The experience of an RSL fan exiled to Los Angeles

A true test of fanhood in any sport is what happens to your allegiances once you change cities. For me, I left Salt Lake in at the beginning of 2008 and started life in Los Angeles due to a job transfer. However, I have maintained my faith in the Claret and Cobalt and it seems to have worked; Real Salt Lake has made the playoffs every year that I’ve been in LA. Obviously, there’s no correlation, but it’s still nice to point that out.

This does make following the team a bit of a challenge. Local media follows the Galaxy (and to a lesser extent Chivas USA) so I’ve tried to do my best to follow the team through web coverage. However, twice a year I go to the Home Depot Center to watch RSL play in person. Since moving out here, I have not missed a single RSL game when they’ve played in the HDC, including the playoff game against the Goats in 2008. This one would not be any different.

After the jump, my latest experience attending a RSL game on the road. 

Getting tickets has never been an issue. This time, my wife’s coworker’s boyfriend is a Chivas USA season ticket holder and the RSL game was one of their ticket exchange games, so he exchanged some of his tickets and together we went. After stopping off at Café Rio for a pregame dinner (yes, we’re in LA and not Salt Lake, I realize that) off we went to the Home Depot Center. Half of us were cheering for RSL, half of us were cheering for Chivas USA. Our seats were in the north goal end (Nick Rimando was in the net closest to us in the 1st half) and the game began.

The first 10 minutes passed by with both teams feeling each other out. Then came the one and only goal. From our point of view, we could tell that Alvaro Saborio had a chance to get to the errant pass, but didn’t think that much would come out of it. Then Sabo ended up with it, rounded Kennedy, then slotted it home. The fans in our section were aghast at the defensive error, but I stood up proudly holding my scarf celebrating.

After the goal, it seemed like RSL became disjointed in defense and wave after wave of Chivas attacks came. Then came disaster: the Nat Borchers red card. From our point of view, we cleanly saw the foul, but we couldn’t tell whether a) it was in our out of the box or b) if Beltran was close enough to take away the "Denying Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity" aspect of the red card. We got one out of two (and from the replays it appears both were correct), then managed to slip into halftime without conceding. From my standpoint, it seemed like every minute or so, Chivas was making another attack up their left side, going where Alvarez used to be until he was sacrificed to bring in Schuler.

The second half for me can be summed up in one word: physical. Multiple injuries on both sides (Heath Pearce, Jamison Olave, Kyle Beckerman, Chris Schuler) ended up adding 5 minutes of stoppage time. Neither team seemed like they would be attacking that much; Chivas didn’t seem capable of mounting a sustained assault in the second half and RSL was content to bunker and counterattack. There were a couple of nervous moments (especially since the action was taking place at the other end from where I was sitting) but ultimately, we got the 3 points.

After the game, I wandered over to the sideline seats where the RSL fans were congregating to congratulate some of the players. Tony Beltran had a strong contingent of fans congratulating him and Andy Williams gave his game jersey (long-sleeved, of course) to a fan in the stands. A small contingent of fans stuck around afterwards (despite threats from HDC security to leave) while the substitutes did fitness drills afterward until Jeff Cassar was satisfied and let them head over to the fans. Not being stubborn enough, I left after the security guards told us a couple of times that we needed to go, but as I left the stadium, I saw the players heading over where the fans still were. Next time, I’ll be more stubborn.

Despite several jokes about it (especially since the Giants fan beating at the Dodger game), not once did I fear for my safety wearing my RSL jersey in the Chivas USA section. For the true RSL fans, an away game is a must at least one time. Colorado is a good suggestion because of the closeness, LA is also good due to the nice weather, Seattle would be a good choice as well. For us RSL fans who no longer live in Utah, these away games are all we get.
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