During Hispanic Heritage Month, we wanted to feature a few of our members who keep our chapters and organization running from coast to coast.
Pictured above: AOIE President Eddie Gutierrez with his daughter, Tilly.
President, AO Inland Empire
How’d you get into soccer in general, and eventually the U.S. national teams?
At age 11, my mom introduced me to the man who would eventually become my stepdad. He had played soccer his whole life and it was a major part of what made him the person he was. I was already a huge baseball and football fan, but he took a special interest in showing me how different soccer was and how its culture both on and off the pitch made it “the beautiful game” people know and love around the world. I was hooked instantly.
This all coincidently happened around the time of the September 11th terrorist attacks. With how awful those attacks were, the patriotism that rose from that rubble and spread across the nation had a huge impact on me. That October, with a newfound interest in soccer, I watched the US defeat Jamaica 2-1 and punch its ticket to the World Cup. I felt such pride and patriotism that day, and as they say, the rest is history.
What got you into AO, and when?
My first cap was Sept. 2nd, 2011. It was a friendly between the USA and Costa Rica in Carson, California. I went to that match with my brothers. Arriving early, we immediately noticed a bunch of U.S. fans tailgating and went to see all the ruckus. We had heard of “the Outlaws” and upon finally experiencing the atmosphere for ourselves, I knew at that moment that I was “home” and signed up on the spot.
You were at the Azteca for the 2017 World Cup qualifier versus Mexico. As a Mexican American, what was that experience like?
Indescribable. It almost feels like you’re going off to battle, outnumbered and in enemy territory. Upon arriving at the Azteca, dressed head to toe in U.S. gear, with a matching USA sombrero to boot, the locals started heckling this “traidor.” To their surprise, I responded in perfect Spanish, which broke the ice and set up friendly conversations and photo ops. At the end of the day, the battle ended in a draw. But that feeling we all shared when Michael Bradley scored that golazo will never be forgotten.
So that means you’re headed back for the next one in March, right?
The easy answer is this may be the last time we ever have THIS match, with qualification in ’26 secured, and who knows what World Cup qualification will look like after that. The REAL answer is I miss being on that battlefield, shoulder to shoulder with all my fellow Outlaws, in enemy turf, singing the “Star Spangled Banner” at the top of our lungs, ready to give them the business.
What does the AO family mean to you?
I’ve met people both near and far because of AO, with many of those friends having been promoted to family. I can safely say my whole life would be totally different without them. Our community is unlike anything in sport. The American Outlaws, what we stand for and our #AOFamily mean the world to me! C’mon you Yanks!