It’s no secret that soccer is the most popular sport in the world. But for decades, the big question when it came to soccer in the United States was: Will it ever catch hold here? Relegated to the back page of the sports section and the occasional mention on SportsCenter, soccer lived on the fringes.

At the 2014 men’s World Cup in Brazil, there were more fans from the United States than other country save the host nation. And the unofficial fan group of US Soccer, The American Outlaws, were the largest, loudest, and best organized supporter group of any team at the Cup. We know because we were there. We were there when tens of thousands of voices belted out the Star Spangled Banner in Natal before the first match, against Ghana. And we were there when the stadium in Manaus erupted in pandemonium after Jermaine Jones rocketed the equalizer against powerhouse Portugal.


The American Outlaws are a cultural phenomenon. With more than 30,000 paid members and local chapters in all 50 states, they are a force to be reckoned with. They organize, they travel, and when they show up, they make their presence known. That kind of fan support has been a game changer for US Soccer. And it ain’t easy.

Imagine organizing a geographically dispersed fan group for a team with no home field. You play your home games in a bunch of cities, spread out all over the country, and your away games are in places that are hard to get to, often played in hostile stadiums that necessitate police escorts… for the fans.



We had been working with AO for a couple years already when we had the idea of documenting the US fan experience at the World Cup. Our first couple videos had gotten some nice traction on YouTube. We wanted to go bigger and, as always, The Outlaws were game. Our idea was to travel to Brazil with the fans as an embedded film crew and document the experience. What we needed was a brand to sponsor the project. A lot of pieces had to fall in place to make the dream a reality. At the same time, the smart and creative folks at Gilt Edge Marketing in Chicago were pitching their client, Unilever, on some branded content ideas for the World Cup. Six months later, our five-person production crew was on a charter plane amongst The Outlaws, bound for Brazil.


Our task was to follow The Outlaws for as long as the US team was still playing. We filmed every day for three weeks straight, bringing back footage at the end of each day to edit. The next day, a three to four person crew would go out and shoot more scenes while one or two of us would stay behind at the hotel to edit and upload the latest episodes.


We built on online hub for the project, AOInBrazil.com, as a place to channel media and fans. A primary social strategy was to leverage Instagram on the site, aggregating photos and videos from hundreds of US fans in Brazil. The Outlaws became a major part of the American World Cup story, with features appearing in Sports Illustrated, ESPN, CNN, The Today Show, and more.