. We went to a big watch party in Chicago and finished off the game at a bar where every tv had the game on. It was such an exciting game. Everywhere we went after the game, people were cheering when they saw I was wearing a jersey (No. 9 for the GOAT Mia Hamm). It was such an electric day all around.


We have tried to order take out every week to support small restaurants. We have also tried to purchase items from small businesses from whenever possible. I work in fundraising at a high school and have continued to make sure the school has enough funds to employ all faculty and staff and provide scholarships to students in need.

Organized Supporters Groups

Organized Supporters Groups dedicate their time to organize passionate and enthusiastic support for our 22 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!

Eddie Stiel - San Francisco, CA

First U.S. Soccer Match
12/13/1996 – USMNT vs. Costa Rica in Stanford, Calif.


The 1994 World Cup piqued my interest. I bought season tickets for the San Jose Clash in 1996. From that point I was hooked. I became a fan of the national teams, especially attending matches in person. I have 102 caps and was one of the first founding members of the U.S. Soccer Supporters Club in April 2009.


My favorite memory was the epic 2009 MNT victory vs. Honduras at San Pedro Sula, a classic match which qualified the team for 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Thank you, Conor Casey!!! We barely got to the game on time after our first flight had to make an emergency medical stop in Mexico City, missed the connection in San Salvador, caught a later one and rushed from the airport to the stadium with a Bay Area Honduran family we met at SFO Airport. After the match, they hosted us overnight at their San Pedro home.


Throughout the pandemic, I continued volunteering with Food Not Bombs and added volunteer shifts with the San Francisco Food Bank. I couldn't hang with working from home, so I got a job as an essential worker, a grocery clerk!

George Wells - Stamford, CT

First U.S. Soccer Match
6/30/2015 – USWNT vs Germany in Montreal, Canada


I have played soccer my entire life, including at the collegiate level, and continue to play in public leagues in NYC during my professional career. I joined as an Insider this year to channel my passion for the sport in this country as it continues to grow. I have high hopes for the MNT that they will make a big statement at the top level of international soccer in this decade, and I am confident the WNT will continue to dominate!

One of my favorite memories is driving across the border from New York to Montreal to see the WNT defeat Germany 2-0 in the semifinals of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. At the border, we were stuck in an hour or two long traffic jam as thousands of WNT supporters headed north for the match. It was one of the most patriotic experiences I have ever had: anthems blasting out the windows, fans waving and cheering from their cars, all decked out in U.S Soccer apparel.


I have donated money to organizations such as The Farmlink project which connects food pantries and emergency food programs with farmers who have excess produce. I am also supporting local businesses and practicing proper Covid-safe protocols when interacting with the people around me.

Jordan McNamee - Kissimmee, FL

First U.S. Soccer Match
6/8/2012 - USMNT vs. Antigua & Barbuda in Tampa, Fla.


I always played soccer growing up and I’ve always been passionate about the National Teams. I have had the opportunity to attend 18 MNT games, 2 WNT games and 1 YNT game since my first cap in 2012. I’m hoping this number will grow as soon as it’s safe to be back in the stadium! My next goal is the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

One of my favorite USMNT memories is being at the two games in the summer of 2015 in the Netherlands and Germany - we won both games against two of the highest-ranked national teams in the world. I still remember that moment when Bobby Wood grabbed the winner against Germany - it was a real great feeling.


I have been supporting all local businesses throughout the year to ensure I’m doing my bit to help them through the difficult period. I’ve also been spending a lot of time on video calls with my family and friends this year to make sure they’re coping throughout this difficult time.

John Palinski - Annapolis, MD

First U.S. Soccer Match
04/25/2001 - USMNT vs. Costa Rica in Kansas City


I have played pretty much as often as possible since age three. Along with a great group of friends and a supportive wife, I have had the opportunity to travel frequently to watch our national teams play, especially during World Cups. We've been to each Men's World Cup since 2002 and most of the Women's World Cups during that period, and we tend to make a vacation out of it with room for the soccer-obsessed and less-soccer-obsessed to have fun. "Passionate" may not be strong enough for my level of US Soccer fandom.

If I had to pick my favorite U.S. Soccer moment, it's hard not to go with Landon Donovan's goal at the 2010 World Cup in Pretoria, South Africa. Fortunately, we have some great video evidence of our celebration. I would also say that, finally beating Ghana in Natal, after they had sent us home and ruined the end of our travels in Germany and South Africa, was pretty great too. For our amazing USWNT, I think it would have to be the 2015 semifinal against Germany in Montreal - but Rapinoe to Wambach against Brazil in 2011 was pretty great too...I could go on.


