Can't make it to Toronto for the Final? Show your support by joining your fellow ECS at one of our official viewing events hosted all over the country and around the Puget Sound. Below you'll find a list of linked viewing events by state, city and subgroup where you can watch our boys take the final step towards eternal glory.
Seattle (Pioneer Square) - OFFICIAL ECS VIEWING
Fuel Sports Beats & Eats
164 S. Washington Street
Seattle, WA 98104
Seattle (Capitol Hill) - PRIDE OF THE SOUND
Modera Capitol Hill
1427 11th Avenue
Seattle, Washington 98122
Bellingham - 542 BRIGADE
208 W Holly St
Bellingham, Washington 98225
University Place - ARMED SERVICES GROUP & 253 DEFIANCE
The Ale House Pub and Eatery
2122 Mildred St W
University Place, Washington 98466
Renton - BARRA FUERZA VERDE
The Berliner Pub
221 Main Ave S
Renton, Washington 98057
Olympia - BLACK HILLS MILITIA
Three Magnets Brewing Co.
600 Franklin St SE, Ste 105
Olympia, Washington 98501
Silverdale - WEST SOUND ARMADA
Cash Brewing Co
3388 NW Byron St
Silverdale WA 97383
Kennewick - DRY SIDE SUPPORTERS
Uncle Sam's Saloon
8378 W Gage Blvd
Kennewick, WA 99336
Spokane - DRY SIDE SUPPORTERS
1414 N Hamilton St
Spokane, WA 99202
Boise - DRY SIDE SUPPORTERS
1513 N. 13th St.
Boise, ID 83702
Portland - ANCHOR-N-ROSE 48S
1340 SE 12th Ave
Portland, Oregon 97214
Tigard - ANCHOR-N-ROSE 48S
13727 SW Pacific Hwy
Tigard, OR 97223
Bend - ANCHOR-N-ROSE 48S
Pour House Pub
1085 SE 3rd St.
Bend, OR 97702
Mountain View - FOG CITY FAITHFUL
223 Castro St
Mountain View, California 94041
San Francisco - FOG CITY FAITHFUL
668 Haight St
San Francisco, California 94117
Costa Mesa - SOCAL SOUND
55 Tavern and Bowl
1875 Newport Blvd
Costa Mesa, CA
Long Beach - SOCAL SOUND
Shannons on Pine
209 Pine Ave
Long Beach, CA
Los Angeles - SOCAL SOUND
The Fox and Hounds
11100 Ventura Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 91604-3133
San Diego - SOCAL SOUND
The Brew Project - 4pm - Family Friendly || SSFC Shot Specials!
3683 Fifth Ave
San Diego, CA
Omaha - HEARTLAND HORDE
2102 S. 67th Street
Omaha, NE 68106
Tulsa - HEARTLAND HORDE
Elgin Park Brew Pub
325 East M.B. Brady
Tulsa, OK 74120
Plattsville - HEARTLAND HORDE
Steve's Pizza Palace, Inc.
175 W Main St
Platteville, Wisconsin 53818
Cleveland - HEARTLAND HORDE
Merry Arts Pub & Grill
15607 Detroit Ave
Lakewood, Ohio 44107
Ruston - BOURBON SQUAD / HEARTLAND HORDE
Roma’s Italian Bistro
102 N Monroe St
Ruston, Louisiana 71270
New York City - SEATTLE SOUNDERS EAST
1254 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10028
Boston - SEATTLE SOUNDERS EAST
The Field Pub
20 Prospect St
Cambridge, MA 02139 District of Columbia
SEATTLE SOUNDERS EAST
Lou's City Bar
1400 Irving St NW
Washington, District of Columbia 20010
To start a fire, you need a spark, something to burn, and oxygen. Back in August, our boys had no room to breathe. The club was suffocating and the fire our season nearly went out. All that was left was smoke. Then the Summer Transfer Window opened, and near the end of that window, the Sounders secured Nico Lodeiro’s services. Then, Román Torres returned from his season ending injury the year before. Suddenly, the weak flame of our 2016 campaign had gotten a bit of oxygen, and it grew. Match after match, week after week, the dying embers of the season were stoked to life again. We finished the season in a respectable fourth position in the Western Conference.
