The Excitement of a Major League Soccer Game
We impose hometown pride onto sports teams because the only meaning sports have are the ones we impose on them. Otherwise, they’re without narrative. The team in turn adds a lot to strengthen a city’s identity – just look what it does for a lesser Los Angeles city like Anaheim, with their Angels and Ducks. But the Manhattan Beach Dodgers and San Pedro Lakers aren’t happening any time soon, so where does that leave the South Bay and its ability to consolidate around a team?
The short answer is we do have a team. Even though it’s not in the name, we have two teams we could reasonably call home teams, and they play in Carson at the increasingly vital StubHub Center. The thing is, it’s soccer: a wonderful game, but not a popular one in America. Many of you reading have probably never watched even half of a soccer game in years, let alone a full Major League Soccer show. So, in the interest of building up some local fervor, here are 5 reasons you should attend your first Major League Soccer game, right in our back yard, rooting for one of our guys.
1. Civic Pride
I started talking about this in the introduction, but it’s pretty clear that the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA are the closest we’ll get to having a South Bay team. They’re more ours than they are our cousins in the big city, and that’s reflected in how important economically they are to the region. By embracing these two as Teams South Bay, we also make them important culturally. Think of the New England Patriots, or the Golden State Warriors – broad locations in their name, but they clearly indicate a loyalty to Boston and the Bay Area.
2. The Crowd Is Worth The Price Alone
One of the more misguided critiques of soccer is that, with its low scoring and allowance of ties, it is not an exciting game. While I’ve come to find that’s not true, even if it were true, the live experience would be worth it just for the crowds. Soccer fans have a reputation for being rowdy and dedicated, and some even descend to hooligan status when they get reckless. In my experience, the StubHub center doesn’t get so frenzied as to be dangerous, just very very enthusiastic. If you’ve got the courage, try and sit in the north concourse – the designated hardcore fans section – to witness firsthand the pure, infectious joy. You’ll sing songs, link arms, and yell rude things at opposing teams.
3. Free Stuff
We all like not paying for things, right? While you might get a free XXL t-shirt during a pricey NBA playoffs game, you can often receive cool, free gifts at regular season LA Galaxy & Chivas USA games. It’s not every night, but during these fan appreciation events, you can expect to receive things like Chivas cantinas, Galaxy scarves, or ever-popular trucker hats. Even if you snag a ticket to a game that doesn’t feature hand outs, any Galaxy game that ends in a shut out (home team scores, away team held to 0) results in a coupon for free chicken redeemable at Pollos Campero.
4. Celebrity Sightings
With a few exceptions, South Bay isn’t the celebrity center that Hollywood is. Except here; any celebrity with a genuine interest in soccer is going to have to make the trek down to our turf. Kobe Bryant himself has been known to support his friend David Beckham, a mega star in his own right, but who knows if that will still be a constant with the latter’s retirement.
5. A Family-Centric Activity
Finally, a Major League Soccer game is a great way to spend a weekend as a family. As it turns out, MLS is a very family focused league. They take advantage of the large presence that soccer has in youth sports by stoking the flames of their fandom with frequent events and participation. Youth soccer kids walk out with players during the opening of games, for example, or some half time shows are turned into brief, makeshift games with kids running all across the field. They’re also highly active with local schools, often sponsoring reading challenges with tickets as prizes or holding youth activity camps.
Go check out all the excitement of a major league soccer game for yourself!
StubHub Center – (310) 630-2000
18400 S Avalon Blvd, Carson, 90746