Written In The Stars: How Attending My First L.A. Galaxy Game Made Me A Fan
I’ve lived in Los Angeles for six years and have yet to adopt any of the city’s sports teams. Until now.
I grew up in Denver where my dad was a die-hard fan of many teams that were direct rivals of those in L.A. (Denver Broncos, Boston Celtics), so I already knew where my loyalties lay in many of the major leagues. Except for the MLS.
And Los Angeles provided two options! When LAFC played its inaugural season in 2018, the team created excitement for the city with the promise of intense competition with the L.A. Galaxy and a question of what kind of Los Angeles resident one identifies as. Murs’ joke that LAFC fans wear Gucci shoes and eat at Mexican fusion restaurants while he and the rest of the Galaxy fans eat authentic street tacos always made me laugh. And made me ask which side of the line I was on? I mean I’m not gonna lie: I like nice things, but I also love me some street tacos from Avenida 26.
Between the two, I’ve probably been surrounded more by LAFC because I’d gone to a game on an Urban Pitch team bonding night, I know several of the team's brand ambassadors (Stix, Ms. Whang, even my pastor was an LAFC fan who did a motivational video for season ticket holders) and I covered the 2021 MLS All-Star Game, which was held at Banc of California Stadium and was a really encouraging moment for me as a sports journalist.
But there was something alluring about the L.A. Galaxy. Their winning tradition. Stars like Beckham and Zlatan. Cozmo the funny-looking mascot. Even the fact that they rebranded in 2007 shows that the team has history.
Another major impetus that made me lean toward the Galaxy was when they signed Chicharito last year. I became a fan of Javier Hernández about 10 years ago when I was in high school. He was this enthusiastic, bright-eyed rising star who made a big splash when he signed with Manchester United. And we have the same last name.
Perhaps the cherry on top was when the Galaxy supporters named their standing section Victoria Block.
This summer, I’ve been crossing things off my L.A. bucket list and have realized that I’ve actually done a lot of the things that I thought I’d want to do. Except go to a Galaxy game.
I saw that they only had one home game in September against Houston Dynamo FC, so I wrote it on my calendar and was prepared to go by myself. I’m kind of the only sports nut out of most of my friends and who’s going to be available on a Wednesday night? Thankfully, some of my friends actually did want to go. They were curious what the Galaxy lore was all about just like I was.
We pulled up to Dignity Health Sports Park at around 7:50 since we had to finish up work and couldn’t make the kickoff time. But the line to get into parking was long, giving me a relief that we weren’t the last ones in the stadium. My dad would have something to say about that since he huffs and puffs about how fans in major entertainment cities like Los Angeles don’t ever make it to games on time. Traffic is not an excuse.
We walk up, security is a breeze, and we get inside. I notice the crowd’s not super thick. My dad would remind me that the Broncos’ Mile High Stadium has been sold out for two centuries.
But the excitement is palpable. The Angel City Brigade, Galaxy Outlawz and Galaxians have the half-empty stadium rocking with chants including a remix of The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” that declares “We all cheer for the L.A. Galaxy.” There’s a middle-aged man in front of us wearing an FC Barcelona hat with “Messi” embroidered on the side soaking in every moment.
Seeing Julian Araujo and Coulibaly Sega’s neon cleats was a reminder of the swag this team has, but really I was so hyped to see Chicharito on the pitch. This was his first home game back after a calf injury sidelined him for two months.
In typical superstar soccer player fashion, he had a dramatic fall after some contact at the end of the first half where he bounced around like a pinball, gripping his legs in the fetal position. But he stood up after a while and was ok.
Even though we missed the pre-game festivities, it was a treat to see the second half introduction with the stadium blacked out and fans holding up their phone lights like little stars.
The Galaxy were down a goal by the time we arrived, but they played with grit and determination to make the game competitive in the second half. Chicharito made the statement that he’s back with a header in the 61st minute. The crowd erupted in cheers as they celebrated the Mexican star who was no longer part of Liga MX or a fancy European football club, but their own. The announcer led a chant where he called out “14” and the crowd responded with their love for the little pea.
The game ended in a tie, but the experience was a win in my books. I’ve attended sporting events for 20-something years and been to Fenway Park, a Celtics-Lakers matchup, NFL playoff games and multiple All-Star Games. There’s something special about a game that I’ll always remember as the one I declared a commitment to a team.
Striding out of the stadium with the rest of the crowd, I walked up to a vendor hawking knockoff Galaxy scarves and asked him in Spanish how much he was charging for them. He said $20 and I responded that I only had $10 on me, to which he scoffed and turned the other direction. I laughed and walked away, wishing I had stashed that extra $10 bill in the back of my phone.