We got to the playoffs and the knockout round versus Kansas City by keeping that fire burning. The funny thing about keeping a fire going is if you give up, all your work is lost and you have to start all over in building it. Our boys fought to the bitter end of that match and were rewarded, and our small flame started to grow. Next, we had the Supporter Shield winners from Dallas. Our boys, still rolling from the knockout round, made quick work of the league leaders at home, and held the line away to move on.
The fire is raging, but it’s consumed everyone in its path so far. It requires us to march on. It requires fuel and oxygen. Let our voice be that oxygen and let Colorado be that fuel. It’s time to feed the fire.
To be the Phoenix who has risen from the ashes, you must first have been among the ashes. The first half of this season, we were in the trash heap. In August, we were in ninth place in the Western Conference. Everyone said we were done, finished. Until we weren’t. We began to rise. We said goodbye to Sigi, entered the second Schmetzer era of our club’s history, and signed Lodeiro, Morris found his left foot, Torres returned, and everything came together. We were born anew. It was inspiring to experience. Mid-September, it started looking like Playoffs were a real possibility and our concept team started kicking around ideas for a playoff choreo and eventually decided on the Phoenix display we deployed today.
What can be said about Zach Scott that hasn’t been said in his career? The epitome of what it means to be a Sounder. 15 years for our boys in famous green. No other club but that of Seattle. From Gonzaga to USL to MLS, Zach has sacrificed blood, sweat, and well, we can’t say tears because legend has it, a single tear from his eye would cause mass flooding across the globe.
We’ve sung about Sounders Legends in the past, but Zach is in his own category. 349 appearances for the club. He is always proving the naysayers wrong. Quiet off the field, always deflecting any praise sent to him back to his teammates and coaching staff. He doesn’t want the limelight, he wants to compete, do his job, and secure glory for this club.
Upon hearing rumors of Zach’s retirement, we immediately decided we had to honor him with one more display. ECS has paid tribute to Mr Sounder twice before (Hang 10 and 300 matches). This time, simply a thank you for years of dedication to our club.
One club men are extremely rare. Nearly unheard of in modern sports. We're going to miss Zach's hard nosed, take no prisoners style of play in years to come. But he is family. He is Ohana. He will always be a Sounder.
We look forward to seeing each and every one of you at the Zach Scott Testimonial on Wednesday, March 1, 2017. Tickets are on sale now, starting at $10.20.
Tickets for the Zach Scott Testimonial on March 1st, 2017 will be available on Monday, October 24th at 9am. Tickets will be sold via Brown Paper Tickets at zachscotttestimonial.brownpapertickets.com.
Tickets start at $10.20 (a nod to Zach’s MLS jersey number) for the upper grandstands and $20 for the lower grandstand. Current (2016 or 2017) members of the Emerald City Supporters will have exclusive access to South Grandstand Lower level tickets via an access code provided in the forum. A premium field level standing area behind the East goal will be available for $50 and includes non-alcoholic beverages and snacks.
In order to ensure all fans and supporters are able to attend this event, and because of our belief in soccer for all, we’ve kept ticket prices very low. All proceeds from the match will be disbursed at the request of Zach Scott and his family. If you’d like to make an additional financial contribution, you can change the price of your tickets when purchasing. If you’re unable to attend but would like to donate to the cause, you can do so HERE.
For more information about the testimonial, check out the announcement from September 15.
The story of today's choreo begins with the 5/24/2014 away trip to BC Place. Looking out at the skyline from our bus on the way home, we noticed a resemblance between the sinister silhouette of BC Place's masts and the thorny crown of the Night King from Game of Thrones. As we talked about the idea, we realized that the analogy was a great fit: our city, our club, and our boys are the final point of defense against against an old, white-clad threat from across our Northern border, and we are Sounders 'till we die, just as a crow's watch ends only at death.
We designed the concrete aspects of the image to support this conceptual foundation: supporters at the top of the wall along with the text "We Are the Watchers On the Wall", to emphasize our connection with and commitment to our boys on the pitch, and a Sounders ranger of the Night's Watch defeating the BC-Place-throned monster as a representation of our boys defeating our northern Cascadian foe.
Of course, the value of an idea lies in using it, and we had great work from our volunteers, starting with the excellent (and challenging!) artwork created by our designer, to the work done by our team to sew, draw, and paint the banners, and finally from our 30-person deployment team.
Tifo projects such as this are supported by the sale of our membership kits and by donations.
