HELENA — The Helena chapter of the American Outlaws hosted a watch party Tuesday at the Windbag Saloon for the U.S. Men’s National Team’s must-win game in the World Cup Group B finale against Iran.
The U.S. team prevailed 1-0 to move into the knockout round.
The American Outlaws are soccer fans that follow the U.S. men's and women's national soccer teams. The organization is a non-profit and has over 200 chapters across the country, creating a community in which soccer fans can tailgate and have watch parties together. Outlaws members will also travel to games together to cheer on the U.S. national teams.
One of the founders of the Helena Chapter, Max Croes, is at the tournament in Qatar and as been seen on the Cup’s broadcasts sporting his Montana jersey.
“It was wild seeing that Montana flag on TV,” Phil McGovern, Outlaws member and Executive Director of the Helena Youth Soccer Association said.
For soccer fans in Helena the American Outlaws provide a sense of community.
“Even if you're by yourself, you're going to be able to go in, and there's going to be other people rooting for the same team that you're rooting for,” McGovern said.
And as someone who works in youth soccer, seeing the game grow before his eyes has been special for McGovern.
"It fuels our kids passion, when they see us do well as a national team, both the women and the men. And I mean, the women obviously have won the World Cup several times. So it's time we get get after it," he said.
The Helena chapter got to celebrate as a unit Tuesday after the final whistle blew and the U.S. held on.
“It’s so great to see the spirit of soccer. It’s fabulous! I’m so glad to see it’s grown in Montana. It’s so fun of a game,” soccer fan John Zavalney said.
With the 1-0 win the USMNT eliminated Iran and is through to the knockout stage where they will play Netherlands.
"The Netherlands, they'll be a challenge," McGovern said. "What a fun group to play. I mean, their fans are just as crazy as our fans," he laughed.
The American Outlaws Helena Chapter can be reached on their Facebook page.