Saturday, April 17, 2021, marked a bittersweet reunion for the LAFC Community. It resembled the historic opening day matches of the past, but there was something missing. By most accounts, this was a happy, celebratory day, the first time the Black & Gold were able to host fans at Banc of California Stadium in over a year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, be it in a limited capacity.
You may think the day was bittersweet because even though fans were back, instead of the 22,000 - raucous sellout spectacle, the stadium was reduced to only 4,900 strong due to COVID-19 precautions. It wasn’t that though. The 4,900 in attendance surely did their part.
“They did an unbelievable job today, making noise, cheering our game,” said LAFC forward Corey Baird, making his LAFC debut. “We love the energy that they are bringing.”
Despite that energy, it was still bittersweet not because the stadium was missing nearly 17,000 fans and supporters, but because the Banc was missing one - Mauricio “Mo” Fascio.
Mo, the Vice President of The 3252 Independent Supporters Union, lost his battle with COVID-19 on March 20, 2021. He was a constant presence in the North End. You could count on seeing him every matchday, bringing spirit and connection along with his radiant smile. It is not a stretch to say that Mo would have been right in the middle of the celebration of each of the Club’s two goals, and after the match making himself heard singing the Club’s post-match “Shalala’s”.
“How much he loved LAFC just came across every time we got a chance to be around him,” LAFC head coach Bob Bradley said. “The memory of him the locker room with some of the other supporters with the Supporter’s Shield – I always think back to that night, seeing him holding the Supporter’s Shield and that smile that showed how much LAFC meant to him. As a result, he meant an incredible amount to all of us.”
Mo had an unwavering commitment to the Club, football culture, and the Los Angeles community. Not only was Mo a mainstay at the Banc, but you could find him at LAFC community events, beach cleanups, and always volunteering and lending a hand along with his family and friends.
It is hard to even remember a time when Mo was not present at LAFC. He joined the District 9 Ultras Supporter Group and The 3252 in 2017, and was an instrumental part of the core leadership team that created one of the most electrifying live sports environments in the league. He was always there. Whether it was Bob Bradley’s introduction as LAFC’s first Coach in 2017 or partying in the locker room with the Supporters’ Shield in 2019, he was in the moment.
“It was a special day to have fans back in the stadium,” Bradley said. “But when we looked into the stands, we knew that there was a bittersweet part to it.”
Fascio wasn’t there, but Bradley was also keenly aware that there were others who were devastatingly affected by the pandemic in this horrible year.
“I've said a number of times that so many of our fans helped Los Angeles in this last year with the roles they played, the jobs they have.” Bradley said. “Sadly enough, some of the neighborhoods and some of the communities where our best fans come from, they were hit hard with the virus.”
Though Mo was not at this match himself, his legacy and presence could be seen and felt throughout the Banc. The symbolic pre-match tifo opened in a beautiful tribute of his massive likeness. All fans in attendance received a black “Forza Mo” armband to honor his memory. Every LAFC player could be seen with the armband too.
LAFC forward Danny Musovski, in his first game playing in front of fans at the Banc in just his second season in Black & Gold, immediately understood the significance of the moment.
“He meant a lot to a lot of people here and obviously this community cherishes him,” said Musovski. “I think it was good to get the win for Mo and we honored him with that arm badge.”
The LAFC community will never be the same, but it will continue to cement Mo’s legacy in everything it does. The Club will honor Mo and his memory throughout the 2021 season (and beyond) via community events and programming to support causes important to the Fascio family.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Mo’s wife Anna, his children Veronica and Ernesto, his grandchildren Brandon, Cailin, and Samantha, his father Guillermo, his brother Guillermo Jr., and his family and friends.