Zach Scott has embodied the spirit of the Seattle Sounders for a decade and a half. He’s never been the most talented or highest paid player on the roster, but his seemingly tireless effort and commitment to doing whatever the team needs has earned him a permanent spot in the hearts of fans, supporters and even his fellow players. In an era and league where players regularly move between teams, Zach has bled Rave Green (and some blue and white, too) his entire career. With 348 (and counting!) appearances for the Seattle Sounders over his 15 year career, we have many memories of Zach making crunching tackles or scoring critical goals. With that in mind, let’s all join together to make one more grand memory for Mr. Sounder, Zach Scott.
As there are not enough words to express our admiration, respect, and thanks for Zach’s time with the club, we’ve decided to take a different approach as he hangs up his boots from his playing career.
For the first time in our history, the Emerald City Supporters have teamed up with the Seattle Sounders to host a testimonial match for Zach on March 1, 2017 at Memorial Stadium. Tickets will start at $10.20 and will be available for sale on October 24, 2016. More information on ticket availability and other details will be published on weareecs.com or our social media channels in the near future.
It's true. Saturday's match in San Jose is an important one when it comes to the Sounders' chances of making the playoffs this season. Just a couple months ago, the basement of the standings was more of a good bet for us.
Since then, we've had a bunch of ups and a couple of downs. Mostly ups, thankfully. Our newest designated player, Nico Lodeiro, was named player of the month for August. The boys beat Portland at home. Román Torres is back. However, Clint Dempsey is on the shelf with a heart condition, and the boys dropped points in Portland two weeks ago.
It's safe to say that a rested team with the bulk of its firepower back in action shows promise, though. It's also safe to say that the group of travelers heading to San Jose don't need a massive bar or a Shirt Free Zone to be tempted into going to a soccer match. They're there for one thing - to support the Sounders.
For the Quakes, this match is just as critical. While they currently hold the sixth and final playoff spot in the West, they stand just one point ahead of Seattle after 26 matches played. Both clubs will be looking to gain ground on (or catch up to) Vancouver and Portland, who have played 28 matches to date, as the regular season comes to a close.
Forget what the "experts" say for a moment. Forget what the Sounders looked like two or three months ago. Focus on the here and now, the fact that the club has turned a major corner since Brian Schmetzer took the helm, and the fact that we still don't care about the Heritage Cup, but will gladly take it away from San Jose.
On Saturday evening, you could be in San Jose, might have footgolf-worn feet, or a belly full of tacos from the BarraQ you just attended, but one thing will be for certain. You'll be supporting the boys from wherever you stand, sit or recline (we heard you ate too many tacos!). Do what you do best, ECS, wherever you are.
Up the Sounders!
Up the ECS!
This heated derby was here long before MLS came to Cascadia. It was here long before they attempted to copyright The Cup out from under the supporter groups who started it. And, it was here long before it's "media partners" hyped it and packaged it for voyeuristic consumption.
This league continues its attempts to push the false hype, and to monetize it in any way it can. What used to be two fierce meetings per year - one home and one away - has now turned into 3 or 5 clashes within 6 weeks, across all competitions. And with those extra meetings comes higher and higher ticket prices, more and more travel costs for fans, and bigger and bigger demands for supporter groups to perform for the cameras.
So, to those demands, we say, click here.
Because you see, this derby isn't about the onlookers, the cameras, or league marketers.
Because you see, for the Emerald City Supporters, this derby is about the players who wear our Club's crest and who play for the pride of their supporters.
Because you see, beyond still being an internet meme 30 years later, Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" is a love song. It is an anthem of deep commitment and devotion. The lyrics speak to the same themes that every supporter from around the world sings to his or her club.
So, just like the derby itself, we are taking back this love song and giving it directly to our players:
Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down
Never gonna run around and desert you
Never gonna make you cry, never gonna say goodbye
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you
This derby is one of the few authentic things in this manufactured league. And it is so only because of a handful of players, coaches, front office executives, and fans who get it and who have guarded it.
And long may it live. Up the Sounders. Up the ECS.
Up the Sounders. Up the ECS.
Since its creation in 2012 after the first ECS FC Adult Academy, Pub League has consisted of four teams of beginner soccer players. After all these years, Pub League has grown into a league that cannot support the number of players that wish to play. The skill level of these players has also been steadily increasing. With both of these in mind, Pub League is proud to announce Pub League Premier! With the creation of Premier, Pub League will be adding four higher level teams to our league structure.
