American Outlaws Hamilton tifo, Mar. 24, 2017

You might say that American soccer fans, looking to inspire the Yanks in a crucial home World Cup qualifier this past Friday night, didn’t throw away their shot.

A contingent of fans from the three main Bay Area chapters of American Outlaws — many of whom also back the San Jose Earthquakes — prepared a tifo inspired by the wildly popular musical Hamilton for the match. It was a match, incidentally, in which the U.S. made the most of their nine shots (eight on goal) to blank Honduras 6-0 and get their CONCACAF Hexagonal campaign back on track.

Ideas for the tifo came shortly after the match at Avaya was announced, but it was Oakland AO chapter president Heather Hendricks — a devoted fan of both Hamilton and US Soccer -- who saw that the moment was right for a tifo to declare, “Not Throwing Away Our Shot.”

“She brought the idea to us, explaining how much the lyrics to ‘My Shot’ were a parallel to the situation the USMNT were in going in to this game,” says Crystal Cuadra-Cutler, president of AO’s San Jose chapter. It also helped that, as Cuadra-Cutler noticed, most of the tifo crew went to see Hamilton in San Francisco the week before the game.

Fourteen adults and one six-year-old child in all — six of whom had never worked on a tifo before — spent more than 30 hours sewing the 67.5-foot-by-45-foot sheet together and then painting it.

The story behind US Men's National Team supporters' 'Hamilton'-themed tifo -

Photo courtesy of Crystal Cuadra-Cutler

They finished the bulk of the work at a local community center, with the tifo staying in the trunk of Cuadra-Cutler’s car for the first two weeks of its creation.

The story behind US Men's National Team supporters' 'Hamilton'-themed tifo -
The story behind US Men's National Team supporters' 'Hamilton'-themed tifo -

Photos courtesy of Crystal Cuadra-Cutler

But then the crew moved the tifo to Avaya for the final stages.

“The Quakes have been generous in allowing us to use their parking lot to work on tifo, both for this project and for last year's Copa tifo,” Cuadra-Cutler says. On game day, supporters got into the stadium and used the elevator system to help set up on the stadium’s upper deck.

But while the front office cooperated; weather did not. “The rain threw a wrench in our original plan to deploy bottom to top, and instead we had to unroll it and prepare for it to deploy downward," she says. "Leaving the tifo upstairs kept it out of the rain as it waited out for the game to start.”

Because of the crossing streams, naturally, the tifo stretched on social media beyond the usual soccer crowd. The US Soccer Twitter account, though, tagged Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda in a tweet, which prompted Miranda himself to share with his own fans.

“I woke up to a deluge of notifications,” Cuadra-Cutler says. “It was apparent that this was something special, and when I looked a little closer, I found out that Miranda had shared our tifo not once, but twice. It is completely beyond the wildest dreams of the tifo crew that we would get that kind of recognition, and everyone was elated."