Rivalry weekend is almost here, and in Southern California that means all eyes are on this weekend's SuperClasico showdown between the LA Galaxy and Chivas USA (Sunday, 5 pm ET, UniMas).
MLSsoccer.com’s Scott French and Blair Angulo sat down with longtime fans of the LA Galaxy and Chivas USA, respectively, and got their perspective on everything from the SuperClasico to representing Los Angeles to what they think of the projects their rival team is undertaking.
On the LA Galaxy side we have Brian Lynch, a longtime Galaxy fan and member of the Angel City Brigade supporters’ group, while on the Chivas USA side is Julio Ramos, the “Chiva Mayor,” who serves as the leader of the Union Ultras supporters’ group.
Both have been fans of their respective teams since they came into existence – since 1996 for Lynch and the Galaxy and 2005 for Ramos and Chivas USA. Here’s what they had to say:
What made you become a fanatic?
Brian Lynch, LA Galaxy fan: Honestly, it's more fun. It's a release at the end of the week, or, as in the case of last night [at the Herediano game], in the middle of the week. It's so much better to express yourself at the game, during the game, than to sit at home and watch it on TV. It's a better way to watch it, it's a better way to support the team, you feel like you're part of the team, you feel like you're contributing to something. It's just a better experience.
Julio Ramos, Chivas USA fan: I became a fanatic since Day One, because the club will represent to me what I left back in Mexico* and it give me the opportunity to show my kids the Chivas culture just like my dad did with me in Guadalajara.
(* Ramos moved to the United States from Mexico 20 years ago as a 12-year-old.)
What was your most memorable SuperClasico?
BL: When we met them in the playoffs, in 2009. That was fun. Back when they were relatively good and they could beat the Galaxy. That was great. But recently? I can think of the worst one, last year when we lost to them, because we hadn't lost to them in so long. But it's all fun. In theory, it's a great idea to have that crosstown rival. It just doesn't work out so well in practice.
WATCH: Mendoza finishes off LA in 2007 SuperClasico
JR: When we beat them 3-0 [August 23, 2007] with two goals from Maykel Galindo and one by [Francisco] ‘Panchito’ Mendoza, and of course the great kick from our captain Jesse Marsch to David Beckham .
What’s your current opinion of your rival club?
BL: Not a lot. There's a little bit of hatred left, but it's mostly apathy at this point. You know? I guess if they did something interesting…it might spark something.
I think when they came into the league it was hatred, but now it's just “ehh.” I don't know if I or really very many other Galaxy fans want to put enough energy into disliking them anymore.
JR: They used to be a team that represents Los Angeles, but not anymore. They should change their name to the Hollywood Galaxy. Most of their "fans" (not all of them) have no clue of what soccer really is.
Which player from your rival would you welcome onto your team?
BL: Oh, yeah. I think Juan Agudelo, if or when he's available, I would think we'd take him. [Dan] Kennedy would be awesome. In the offseason, there were some rumblings about he might come to the Galaxy, and I think that woiuld be an amazing move for him and the Galaxy. It's almost tragic to see this guy wade through the futility that is Chivas USA when he obviously has some talent and skill that exceeds the rest of the team.
JR: No one. I don't know how to say that in a good way.
WATCH: Top 10 SuperClasico moments
What’s the atmosphere like during SuperClasicos? Is there any sort of bond or particular animosity between the supporters?
BL: There used to be animosity. The Legion would come to those games, and they were Guadalajara supporters. And they would cause trouble with us; unfortunately, they would also cause trouble with the Chivas supporters. They don't come to those games anymore; they don't come to the Clasico games.
There are people on both sides who have friends. I'm pretty cordial with a lot of the Chivas guys, and we have respect for each other. On game day, you know, you got for intensity and all that. There's animosity because they exist as a team in our city, but there's not a lot of personal animosity.
Guys in both the Black Army and Union Ultras, we have respect for them, because that's got to be a living nightmare trying to support that team.
JR: [It] is great. We even have a ‘Barra Clásico, a game between supporter groups Union Ultras vs. Angel City Brigade prior to the SuperClasico. We have this game to let the world know that just because we are from a supporters’ group, that does not mean that we are criminals, and to promote non-violence among supporter groups.
Is there any bond between fans simply because of the local ties?
JR: We both represent Los Angeles. That is it.
Would you root for your rival team in the CONCACAF Champions League, knowing that MLS success in the tournament is good for everyone?
BL: I guess I could put it this way, because I would like to see Seattle beat Santos and get to the final [of the current edition]. Chivas is a little trickier, though. [If they stay in their current situation], I don't know that I would root for them if they were in CCL.
JR: [I] don't know if a Chivas USA fan would cheer for them, but I know for sure that I wouldn't.
Should the Galaxy, given all their success, be the model to follow for Chivas USA?
BL: Yes. I'm completely biased -- I think the Galaxy should be a model for pretty much every team in MLS...We live in a diverse city and you kind of want your team to reflect that.
I think the Galaxy have a fantastic model, certainly with big-name players coming in with DP slots, then bringing the youth up, getting these guys when they're young and eager.
JR: What is life without faith? We are building a great team.