It’s the 75th minute of Los Angeles Football Club’s first game at Banc of California Stadium, and something happened that made me genuinely cry from happiness.
Let me step back for a second. The game against the Seattle Sounders was an occasion LAFC fans knew would be special. But there was that fear of the unknown. Would the stadium really be full? It was. Would the stadium bring a fearsome atmosphere from day one? They did.
In talking to supporters after the game, those who were in The 3252 asked if their noise was brought around the stadium for the full match. It was, of course. What about the rest of the stadium? It came in fits and starts. Aside from the goal chant that was the blemish on an otherwise outstanding night, the south end of the stadium got loud when trying to drown out the Sounders supporters (they succeeded in that endeavor) or when LAFC had a scoring chance at their end.
But the moment that made me cry started in the 75th minute. The game was cagey, it really appeared like it was going to end 0-0. At that point, the whole stadium began to chant “L-A! F-C!” and wave the shiny black or gold papers they used in the opening stadium display like pom-poms.
This is what we had been waiting for, since 2014, for a team to have the full support of the stadium, as they rallied to put the team over the top. It sounds corny, but I really think the chants, which continued intermittently for the final 15 minutes, complete with the foil paper shining around the stadium, gave LAFC that last little push they needed to make magic with a late win.
And I cried a little, thinking about 22,000 Angelinos coming together, rallying for a brand-new soccer team, in their brand-new home, and breaking out into a spontaneous chant around the stadium. After the match, I spoke extensively to a member of The 3252 who was near the capos, and he said the LAFC chant around the stadium didn’t come from any coordination on the north end’s part. It was spontaneous, and it was lovely. It was a very emotional moment.
And then...the aforementioned moment of magic.
I didn’t cry when the goal went in, I was mostly amazed that I had managed to capture the goal on video. My jaw hung open. It was sublime.
The 3252 did a phenomenal job making an atmosphere for 90-plus minutes on Sunday. But when the rest of the stadium joined them, it became awesome. After years in the MLS fan wilderness, it was exactly the moment we were all waiting for.
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