By Evan Ream

The Cauldron fought for its team to stay in Kansas City. Dan Perlea/mlsroadtrip.com

“We dreamed of a day where people would want to do this, not just getting so drunk that we couldn’t help but do it.”

- Sean Dane, de-facto Kansas City Cauldron leader

This is a story about an organization embracing its fans, just as much as it is about the fans themselves.

In the world of professional sports, there are a lot of “poor decision makers” (to say it in the nicest way possible) who call the shots.

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By Evan Ream

The Empire Supporters Club treats supporting the Red Bulls like a job. Dan Perlea/mlsroadtrip.com

After 16 years of bad signings, atrocious marketing and general futility, the Empire Supporters Club will stop at nothing to give New York the best home field advantage possible.

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By Evan Ream

Toronto FC’s many supporters, including the Red Patch Boys on the left. Dan Perlea/mlsroadtrip.com

And on the eighth day, God said, “Let there be red…”

I wasn’t planning to do a story for the Red Patch Boys due to the fact that I was sitting in the adjacent U-Sector for the only Toronto FC home game on the trip. But when I met the fans, I (prepare for the double negative) decided that I couldn’t not do a story on them.

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By Evan Ream

The U-Sector doesn’t look particularly happy at a call on the field. Dan Perlea/mlsroadtrip.com

“I fell in love with football as I was later to fall in love with women: suddenly, inexplicably, uncritically, giving no thought to the pain or disruption it would bring with it.”

-Nick Hornby, Fever Pitch

It’s Wednesday night and Toronto FC, the worst team in the league, is playing Vancouver Whitecaps FC, a likely playoff team. Up 2-1, the fourth official announces that there will be four minutes of stoppage time. He is met with a chorus boos from U-Sector.

A harmless long ball is floated into the box from a Vancouver player. Toronto goalkeeper Milos Kocic will easily grab the ball, waste a few seconds and send it back into play; Kocic is an experienced goalkeeper, and this is an easy play.

The ball gets closer and closer and closer. Kocic jumps up, but out of nowhere, Whitecaps forward Darren Mattocks literally leaps over his defender and in front of Kocic, heading the ball into the empty net in an awe-inspiring feat of athleticism. Typical Toronto.

Mattocks sprints over to the supporters section and raises up both his hands and put them together, making a heart shape. Thirteen-dollar beers rain down on Mattocks who stands there, stoic, knowing that once again, the entire city of Toronto has been deflated because of their soccer team.

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By Evan Ream

A pair of Midnight Riders enjoying the pregame festivities. Dan Perlea/mlsroadtrip.com

Upon my entry to Massachusetts, I tweeted at the Midnight Riders, asking them for their tailgate information. Less than an hour later, I was given the tailgate information, asked if I needed to be shown around and invited to a morning pickup game.

After playing with them at Harvard and going to a bar in Cambridge to watch MLS with them on Saturday, I arrived at the tailgate two-and-a-half hours before game time on Sunday. There were already about 50 people there even though the bus that was bringing 45 additional fans from Boston had not arrived yet.

I was offered a large variety of food and beer that every single member of the Midnight Riders and the other support group, the Rebellion, seemed to have prepared. After being invited on a soccer podcast in front of a “live audience,” the bus full of fans finally showed up.

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By Evan Ream

Ultras Montreal being led by a capo during a losing effort. Dan Perlea/mlsroadtrip.com

In Quebec, the license plates read, “je me souviens”, or, “I remember.” Impact de Montreal fans remember that their group, Ultras Montreal 2002, was formed because of Toronto fans.

In 2001, Toronto brought a bus full of about 60 fans to Montreal for an A-League game (both teams were in the minor leagues at the time). There was no organized support from Montreal to oppose just 60 fans.

Fast forward 11 years, the Ultras Montreal have over 400 season ticket holders, with aspirations to sell out the entire west end one day.

As with any new team though, there are issues. Not everyone “gets it.”

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By Jake Coburn

Barra Brava is one of MLS’s oldest true supporters groups. Dan Perlea/mlsroadtrip.com

As far as supporters groups go, Barra Brava is one of the oldest groups and has been credited as the first real supporters group to bring in chants and different tifo to Major League Soccer.

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By Evan Ream

This corner of RFK Stadium features D.C. United’s premier tifo-making supporters group: the District Ultras. Dan Perlea/mlsroadtrip.com

It is the 77th minute of a D.C. United vs. Impact de Montreal game. It is over 100 degrees despite being slightly overcast. D.C. United is winning 2-0 in a thoroughly dominating performance.

All of a sudden, it starts to rain. Fans on the other side of the stadium head for the exit. But not on this side. Not the District Ultras. The rain only makes them sing louder:

“If I had the wings of an eagle

If I had the ass of a crow

I’d fly over Montreal

And shit on the bastards below

Shit on, shit on!

Shit on the bastards below!”

Srdan Bastaic, the president of the District Ultras, picks up a 30-foot high black, white and red flag and waves it three or four times before putting it down, almost hitting the VIP section in the process.

“Sounds like we’re losing 3-0,” says Bastaic in a Croatian accent.

“Well they did threaten to arrest the entire section,” responds another member of the group referring to the illegal smoke bombs that were lit after each goal. Read the rest of this entry »

By Jake Coburn

One of Section 8′s capos leading on the crowd. Dan Perlea/mlsroadtrip.com

With flags waving and people chanting “fire,” all of the groups meshed into one supporters section behind the goal at Toyota Park to take on Chicago’s rival, the Columbus Crew.

Since Section 8 is a mixture of Fire fans that may identify with a different name, their chants did not involve the name of their supporters group like we have seen in other cities. The chants were purely regarding the Chicago Fire and rooting for them to come out on top.

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By Jake Coburn

 

Chicago Fire supporters tailgating before their last match against the Columbus Crew. Dan Perlea/mlsroadtrip.com

Section 8 cannot be defined as one group or one identity, but rather, they are a melting pot of smaller groups and cultures that share one common thread: They bleed for the Chicago Fire.

“Section 8 is the umbrella organization,” said the Director of Communications Dan Martin, “no one can say what to do.”

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