EDITOR'S NOTE: As part of MLS Unites, a joint initiative between MLS and the MLS Players Association, we will be shining a spotlight on and showing our appreciation for the supporters who continue to inspire us during these uncertain times and drive our return to the field. Visit our MLS Unites for Supporters page to see everything the league, clubs, players and coaches are doing.
Every few months, renowned artist Derek Gores loves to throw on his old Tampa Bay Mutiny jersey.
Retro jerseys from the now-defunct MLS club are part of the league's lore but for Gores, it brings him back to supporting the Mutiny since the league's inaugural season. He knows all about supporter culture and how it's evolved, now a fan of Orlando City with the Mutiny closing up shop long ago.
That's part of the reason Gores was so proud to put together a piece of art in collaboration with MLS for MLS Unites, a collage of supporters from all clubs in their march to the match.
“The longest loves in my life, honestly, are art and the beautiful game of soccer," Gores told MLSsoccer.com. "It’s thrilling to put them together. To capture the country, plus a couple cities in Canada and reference the global game in one piece of heart, makes me feel good. I’m proud to say I captured a little slice of the goodness in these crazy times we’re living in.”
Gores exhibits his art in galleries in Los Angeles, Paris, Quebec, New England, Miami and more. His style is collage art, forming a piece from hundreds of pieces of recycled material, cut out from magazines, newspapers or printed paper from online.
“Not only do I love the game, I love the community and the unifying culture of the sport," Gores said. "When I saw what was happening with the pandemic, and how great a job the league and teams were doing with connecting with fans, I thought my collage technique really lends itself to this kind of storytelling. A lot of little pieces add up to the more important story.”
Gores took inspiration from how unique every team is, yet still connected together. Supporter culture brings those connections to life.
“All of these teams, they’re so different," Gores said. "Different traditions, even down to what they put on their website. Everything’s different, but we’re all in this together. Somewhere in the middle there is the possibility of sports, culture, passion and, ultimately, community. Hopefully the art captures a slice of that.”