It's been tough and we have wanted to do more. We had our first child, Dominic, in April amidst the pandemic. Fortunately, he is happy and healthy, and almost certainly a future USMNT star - we're thinking a big two-footed center half. Like so many other fans, I miss watching matches in a pub. So, we have been trying to order food locally and support our go-to pub's staff individually. We contribute financially to the amazing folks and causes in our community who are out there on the frontlines.


Nick Roman - Rockford, IL

First U.S. Soccer Match
5/16/1999 - USWNT vs Netherlands in Chicago, Ill.


I’ve played soccer or have been connected to soccer in some capacity my entire life. I’m currently a coach for a local club as well as the Goalkeeper Director for the Illinois Olympic Development Program through the Illinois Youth Soccer Association.

Some of my favorite moments across the years have ranged from watching the USWNT win the 1999 World Cup to seeing the game winning goal the USMNT scored against Algeria at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. I also had the privilege of being a keeper coach for the U.S. Soccer Girls Fantasy Camp in 2019 alongside USWNT veterans Lindsay Tarpley-Snow and Angela Hucles.


Throughout the pandemic, my wife and I have supported our local restaurants. We’ve also donated clothing to our local Goodwill as well as donated to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

Michael Saad - Lewis Center, OH (Best of U.S. 2019)

First U.S. Soccer Match
7/6/2003 – MNT vs. Paraguay in Columbus, OH


Probably contrary to the norm, I had no experience or exposure to the sport during my youth growing up in Michigan. Shortly after moving to Columbus for college, I befriended my future Best Man, who wound up traveling to Korea for the 2002 World Cup. Upon his return to Ohio State, he encouraged me to attend the Paraguay match on July 4th weekend at Crew Stadium. The rest is history...30+ caps and 17 years later, there is no team more important to me.

There are so many memories to choose from...attending games all over the country for so many years. We have met so many incredible people from different cities that have become lifelong friends. Copa America Centenario 2016 is up there for sure, but the most memorable moment for me happened during our brief time living in Washington, DC. The electricity and emotion in RFK Stadium during the Charlie Davies tribute in the final 2010 World Cup South Africa WCQ will stick with me forever.


We've been lucky enough to experience wonderful outdoor dining weather here in Columbus for a large portion of 2020, and we've taken every opportunity with our family to support the local breweries on those beautiful days. Whether it's weekly growler fills, ordering drinks for delivery or dining in outdoor beer gardens, we've done everything possible to support those local businesses during these tough times.

Mick Weeks - Moorestown, NJ

First U.S. Soccer Match
6/12/2010 – MNT vs England in Rustenberg, SA


I played soccer growing up and have been a lifelong fan. I attended my first World Cup in 2010 in South Africa. In 2014 I joined the Patrons' Program so that my family could join in the experience in a worry- and stress-free environment that let us focus on the games. We have since attended the 2015 and 2019 Women's World Cups as part of the Patrons' Program and have enjoyed the matches and the camaraderie with fellow fans. We have also appreciated the opportunities to support youth development.


It's hard to pick one memory, but a few that stand out include watching from the stands as Landon Donovan scored to send the U.S. to the round of 16 in the 2010 World Cup. We were also fortunate to attend the last two Women's World Cup finals in 2015 in Vancouver and 2019 in Lyon.


I have been a coach of my son's U9 travel team and helped our club navigate playing during COVID. I also successfully ran for a seat on the local School Board, focusing on how we could continue to improve instruction for all students during and after COVID-19.

Kirsten Harrison-Jack - La Jolla , CA

First U.S. Soccer Match
11/19/2011 – WNT vs Sweden in Glendale AZ


My daughter is a goalkeeper for Pepperdine University and has been an avid competitive player since age seven. She attended Fantasy camp through U.S. Soccer, and we’ve been staunch supporters ever since, joining the Circle Program a few years ago. We’ve been to two World Cup quarter through finals and absolutely love every aspect of the game!

My daughter got to be a ball girl in San Diego for her all-time idol Hope Solo and was High-fived by her after the game. Bar none, best memory!


As a Psychologist with a degree also in Biomedical Sciences and Nutrition, I’ve researched nutritional prevention against COVID-19 and provided plans adopted by South Sudanese minister of health. I organized a mask drive and helped with the prevalent PTSD pandemic. Throughout it all, my daughter’s optimistic training regimen and fitness despite her postponed season and athletes living on deserted campuses has been incredibly inspiring.


Marcus Cranston - Las Vegas, NV

First U.S. Soccer Match
7/20/1996 – U.S. Men's Olympic Team vs. Argentina


I've been a fan of the USMNT since the 1990 World Cup. I've followed the USMNT to every World Cup since 1998. Currently, I attend USMNT and USWNT games under the alias, "Eagleman".


