By Dan Wiersema / Founder, Free Beer Movement
The United States national team faces Fabio Capello's Russia in Krasnodar, just a stones throw from the Black Sea.
The USMNT previously thwarted Capello in the 2010 World Cup, stealing a draw from his England side, so he's an old foe.
The Russian squad, while mostly made of domestic-based players, sits in the ninth position of the FIFA rankings. Seven of the players called in play for Zenit St. Petersburg, Russian Premier League high fliers with two consecutive titles. The Russian also currently sit atop Group F in UEFA World Cup qualifying with a 4-0-0 record including four shutouts. Imperial dominance certainly.
This U.S. squad, led by Michael Bradley and Tim Howard and buoyed by the return of Jozy Altiore will have to put in a stout performance to survive this test.
For the fan you'll need an equally strong brew to accompany you while watching in the morning hours (10am EST).
The Free Beer Movement recommends North Coast Brewing Co.'s "Old Rasputin" Russian Imperial Stout (Fort Bragg, California). The brewery, while not quite close enough to see Russia from their house, has crafted a beer in the "tradition of 18th Century English brewers who supplied the court of Russia's Catherine the Great".
The brewery describes their stout as "a rich, intense brew with big complex flavors and a warming finish." All adjectives that the USMNT will have to possess as well against Russia. Particularly focusing on the complexity of the team will be the performances of young guns like Joe Gyau, Mix Diskerud, and Joshua Gatt. Will they (or Jozy, Boyd, or Gomez) have a warm finish in the cool Russian November?
Rasputin, a Russian Orthodox Monk, was closely allied with the tsar of old Russia, and his controversial influence is often cited as one of the reasons (among many others) for the end of royal rule and the beginning of the Soviet era in the early 1900s. The U.S. is winless (0-2-2) against Russia. Perhaps another Russian reign is over here as well?
Lastly, North Coast inscribed on each label, in Russian, the saying "A sincere friend is not born instantly", perhaps one more clue that coach Jurgen Klinsmann's reign, while not entirely convincing, has produced some successes to build upon and look positively towards the future.
Unless you're a hipster, you want to see soccer grow in America and what better way than the Free Beer Movement. Check it out and practice it.