Premier is being designed for our players that have proven to be either too skilled, too fit, or too competitive for regular Pub League. This league will also welcome back former players that originally had been removed from the league because of these issues. This league will consist of four teams and will play nine weeks and Playoffs in the time slot before Pub League.
Pub League, on the other hand, is now being directed at the novice/beginner players ONLY as a way to learn the game, increase skill, and have fun playing soccer with other supporters. We ask anyone that is of a higher skill level than novice, or has a high fitness level, to please consider playing in Premier and allowing the new players to join this lower division.
The Signup process will happen over two days with Pub League being put up in the ECS Store on Friday 8/19/16 at 8PM and Premier going up on Saturday 8/20/16 at 8PM. The cost will be $80 for non-ECS Members and $70 for paid ECS Members.
The Combine and Drunken Draft will take place the following week. Time and Place TBA.
Premier will have eight player coaches that will compete in the drunken draft to craft the best team that they are able to. While Pub League will have the four teams crafted by the four managers, the managers will be randomly placed on a team to help avoid any stacking of teams. If you would like to volunteer as a Player-coach for Premier, or a referee for either league or a manager for Pub League please let Pub League management know. For future announcements please follow the ECS FC Pub League Facebook page. Kyle Anderson Executive Director of Pub League Overlord Relations
Kyle Anderson Executive Director of Pub League Overlord Relations
Executive Director of Pub League Overlord Relations
It's that time again! Lace up those shoes, dig out your best golf clothes, find your lucky ball, and get on out to Jefferson Golf Links for the 3rd annual ECS FC Footgolf Open!
This year's event will be held on Sept 10th with a 4:00 PM shotgun start time. The open will be hosted this year at Jefferson Park Golf Course on Beacon Hill. All proceeds will benefit Emerald City Supporters FC, the amateur soccer club of the Emerald City Supporters! Proceeds will help to purchase equipment, field time, and uniforms and will also support hosting of the 2017 Supporters' Cup matches between ECS FC and Timbers Army FC at Starfire. Just like last year,
Just like last year, entry fee for the ECS FC Footgolf Open will be $30 per player. The tournament will consist of a beginners division and competitive division, and is open to everyone of all ages. Bring your family and friends, and don't worry about playing ability! Children under 10 years old play FREE with a paid playing adult accompanying them.
New to Footgolf? Check this out.
In seeing today’s news that the club parted ways with Sigi Schmid, our only coach in the MLS era, our collective feelings are a mixture of optimism and nostalgia. Sigi’s legacy here will always be how he turned an expansion team into a permanent, above-typical power in MLS, under the pressure of demanding Sounders supporters. It’s no secret the Sounders have been an ambitious club propped up and supported both home and away by a very ambitious fan base. During his tenure here in Seattle, Sigi had managed to live up to those expectations, however.
Sure, the news of Sigi’s departure is still fresh off the presses, but one cannot avoid thinking of the amazingly positive and good times we have had with him at the helm. We always can point to the 2014 Supporters’ Shield, four USOC trophies, Cascadia Cups and multiple winning seasons. Don’t forget some of the smaller, yet important achievements and records broken in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Remember vividly when Sigi, in an interview, claimed that the Cascadia Cup belonged to the fans. This was at the same time that MLS was trying to pry it from the hands of supporters that were the very same ones that created the Cup. Sigi understood it. Sigi understood supporter culture and made sure the players that played for him understood it as well. We should never forget that.
Remember the post-match interview after the thrashing of our rivals to the South. In this match we had made an inspirational tifo that is still regarded as one of the all-time best in MLS. Sigi’s emotional press conference after that match showed just how much he wanted to bring the MLS Cup to Seattle. After all, in his own words, coaching the Sounders was a dream come true. Soccer in Seattle is the way all “old school” soccer folks always dreamed it would be.
We salute you, Sigi, for your love of this team and its fans.
This move from our club is also a courageous one. There are all sorts of theories about how dangerous a mid-season coaching change can be in MLS, when it comes to the fate of the season. We are pleased to see the team recognize the challenges of this season and be willing to make a change. Whether you agree with it or not, this was a pivotal move for the club, bringing in a new era. Let’s embrace this change with optimism, because we always believe that the best days for our beloved club are ahead of us.
