LOS ANGELES – Union Station was the scene of freestyle soccer displays, collaborative art projects, supporters groups banging drums and chanting, merchandise flying off the shelves and much more on Thursday night.
LAFC held a party celebrating the unveiling of the club’s crest, mixing various elements of Los Angeles culture on a landmark day in the expansion team’s history.
Shopping bags were a common accessory around the event, as new LAFC merchandise was on sale for the first time, and a line snaked around the room at various points during the night as fans waited to get their hands on black-and-gold gear.
Those in attendance were pleased with the colors and crest, featuring a winged LA logo and unveiled earlier on Thursday.
“I’m amazed,” Angel Mendoza, president of the Black Army 1850 supporter group, told MLSsoccer.com.
“This is what we’ve always wanted, a club that represents Los Angeles.”
Edgar Hernandez, who bought a hat at the party, was pleased with the look of the crest but had one item remaining on his wishlist.
“I’m looking forward to the jersey itself. Let’s see how it’s going to turn out,” he said.
The occasion was not just about commerce, but also one on which those in attendance were asked to participate in projects, including illustrations and writing accompanying the words “We Are,” which will be collected into a video called “LA Takes Flight.”
“We wanted an activity that people could take part in that wasn’t just ‘one and done’ and they weren’t part of the process, but something they could be involved in and express themselves,” explained LAFC creative director Marcus McDougald. “And so we thought a great way to do it is set up an open statement of ‘We are…’ Well, what are we? What are we as people of Los Angeles, what are we as supporters of the same team?
“It’s also a way to crowdsource some of that information. Tell me what this club means to you. Tell me what this city means to you.”
LAFC owners Henry Nguyen, Tom Penn, Mia Hamm and Nomar Garciaparra were in attendance and spoke to the crowd, as well as vice president of soccer operations John Thorrington, with team owners and soccer stars mingling with those at the event throughout the evening.
There were also a number of Los Angeles’ trademark food trucks on hand serving global cuisine for those in attendance.
All in all, LAFC is aiming to bring disparate groups together. It was just one night, of course, but the spirit seemed to be alive and well at Thursday’s party, and supporters were taking notice of the club’s twin goal of representing the city.
“I’m an Angelino, I’ve spent practically my whole life here,” Hernandez said. “Watching the team grow right in front of me, it’s only right [to support them].”