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U.S. fans come dressed to be seen and heard
By Jill Lieber
Tues., June 16, 1998
PARIS -- There's a proper way to cheer at a World Cup soccer game.
``Jurgen Klinsmann, superstar;
``Carries a purse and wears a bra!''
And it sounds so much more intimidating if your face is completely covered in stars and stripes, and you're wearing a ``U.S. Soccer Rules!'' T-shirt; a sarong fashioned out of an American flag; red, white and blue leis and a pair of flip-flops. And it looks so much more insane if you lift your sarong from time to time to reveal nothing but a pair of underpants and a cardboard cutout of Uncle Sam covering your private parts.
Yeah, that's really showing those Germans.
Pat Fraley, a 22-year-old soccer player from Dallas, came absolutely dressed to thrill for Monday's USA-Germany game at the Parc des Princes. On a six-week European tour with the Dallas Speed, a college all-star team, Fraley looked like Uncle Sam in drag. The way he strutted around Section B01, encouraging all the other
U.S. fans in the end zone to let it all hang out, he might as well have been on a Paris catwalk.
``If we're not all hoarse and naked by the end of the game,'' Fraley told everybody around him, ``then we haven't had a good time.''
Never mind that the 5,000 or so American fans in the crowd of 43,815 were outnumbered almost 7-1 by the army of Germans. Never mind that Klinsmann eventually scored a goal midway into the second half to ice Germany's 2-0 victory against the USA. As far as Fraley was concerned, the more screaming, yelling, whooping, hollering and downright ugly American behavior, the better to instill fear in the hearts of the opposition. Let them know soccer has arrived in the USA.
``The atmosphere in the U.S. cheering section is 10 times better than it was at the 1990 World Cup in Italy,'' Fraley says. ``The generation that plays soccer has matured into passionate soccer fans. They understand the heart and blood of the sport. Americans finally know how to cheer.''
Says his friend Brian Croston, 27, dressed in a paper flag vest: ``From the moment you step into the stadium, you've got to scream your lungs out. Let the other countries know that they can't push us around.''
``Over there, over there
``Send the word, send the word, over there.
``That the Yanks are coming,
``And we won't be running anymore.''
Meanwhile, two rows behind Fraley, six members of the U.S. under-20 national team were making fashion statements of their own. They were competely shirtless and covered from head to toe in red, white and blue body paint. Wrapped in gigantic American flags. Rusty Pierce, 18, of Oklahoma City dyed his crewcut red and rubbed blue all over his face.
Perched in the second level, the 40-member contingent of Groff's Brigade, with its specially designed red, white and blue Arc de Triomphe scarves and limited-edition gold pins, was causing its own ruckus. Six months ago, the Brigade members didn't know each other. They met over the Internet, kindred soccer souls from across the country, searching for a vacation in France, tickets to the U.S. games and the chance to help bring respect to American soccer and American soccer fans. Now they're acting like best friends.
``This is the ultimate in soccer,'' says Charlynn Helms, 36. ``This is the best sporting event in the entire world. All you have to do is scream and shout and sing. The more off-key you are, the better. Make up the ditties as you go. The sillier, the better. You've just got to make sure you let the rest of the soccer world know you're American and that you're a force to be reckoned with.
``We're not expecting any more from this World Cup than two things:
That the U.S. plays its heart out and we have a great time.''
©COPYRIGHT 1997 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.