We don’t just sing songs for anyone. We don’t just do tifo for anyone. We express our utmost gratitude towards a coach that has allowed ECS and fellow supporters to share amazing memories with each other, home or away. The foundation of soccer culture that was laid here in Seattle owes much to Sigi’s winning ways. It will serve our club for decades to come as it pushes to become a top echelon club in the world.
Thank you, Sigi.
Everyone reading this for one last time, join us in bidding farewell to the Sounders coaching legend: Sigi Sigi Sigi, Oi! Oi! Oi!
Up the Sounders, Up the ECS.
ECS Past President
Let's thank Sigi in person
On Thursday, July 28, we're going to gather together where it all started, Fuel Sports Bar, to celebrate our time with Sigi Schmid leading our beloved club on the field. Please join ECS in thanking Sigi, in person, starting at 6PM.
You can RSVP here for the event. Bring your memories, handshakes, and well-wishes this Thursday night, they'll be appreciated. If you're looking for an opportunity to take anyone to task, this isn't the time to do so. We look forward to seeing you there.
Heather Satterberg & Tom Biro
What a weird week so far.
Saturday featured an extremely annoyed captain Brad Evans taking his teammates to task both on and off the field. Tuesday featured a monster performance from goalkeeper Tyler Miller to push the Sounders one more round forward in this year's US Open Cup.
So now, the boys travel to Toronto to face a depleted squad that will be without Michael Bradley, Will Johnson, Jozy Altidore and Clint Irwin. Will we see a pissed off, motivated club reeling from a home loss or more of the same? Do the captain's words take hold on the players and make this past week the "moment" from which the season rebounds? We'll know on Saturday evening.
As supporters, we find ourselves in a constant state of anguish and ecstasy, and this week is a perfect example of what that feels like. Chants of "we're gonna win the US Open Cup" fill the stands after a victory just as often as our opinions about Frank Lampard's limbs did on Saturday. That's why it was almost perfect that "Pride" was the theme of Saturday's match, result aside. Win or lose, we do what we do for the pride we have in our club, each other, and our fair city.
We'll express that pride again this weekend, as 33 travelers make their way to BMO Field to support the Sounders. As many others will at Hellbent, the Jolly Roger, Danny Coyle's, the Berliner and dozens of other pubs to watch the on Saturday.
We take this seriously, win or lose. It's what we do. Let's bring three points home this weekend.
The Emerald City Supporters will not be supporting the “Friendly” on Tuesday, July 5th. All game day operations divisions including tifo crews, capos, drummers, and security personnel have the day off. There will be no color posted, no capo stands installed, and no amplification provided.
The ECS organization is itself a season ticket holder, and we make 50 tickets available for purchase to our members for each home match. As an organization, we have elected to donate those 50 tickets to the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County.
This is not a protest. The Emerald City Supporters have always been vocal about our disapproval of friendlies during an already congested schedule. Since the club insists on fielding a squad, we hope these donated tickets may inspire a youngster in the Brougham End to become our next DeAndre Yedlin.
Saturday’s Pride display “Emerald City, We are Here” comes at a time when many in the LGBT community feel afraid. Reeling from a recent event in Orlando, many of us feel that it’s time to hide away. Not so, says the ECS. We are here! From the stands in upper 122 holding up cards to make the pride flag, we see support. From the stands in the lower 122 flying the rainbow ECS crest, we know that ECS signals its love for the LGBT community. Throughout 121 and 123, our family raises rainbow scarves to show their team their love. Somewhere, over the rainbow, we’ve found our home. After all, don’t all Friends of Dorothy want to be in the Emerald City?
It also sends a message to the team. We are here. It has been a tumultuous season, and it’s time to turn our luck around. The Copa America Centenario break is over. We sing for you, you fight for us. It sends a message to the opposing team, that we are here. You will hear us as you play. The home field advantage is a force to be reckoned with, in our Royal Brougham Pitch.
This Pride display joins the Sounders Pride display on the field, showing that ECS approves of the inclusion of LGBT support. We are a unified club, team and supporters, ready to take on the challenges of the second-half of this year.
If you are LGBT, questioning, or never feel like you belong, know that there is room under the ECS crest for you. As we scream together, we energize our team, and change the conditions on the pitch for our boys.
