By Daniel Moxon – dmoxon_
Part two in our two-part ‘American Liverpool’ series. Part one can be found here HERE
We take it for granted sometimes, those of us that are lucky enough to be able to pop to Anfield on a near-fortnightly basis – it’s habitual for some.
For Reds fans outside of Merseyside and around the UK it can be difficult to make it to the games, but that is nothing to those who are dotted all over the globe. For many it is little more than a pipe dream, stranded thousands of miles away with some having to wake up at unsociable hours to even watch on TV.
For Katie Schmidt, 32, a Junior Underwriter living in Detroit, Michigan, it seemed like an impossible task – the chances to be able to be able to go to Liverpool to watch a game seldom come around, until the Reds came to her.
As part of their pre-season Liverpool embarked on a three-game US tour and, luckily for Katie, the final game was to be staged just down the road in Ann Arbor.
Of course, she didn’t hesitate in grabbing her chance to watch Liverpool in person for the first time in her 15 years of supporting the Reds. What made it even better is that she witnessed her heroes demolish bitter rivals Manchester United 4-1 at the 100,000+ capacity Michigan Stadium – not a bad first game to see!
“There really aren’t any words for what an experience that was for me”, she told The Kopite. “It was pretty emotional, honestly.
“The atmosphere was electric, the fans were amazing and just being in the same place as the guys was pretty surreal, though I didn’t get an opportunity to get very close!”
An incredible experience it was, though the result meant little more than bragging rights in a pre-season International Champions Cup game. That being said, there was one other special surprise that day, when new-signing Xherdan Shaqiri announced himself in the most emphatic of ways.
The man, signed for peanuts from Stoke City, notched the final goal of the game in the 82nd minute, when he produced a stunning acrobatic overhead-kick to send Liverpool fans in the arena, and those watching around the world, into raptures.
“The electricity in the stadium when Shaq delivered that beaut was unmatched”, Katie said of the Swiss’ special strike.
While many fans back home bemoan the friendly trips abroad, that 90 minutes of pre-season football will mean the world to the 32-year-old and others like her that were watching the Reds for the first time that day.
“There’s no question that these stateside pre-season tours are impactful for us. The opportunity to get out to a match and, in some cases, even meet the guys really is a once in a lifetime for us.”
For those who are worried that the Premier League might follow the example set by La Liga and play regular-season games across the pond, you will find an ally in Katie, though she is grateful for the club’s acknowledgement of their supporters the world over.
“I would never want any EPL matches to take place outside of England, as that seems wrong, but I think these pre-season matches are a great way to appreciate that they have an international fanbase who can’t always get to Anfield. At least not without thousands of dollars, anyway!”
The resumption of the league campaign for the 2018/19 season means its back to watching Jurgen Klopp’s men in action from her sofa or local bar, but she should certainly keep watching – the Reds look like they mean business this time around.
“I’m a huge optimist when it comes to LFC. I don’t think anyone can remain pessimistic about our chances in light of our first three outcomes. Coming into the season, I honestly thought Salah, Firmino, and Mane would take the spotlight once again but I think it’s really been our solid defence.
“Virgil van Dijk, Gomez, and Alisson have been unreal and if we continue to see them mesh well together, I think we can potentially keep a clean sheet. I don’t think I’m alone in being pleasantly surprised with Milner and Sturridge so far, either – they’re having a great season so far and I’m only expecting to see us improve from here.
“Keita and Shaqiri have been great additions who both seem to have a knack for creating opportunities and we can’t forget Trent who is sometimes forgotten when we have such a great 11 out there. We’re only getting started, too. I think we’re only going to see better moving forward, especially once Fabinho and Shaqiri become familiar with our style of play.”
Of all the talent about which she waxes lyrical, Katie, like many, has been the most impressed with the dominant performances from Joe Gomez of late.
“I’m not even at the least missing Dejan Lovren, to be honest. This is Gomez’s season and he’s already showing that he’s up for it.
“There’s no question that we’re definitely on our way to winning the Premier League if we just stay on this forward momentum and continue meshing well together as a team.”
Many American fans would have to settle for more fleeting visits of the team to their homeland if they wanted to watch the Reds in action again, but Katie has plans of her own to change all that for herself.
“I do actually have high hopes of getting myself to Anfield in the future. I may someday even live close enough to get to more than one match. Imagine! I can’t wait.”
Yes, Liverpool are an English team, but they have a worldwide fanbase, particularly in the USA, and the club means just as much to our stateside brethren as it does to those of us lucky enough to be closer.
Geography means nothing – passion means everything. YNWA.