“Dale, Dale, Dale, Black and Gold. Dale, Dale, Dale, Black and Gold”
The chant cut through the broadcast Saturday night. And I had to do a double take. I was in fact on the couch in my living room, and not my seat in the press box at Banc of California Stadium.
It’s not often you’re aware of the opposing team’s supporters during a match in stadium, let alone via the TV broadcast. But even with the match’s play-by-play, their voices hovered above the usual chatter as LAFC faced the Earthquakes.
When the cameras finally panned over to the upper reaches of San Jose’s Avaya Stadium, you finally got the full effect. Some 450 LAFC Supporters clad in black and gold had made the trip to San Jose.
From the first match in Club history, when over 500 Supporters seated near the rafters of Seattle’s CenturyLink Field announced their presence to MLS, there’s been one goal of LAFC’s 3252: make every stadium in MLS feel like LAFC’s home away from home.
And so far, the results speak for themselves.
The Club took 12 points from six away matches to start the season, the most of any MLS team with six-consecutive road matches or more. And through 14 matches, LAFC’s five away wins are the most in MLS.
After Seattle, a trip to Carson. Bus after bus caravanned over 800 Supporters from the heart of Los Angeles down the 110 freeway. Marching from a parking lot on the outskirts of StubHub Center into a near empty stadium, they ignited an atmosphere with just their voices. The in-stadium entertainment drowned out hours before kickoff. A derby was born before the opening whistle.
In Portland, seated in the far reaches of a stadium once again, the Black & Gold Supporters made such an impression that many of the Timbers faithful took to social media to dub them the loudest away contingent they’d ever heard in their stadium - even louder than their bitter rivals from Seattle and Vancouver. From that day forward a mutual respect forged between LAFC Supporters and the Timbers Army.
Incredible few days. @TimbersFC2 @TimbersFC and @ThornsFC win. Great support from fans at Providence Park and viewing the away game. Hats off to the @LAFC supporters. Might have been the loudest traveling fans ever to come here... and they didn’t have to use a megaphone...— Timber Joey Webber (@TimberJoey) May 20, 2018
While critics of the LAFC's away support are quick to rehash the score lines in Carson and Portland. It only helps to prove the point the 3252 has been making all along. Win, lose, or draw, they’ll support their Club to the end.
And now, San Jose’s trip becomes just another chapter in many away days.
A comeback engineered in the 90th minute and delivered off the boot of a rookie in the 97th minute. Three points stolen, and a fitting reward for the lengths Supporters have gone to recreate a piece of Banc of California Stadium’s atmosphere in unfamiliar territory.
Afterwards, the man with the match-winner paid fitting tribute to the 450 Supporters that refused to give up in San Jose.
“It’s amazing. I mean they’re the best fans I’ve ever seen,” said defender João Moutinho on the pitch after the match. “Just look at this, we’re playing an away game with so many people here.
“I thought we were at home.”