Tifo production will be up and running starting on Monday, June 20th and painting will continue through Thursday, June 23rd. If you want to help with our next project, you'll need to sign up before Sunday, June 19. Details can be found here on the forums.
Onward to (the other) Washington we march, ECS!
Wednesday, we find our club at RFK stadium for our only regular season meeting with D.C. United. While we showed support for the D.C. supporters plight earlier this year, during this match our passion will be for the our crest alone.
Recently, our group has talked about and demonstrated its pride for our club and now, I want to challenge you to something for this away match. SING!!!!
If you are traveling to D.C., you will be heard. I have no doubts about this. I invite those not able to join with us to find another supporter or 50 and sing throughout this match. This means you, crew at Kraken Congee! Create an away section wherever you are. Make your viewing party feel like a bus trip before the keg has been finished and the videos start to be Tweeted. Our songs and chants are the pride and sweat of many and they shall be sung by our many voices.
We know that our boys can hear our support and that they can feel our unwavering commitment to them. So gather with your pogo neighbors whether at home or wherever ECS gathers and sing our songs. While we may all not originally be Seattle's Own, we are all ECS and we will be heard.
So sing up ECS!
On Monday, Seattle Sounders FC announced it was “teaming-up” with its corporate partner Delta Air Lines to “unite Seattle and celebrate Delta's support of the city through one of soccer's most storied traditions - a tifo display.” Misuse of grammar aside, let’s make one thing crystal clear. Corporate “tifo” isn’t what tifo is about.
For decades, supporters across the world have designed, drawn and painted these massive public displays of affection (or anger) across the globe. They give time, money, space, tools and energy to do so. Why? Because they love their clubs. Even when groups have something negative to say, it’s because they love their clubs.
In our opinion, tifo should never involve money from a club's FO nor its corporate sponsors, regardless of it carrying any corporate branding or not.
We know that displays have been made by various supporter groups with the help of (if not complete funding from) clubs and other corporate entities. Emerald City Supporters does not, and will not, ever accept money to create a display or execute one on behalf of a third party. We have received multiple offers to do so in various capacities, and have politely declined all of them. Okay, some were less politely declined than others, but we have declined them nonetheless.
Finally, while the sentiment of “uniting” fans in Seattle is one that we can get behind – whether you’re an ECS member or not – we don’t believe in doing so under the guise of a corporation and calling it “tifo” the way that Delta and the Seattle Sounders are doing so here. It’s not an “activation.” Ever.
Summer is around the corner, and what better way to enjoy the gorgeous summers in Seattle than to join in and help create tifo! Summer sessions will be coming up soon, and we’ve written a post including a volunteer sign up sheet on the forums.
Also, please remember to follow @ECSTifo for latest information regarding our production sessions.
In the 1980’s, Hooliganism was rampant throughout the English Football leagues, so much so that it was called the English disease. It was part of what instituted CCTV, which is now easily visible across the country.
It was a dark time in football’s history, one that led to sweeping changes to the way the English now watch their beloved game. Terraces were removed, standing became a punishable offense, and ticket prices skyrocketed. The working class English supporter was eventually pushed out, and the English football atmosphere now resembles little of its former self. However, before and during this period, English football supporters were one of, if not the most, revered supporters in the world for what they did inside the stadiums on match day.
Many of their songs and less nefarious traditions have since spread across the world, including to the streets of our beloved Seattle. What matters here when looking back at those supporters is their ability to come together as individuals and turn a quiet soggy football pitch into a cacophony of sound as they passionately pushed their clubs to stratospheric heights was something to be appreciated. Those supporters of the 70’s and 80’s left an indelible mark (both positively and negatively) on the way people support their football clubs across the world in a number of ways, and it’s important to remember where match day support WAS in England, and how it got to where it stands (or sits, really) today.
Fast forward a couple decades with me.
The Emerald City supporters arrive on the scene (that's you). ECS brings a blend of football culture from around the world, including songs and traditions from clubs like Dortmund, Millwall, and Panathinaikos to the stadium on match day. Those songs and traditions, along with the infusion of its own American style, makes headlines in 2009 as the Seattle Sounders smash through attendance records and expectations…but the story that's told about the Emerald City Supporters isn’t exactly complete. The groundwork for what ECS does was built from the early days of MLS. Supporter groups started popping up in the old soccer mom-friendly MLS.
