USA Holds its Head High at Estacio Azteca: 2018 World Cup Qualifiers, USA v Mexico

Six minutes in and America scores. Never has this happened at Estacio Azteca. Veteran Michael Bradley scored on a long shot that soared right over Mexico goalie Guillermo Ochoa’s leaping outstretched hand. The stadium went from shaking to a stunned silence that was punctured only by the rabid American Outlaws supporters group. While Mexico eventually equalized, and the match ended in a 1 – 1 draw, the USA showed that far from being outclassed by the rest of the world, its men’s soccer is rising up to a level not seen since the 1930 national team placed third.

In scoring first and leading in Estacio Azteca, arguably the harshest environment for an opponent, the US Men’s team shows that going into the Russia 2018 World Cup, they are contenders that can compete on the biggest stage. With the growing status of soccer within the US and the country’s unique and evolving infrastructure for the sport, the future is bright for American soccer. At least for now, fans of the USA Men’s National Team can hold their heads high with the knowledge that their team can compete on the world stage as an equal and not as an afterthought.

Stay with The Brace Phoenix team for full coverage of the US national team and the growing support of soccer in the United States.

AZ Gooners turn out for the FA Cup

Yesterday, The Brace Phoenix team watched the FA Cup Finals with the Arizona Gooners at their home bar, the Yucca Taproom in Tempe.  We walked in at 9 AM, and immediately the group’s leadership handed us team flags and yellow ribbons.  After helping move the pinball machine out of the way of the projector, we wandered around the diverse crowd of people being introduced, greeting on another, and hugging.  All of this took place under a professional banner that Arsenal & Arsenal America sent for the days’ event.

At Yucca Taproom the Arizona Gooners have their own room – complete with 5 TVs, a projector screen, sound system, a room specific bar with a large beer selection (I think 29 on tap), a pool table, and bathrooms.  Last week, for the final game of the Premier League season, the room was about half full with 40 people.  At the FA Cup, the room was packed, and somewhat hard to move around, leading us to estimate that at least 80 people were there.

The atmosphere was incredible. Cheers broke out spontaneously, often originating at the front of the room, where much of the AZ Gooners’ leadership stood.  The atmosphere was passionate throughout, pitching and rolling with the plays the entire time.  The camaraderie was also on display as the loud room went absolutely still during the minute of silence for victims of the Manchester attack.

At the end of the game a large group of supporters, who signed up, hopped onto a chartered bus and went bar-hopping around town.  Before that, the AZ Gooners’ leadership thanked the supporters for a great season, made heart filled remarks about members who were leaving town, and told the crowd about the need for another board member to be elected.  Then pizza was brought in for those who stuck around.

The Brace Phoenix team members that were there, were impressed.  The Arizona Gooners are very well organized, incredibly warm, very, very diverse, and spirited.  They and the Yucca Taproom have created a truly impassioned and important space that hosts an impressive and seemingly sacred community.

Where to watch the FA Cup Finals in Phoenix

Arsenal and Chelsea square off in the FA Cup Finals this Saturday, May 27th, 2017.  Here’s what you need to know if you are going to be in Phoenix.

Game time: 9:30 AM Arizona time

Top Arsenal bar: Yucca Tap Room, 29 W Southern Ave, Tempe, AZ 85282.  This is where the Arizona Gooners (https://www.facebook.com/groups/arizonagooners/) meet up.  You should arrive early:  Last week for the last Premier League game of the season there were 40 people there, and many, many more are expected to show up for this.

Top Chelsea bar: Chambers on First, 705 N 1st St, Phoenix, AZ 85004.  This is where the Phoenix Blues (https://www.facebook.com/phxblues/) meet up.