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Why I am a fan - the road to soccer fandom twists and turns

From World Cup watcher to “Eurosnob” to MLS.

Ball, credit Tim Heitman-USA Today Sports Tim Heitman-USA Today Sports

Welcome to the refreshed Angels on Parade! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to do the same, head over to the FanPosts to begin. We’re collecting all of the stories here. Come Fan With Us!

I grew up playing soccer as a kid, and I really enjoyed playing it, but I didn’t really become a fan of watching the game until the 2002 World Cup. There were a few reasons I latched onto that moment, the experience of getting up early to watch the games with my mom, the fun style of play many teams had, the fact that the US team had a deep run in that World Cup. It all came together in a way that caused me to seek out the game in non-World Cup years, and find other leagues to watch. I gravitated toward the Premier League, both because the the style of play was fun, but also because at that time it was the only major soccer league on TV consistently. I became a fan of Chelsea, and I started watching a lot of Premier League games as well as the Champions League, which was also easily found being on ESPN2 usually at the time.

My relationship with MLS has been an on and off one. I was aware of the league when I really started to get into watching soccer, but it just never stuck with me. I watched sometimes, but was never fully invested. You could even accuse me of being a “Eurosnob” (a derisive term MLS fans use for someone who only watches European soccer, and doesn’t like their local MLS team).

It’s not that I didn’t like or respect MLS, i just enjoyed the Premier League and the Champions League more, and they enjoyed most of my attention. It didn’t help that my local team, the San Jose Earthquakes, moved to Houston in 2006 and didn’t return for another couple of years, and was bad when the team eventually did re-form. I watched the new Earthquakes, and went to games sometimes, but my main allegiance was to Chelsea, and the Premier League.

Two games really made me go all in on MLS, both in 2015. I went to one of the first Earthquakes games at Avaya Stadium, the new stadium the Earthquakes opened up that year. The stadium was amazing, beautiful sightlines, nice seats, easy to get to, the largest outdoor bar in North America. Avaya has it all, and its a spectacular place to watch a game. I also sat in the supporters section for the first time ever, and it was really fun. I sat close to the San Jose Ultras, and their energy and passion enhanced the experience of the game for me. It was something different from any other sporting event I’d been to, and I’ve been to at least one game of every professional major sport in the US, as well as some college football and basketball games.

The other game was in New York, an NYCFC game vs D.C. United in NYCFC’s first season. I was going on vacation to New York, and saw that there would be a home NYCFC game when I was there, and I wanted to attend the game. It was great, the sightlines at our seats were very good, it was great seeing players like David Villa and Andrea Pirlo on the field, and it was a fun game. What struck me most though, was the atmosphere. Despite being a brand new team, NYCFC had a thriving supporters section, and the fan support, and the banter between D.C. United fans and NYCFC fans was very enjoyable to observe. These two games clinched it for me, I became a steady MLS follower, watching games, frequently reading articles about the league and its teams, listening to MLS podcasts, I was hooked.

I am very excited about Los Angeles Football Club joining MLS. I like how their ownership is thinking big, looking for big name players to bring in, investing in an academy, working with fans for ideas for the new stadium. I am intrigued by LAFC’s supporter groups that are forming. All the plans for the new stadium look great, and the colors/crest of LAFC are very appealing. I’m also excited for a new local rivalry to emerge with LAFC and the LA Galaxy. I will always have a special place in my heart for the Earthquakes, but I hope LAFC do well, and I hope that they are a great addition to MLS.

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