Even so, groups in Chicago and DC sang songs, displayed choreos, lit flares and smoke bombs to celebrate. ECS, in some small part, was built on the backs of these early adopters of supporter culture in the United States. As groups from cities such as Toronto, Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, Philadelphia, New York, Orlando, Montreal, and LA grew and shaped themselves into the groups we see today, the MLS has flourished.
The league continues to expand, players never thought obtainable are coming into the league, and attendance continues to grow. Long gone are the soccer mom marketing plans. MLS ads are now heavily inundated with visions and language straight from supporter culture. Impenetrable walls of flags dance in slow motion, drummers are seen beating their tools of the trade, and plumes of colored smoke are seen wafting into the night sky. This is how MLS sells its brand. WE are how MLS continues to grow. YOU are the reason this league and your club continue to become destination points for top tier talent all over the world.
Over the last few seasons we’ve begun to see a change from MLS, though. We saw the “code of conduct” class policy instituted. We’ve seen an uptick in bans, fines, and sanctions against groups and individuals often with little or no evidence and even less recourse for appeal. Supporter groups aren’t without their faults in this country, but compared to other countries, MLS supporters tend to be pretty well-behaved. Many groups appreciate that if they do the crime, they pay the fine despite there really aren’t 100% clear rules and regulation available in every instance. The league still has zero away support protocols, and security theater is the hottest show in town.
Which brings me to the point.
Recently, the DC United Supporter groups had a march to the stadium to help unify the various groups. Over the years, they’ve had their differences and in an act to reunify for the support of their club, they decided to “bury the hatchet,” so to speak.
They marched, they sang, and they popped smoke as they have before on their way TO the stadium. MLS has since brought sanctions on the District Ultras (1 of the 4 groups involved) and banned another prominent member of the District Ultras for 1 calendar year FROM ALL MLS SOCCER MATCHES. They claim the individual’s act was a crime though no charges have been brought up against the individual by the DC Police Department and the District Ultras are also claiming that the device falls within the laws of Washington, D.C. According to our understanding, this was this individual’s 1st MLS offense.
We understand MLS’ fear of the hooliganism of the 1980’s. We understand the desire to keep all fans safe. We fear MLS is hurting the culture and the league they claim to care so much about by treating supporters the way they do. ECS has worked very closely with the Sounders’ FO to allow our supporters to enjoy all the great things being a supporter comes with. While we may not always come to an agreement on how we do things, the Sounders’ FO has always kept an open dialogue with us which is why we rarely have found ourselves in situations like this. We appreciate the Sounders for continuing to keep the working relationship we have, and we hope MLS can look to the Sounders as they have in the past for guidance on how to better communicate with their more passionate fans.
ECS does not support violence or criminal activity in any form, but we also request that individuals and groups be provided evidence of their crime as well as be justly punished. Everyone deserves fair treatment regardless of their offense. MLS routinely markets its brand with images of supporters just like this individual in DC popping smoke and flares. Acts they claim to be against their code of conduct and to be illegal. Their own employee Rachel Bonnetta (who has since left MLS) was proudly displayed popping smoke with OCSC supporters from the MLS’ own YouTube account.
It is hypocritical of the MLS to use the supporters of this league for advertisements and then ban and sanction them for the exact same actions they use in those marketing efforts. Furthermore, a system that does not provide evidence to these individuals / groups of their “crimes” while punishing them is unacceptable. There is a double standard in MLS and it cannot continue.
Historically, ECS has taken a very hands-off approach in dealing with supporter groups from around the league. We do everything we can to not distract our supporters from supporting our club. That said, given the way ECS and its members were treated by the league last season, as well as our understanding that eventually our members could very well be in the same situation as the District Ultras, we have decided to stand with the them, as many other supporter groups have over this past week.
We find the way MLS is treating the supporter groups that have built and funded this league for 20 years to be completely unacceptable. If a crime has been committed, then let the authorities deal with it. We find the double standard MLS shows by marketing individuals and then banning them for the same actions unacceptable. We find the system in which supporters are punished unacceptable. Supporters helped build this league. They deserve more respect, appreciation, and communication then the current MLS management gives them, especially considering their long-term viability has a significant dependence on the environments that we, the suppoorters, help create on matchday.
We, the supporters of the MLS and American soccer are not hooligans and we should not be treated as such.
We stand united with DC.
(NOTE: We're continuing the conversation here)