When it comes to the World Cup, there is one thing that the USMNT and its traveling fans have in common – they both want to experience the tournament with their family. While goalkeeper Tim Howard’s dad cheers for his son from the stands, another father-son duo is experiencing the game in a different way.
This is Patrick Adams’ fifth World Cup, but for him, Brazil is unique because this time he brought his eight-year-old son Benjamin. Adams is a founding member of the U.S. Fan Club, and now he and his son are members in the supporters group American Outlaws as well. This is his son’s first World Cup, and he wants to make it count.
“I tell my son all the time, when I was a kid, you couldn’t wake up and watch soccer on TV like we do on Saturday mornings,” Adams said. “He shouldn’t take it for granted that he can find it on three channels pretty much any time.”
The Adams’ are Major League Soccer fans and support FC Dallas and the New York Red Bulls. But being in Brazil, a country where soccer is embedded into the culture, is different.
“The energy is fantastic and the Brazilians have been really good hosts, so we’re enjoying it immensely,” he said.
Benjamin plays soccer with his dad and wants to be a professional soccer player, hopefully for the USMNT, when he grows up.
“We play a lot and obviously the U.S. team’s success goes a long way in getting kids excited about the game,” Adams said.
He remembers what it was like for U.S. fans to be few and far between.
“In 1998, U.S., Iran, the stadium was dominated by Iranian fans and we lost, 2 to 1, and it was a pretty miserable experience as a U.S. fan,” he said. “Four years later in Germany, the fan support was much better. I’d say 25 percent of the stadium was U.S. fans, and then of course in South Africa, half the stadium or more was U.S. fans, so we can’t wait to get to the stadium today to see the support.”
Another young soccer fan could not contain his excitement about being in Brazil for the World Cup.
“I’ve always loved soccer and this is one of the best experiences I will probably ever have,” said 15-year-old Jordan Molinski. “I’d love to go to more World Cups. I’m really excited to see the U.S. play.”
The Davis, California, native has played soccer since he was five years old and is thrilled to be in Brazil. “This is all I’ve ever known,” Molinski said. “I’ve known the U.S. as pretty reasonably good at soccer, but I think as it’s progressed, it’s gotten better and better for the U.S. Men’s National Team. So, I think it will continue to progress and we’ll make it farther and farther every year.”
For the past two World Cups, Molinski has been hinting to his mom that they should go, and finally that dream became a reality. Jordan and his mother, Denise Manker, are experiencing their first World Cup together.
“It’s really great for a number of reasons,” Manker said. “Going out of the U.S. is a completely different experience, and Brazil is a very unique country. Getting to really see the premiere soccer in the world is just an amazing experience, and being able to support the U.S. team is fabulous, so we’re really excited to be here.”
Being in Brazil for the World Cup is as good as it gets for soccer family of four, Ted, Lisa, Anneliese and Mathias Glickley. This is Ted’s fifth World Cup, but first with the whole family.
“We love soccer and we just really wanted to come to a World Cup,” Glickley said. The 48-year-old started playing when he was seven and still plays soccer, as do his two kids.
“I think with our kids, because they both play the sport, hopefully that inspires them to say, ‘I want to be that next player on the team,’” he said. “And they play that much harder.”
For John Siggins, going to his second World Cup with his son Matthew and brother Doug is a special experience given the history and culture of Brazil.
“Brazil’s a great nation, but also it’s known for football,” Siggins said. “If you ever wanted to go to a World Cup, this would be the place to go just because of the passion for it.”
The Roanoke, Virginia, resident believes the U.S. is becoming more cultured in soccer. “I’ve seen it really progress and get more talented. If you look at things like MLS, 10 or 20 years ago, it wasn’t thought of as a great league,” he said. “Now, it’s starting to gain a lot of respect throughout the world.”
Although some fans and their families are experiencing the World Cup for the first time, Tanya Keith’s family has soccer in their blood. It all started after she watched U.S. versus Germany in 1993 and fell in love with the sport.
She went to the 1994 World Cup and has been following the USMNT ever since. The mega soccer fan just published a book “Passionate Soccer Love,” which chronicles her journey as a fan over the past 20 years. The book is mainly about the growth of supporter culture in the U.S., both for the USMNT and MLS, and then it also serves as a travel diary of some of her crazy soccer-induced adventures.
“It’s all about my history as a supporter,” she said. “It’s amazing to be a part of this supporter movement now, having been there when there weren’t any supporters and nobody was chanting, and now it’s just incredible. It’s such a good feeling. It almost brings a tear to my eye when I see a full stadium of U.S. soccer fans because when I started following, you couldn’t even get a full section of supporters.”
The Des Moines, Iowa, mom is happy to be here with her family. She and husband Doug Jotzke have two children, Aviva and Raphael.
“I was five months pregnant with my daughter in Korea in 2002, so we count that as her first World Cup and we just call it ‘obstructed view seating’ and then this is my son’s first World Cup because he’s only six,” she said.
She hopes that her love of soccer will teach her children important life lessons and values.
“Obviously, soccer is the number one important thing in our family,” she said. “We want them to know that following your adventure and doing what you love is just as important as making a good living and being a good person. That you should live your life with passion, preferably for soccer.”