My wife, Lila, and I attended our first US Soccer game during the 1996 Olympics. We had to scalp an extra ticket, when we found out our one-year-old daughter needed her own ticket to get into the stadium. It was all worth it when Claudio Reyna scored a goal for the U.S. in the game's first minute.


When the COVID outbreak began, we sewed masks for the community. One batch of masks were made for our local USL team, Las Vegas Lights FC. USMNT legend Eric Wynalda, who was coaching the team, picked up the masks himself.

Jordan Janis - Phoenix, AZ

First U.S. Soccer Match
10/06/2017 – USMNT vs. Panama in Orlando, Fla.


The Beautiful Game just invokes an incredible amount of joy in my life. As a proud American, U.S. Soccer melds my love for this great sport with my love for my county.

One of my favorite memories is taking my daughter, who was then 10 months old, to her first match, MNT vs. Guyana in Minnesota for the 2019 Gold Cup! Amazing stadium. Great win. Sat in field seats. Vowed that day to always do a daddy-daughter U.S. Soccer trip every year, but that was sidelined this year with COVID-19.


I am a Dentist who works with underserved children in Phoenix, Ariz. I have been available for all emergency and routine dental care throughout the pandemic, as well as participated in numerous food drives as part of our Community Health Center!

Amie Hesbach - The Hague, Netherlands

First U.S. Soccer Match
7/1/1999 – USWNT vs. Germany in Landover, Md.


Both my husband, Tom, and I played soccer when growing up in Virginia and Ohio, respectively. Our daughter, Siena, now 12, has played soccer in Massachusetts since she was 4, and is now finishing her second year playing with a Dutch club in the Netherlands. We've always been fans of the US Soccer teams, but especially the USWNT, seeing how the team (and staff)  serve as role models for girls and women, not only in the U.S., but also internationally, too.

Our favorite soccer memory is absolutely the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final! The weeks leading up to the final were so exciting, whether viewing with friends in the USA or live in Lyon. We especially were thrilled that the USA played the Netherlands as we were moving there in August 2019 for an expat assignment. We found that the community surrounding the WWC was so inclusive and positive, whether American, French, English, Dutch, or from other participating countries. Obviously, the outcome was the pinnacle of a most amazing trip.


During the Pandemic, we are definitely trying to keep in touch with our community - both here in the Netherlands and back home in Massachusetts - shopping local, supporting local businesses and restaurants, and reaching out to friends and family around the world.

Sumeet Anand - San Diego, Calif.

First U.S. Soccer Match
6/12/06 – USMNT vs. Czech Republic in Gelsenkirchen, 2006 World Cup in Germany


I played soccer as a youth and really got caught up in the 1994 World Cup mania. I’ve been a fan ever since and am excited to be a VIP insider for past few years.

When I look back, there are so many great moments that stand out. From attending the Men’s World Cup in Germany 2006, South Africa 2010, & Brazil 2014 to watching Landon Donovan and Brian McBride secure the historic Dos a Cero at the 2002 World Cup.


As a healthcare worker, I see the pandemic’s impact each day, but I still want to do more. Things have been difficult for many families, so I’ve made donations to multiple charities and provided packed meals at a local religious center.

Matthew Eison - Greenville, S.C.

First U.S. Soccer Match
10/13/2004 – USMNT vs. Panama in Washington, D.C.

I grew up playing age-group soccer, but wasn't very good -- however, I enjoyed rooting on my childhood friends as they won several state high school championships. I watched soccer on PBS as a child, "Soccer Made in Germany," but never knew I had the chance to watch soccer outside of a World Cup until the early 2000s. Since then, I’ve gone to see the USMNT play at Azteca three times, Costa Rica once, and at the World Cup in Germany and Brazil, and places around the USA — 49 games in all!


I’ve loved watching games in person and in bars with the Sammers and American Outlaws. I’ve also enjoyed getting to meet the players as well as media covering the team. It was incredible to be there for Charlie Davies and Michael Bradley’s goals at Azteca and when we beat Ghana in Natal, but being there when the team qualified for the World Cup and came back on the field to celebrate with the approximately 200 fans still in the stadium about two hours after the game ended in Columbus in 2013 was a memory I’ll never forget.


Honestly, it’s hard to say how we've supported our community during the pandemic because nothing feels like enough. Certainly, our friends and family have tried to be there for each other during this difficult time; it’s been good to have the Greenville Triumph locally who did a great job of masking up and enforcing social distancing for games as they brought the fans back as well as a championship for Greenville!


Photo mosaic by: ussoccer @ Mosaically