Chanting, jumping, smoke bombs, drums, confetti… Talk about a culture shock! Ok, the confetti isn’t that big of a stretch for me.
Last night, I checked another item off my list. My husband and I attended an Orlando City Soccer Club match.
Let me say, I do not know the first thing about soccer, except that American’s are the only ones who call it soccer. I have never been to a match, never watched more than a couple of minutes on the TV, or even thought to look into the rules of the game. From what Ryan had told me before we left for Orlando, I only knew that it was going to be very rowdy and that there would be smoke bombs. Yeah…can you feel my nerves kicking in?!?!
Orlando’s team is not an MLS club, although there is a big push right now to get them in. Currently there is a tournament going on where all the clubs, MLS or not, play one another. Last night’s match put Orlando City SC against the Colorado Rapids. All I knew going into the night was that this was a BIG DEAL!
Now let me say this…Soccer fans are DEDICATED! I don’t think I have ever seen such strong team pride in any sport ever before. Sure, you have die-hard football fans that will fight it out in the stands over the game, but nothing like what I witnessed last night.
To start off, you don’t just get your ticket and walk in to your seats before game time. Apparently you arrive early and tailgate. This is followed by the group of ‘supporters’ gathering together to chant before marching into the stadium playing the drums, shooting off fireworks and still chanting!
After marching through the gates, you make your way up to the ‘supporter’s section’ behind the goal. This is a dedicated area for rowdiness! In this section, you do not sit down…EVER. You jump up and down while chanting things like, ‘You suck ass****’ when the opposing goalie throws the ball back into play. When something really good (or really bad) happens, you throw colored paper streamers out on the field. When your team scores, you jump higher, yell louder, high-five anyone within arm’s reach of you, and set off colorful smoke bombs. This is an intense section to sit in; but well worth it for a first time experience.
So last night, I witnessed all this madness for the first time with my husband. He has been to one other match before and it was the US team when they played down in Tampa last year. After that game, he has been dying to go to the local games. And it was a good match to attend. Orlando City SC beat the Colorado Rapids 3-1. The score should have been 5-1, but 2 goals didn’t count do to some sort of errors that I wont even begin to pretend to understand. What I do know is this; a red card is really bad. And a goalie getting a red card and being ejected from the game is really, REALLY bad. Both of these things happened last night. The Rapids goalie was given a red card and ejected after coming out of ‘his home’ (as I referred to it) and doing something, apparently not legal in the soccer world.
What is really amazing about last night is that it is the first in franchise history the club has beat an MLS club in the US Open Cup.
We had a great time and plan on going back to many more games!