So you're going to an away match? How exciting! No, really. I'm jealous. Whether this is your first or your tenth, there's something to be said about being reminded of some of the intricacies of being in another teams stadium surrounded by their fans. I thought I'd put together a little Away Match Guide for everyone traveling during the playoffs just as a reminder or a notification of what to expect at the match.
1. First come, first serve seating.
I know that this might come as a shock, but 99.5% of the time at away matches the home team gives away supporters a section. We all buy tickets in that section, and then it's GA. That means you sit where you can, and it may not be the seat that you bought. If you want to sit close to the field or you really liked the seat that you chose, then get there early. Most the time getting into the stadium as early as they will let you is a good idea.
Get to know your fellow fans! There is usually a meet up before the match somewhere in the parking lot at the stadium or at a pub before hand. Go. I mean it. Meet the people you'll be standing with. Talk to them. Eat food with them. It makes the whole experience better. If you see someone wearing RSL colors, say hi. I promise most fans don't bite. .
3. Don't be afraid of the home fans.
There's a sense, at some stadiums, that you should be afraid of the area or the people that are there. Images of Green Street Hooligans pop into people's heads when LA Away or Rapids Away are mentioned. I can assure that if you are respectful, they will be respectful. I've had good experiences at every away match I've been to, when we keep things in line.
4. Banter is fun.
Getting into a "you suck" yelling match with opposing fans is all sorts of fun when it's just banter. Don't get offended and don't aim to offend. Yes, chant. LOUDLY. It's always a proud moment when we come back from an away match and we hear "you guys were all we could hear on TV!" We want that. But keep it within reason. Again, being respectful helps avoid those unwanted situations.
5. Scream your guts out.
This is probably the most important. If you go to an away game you represent all of the rest of us that couldn't make it. Do us proud. Come home without a voice and 3 points. Sing the songs, chant with the group, wave your scarf or banner. Let everyone in the stadium know that RSL is there to win and that you are behind them 100%. Don't stop. There's generally one person in the section that takes charge with the chants. Follow their lead. If you don't know them, pay attention and try and chime in when you can. I promise that it makes the whole experience better.
6. Enemies for 90
I hate some teams. We all do. I hate some fan groups, too. But in the end all of that should be handled on the field. The "Enemies for 90" saying is something that you hear a lot amongst fan groups. For 90 minutes you're enemies. You will say things to each other, make gestures at each other, and wish that the other guys hearts are broken in an excruciating way. But when the game is over, it's over. Win, lose, or draw, it's over. If we win, have fun with it, of course but try and remember what it would feel like on the other end.
Some of my favorite experiences as a fan are the away matches I've been able to go to. Portland, LA, Colorado, Kansas City have all been amazing in their own way. These trips are largely what you make of them. I really think that these trips are what solidify a lot of fans as addicts. You put so much on the line in "enemy territory" it gives another dimension to your fandom. So, if you're going this weekend to LA Have a lot of fun, be loud for 90 min, and remember the 6 points above. I promise that trip will be worth it.