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From Cult To Religion: Meet Soccer’s American Outlaws

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Indeed, the growth of the group — and, it can be said, of U.S. soccer in general — was fueled in large part by BigSoccer, a massive online community of forums and blogs.

In an at times soccer-unfriendly media environment, BigSoccer has driven the conversation and community since it was founded in 2000. Frank Fraser, one of the founding members of the New York City chapter of the AOs, says he and other New York soccer fans first noticed the American Outlaws on BigSoccer.

“On BigSoccer we started noticing a group of young guys from Nebraska who were trying to spread the word for a new supporters group,” Fraser says.

In the summer of 2008, Fraser and the other New York fans met with the AOs at a match between the U.S. and Argentina. Shortly thereafter they officially formed the organization’s New York City chapter.

BigSoccer demonstrates how the logistics for soccer fandom in the U.S is a far cry from the other major sports — soccer fans need the Internet to stay connected. Most of the top U.S. players play professionally abroad, meaning that fans often get up at 7 a.m. on the East Coast or 4 a.m. on the West Coast to watch them. Many of the fans resort to watching grainy, pixelated Internet feeds, which are the only sources for following players in smaller countries, such as Denmark or Greece.

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