Los Angeles Football Club won’t begin play in MLS until 2018, but in the time since they were announced, the club has kept busy. They've announced a stellar ownership group, built a passionate front office, and have broken ground on their very own stadium in the heart of Los Angeles.
But there is something else going on around the club that is playing a huge part in the LAFC identity. The team boasts a diverse set of supporters' groups that have been involved from the very early days. So who are the established supporters' groups so far? We met up with them to find out, and let them explain what their groups are about, in their own words.
Photo by Benjamin Hooper
"The Expo Originals started in May 2015, when the first renderings of the stadium came out. At that time, the only two other supporters' groups linked to LAFC were the Union Ultras and the Black Army, both former Chivas USA groups. The community was kind of asking for an LAFC original group; nothing against the Chivas groups. We have a great relationship with every supporters' group, but there was kind of a demand for something that started with LAFC.
We have very diverse members from all races, ages and backgrounds. That is probably what I am most proud of. Everyone gets along and is very welcoming. I’m very proud of that.
Initially we didn’t give the club a name as we wanted to be a very open and democratic group. We don’t do anything without talking to the members first and hearing what they have to say. We went through a nine-month process where there were hundreds of suggestions for names. Eventually we got to the decision of the name Expo Originals and our logo as well, which was also designed by the members.
Everything we do is by the supporters for the supporters, created by members. Every member has the same amount of power; there’s no head honcho or president or anything like that. For the past year we have been building our foundation. We are now working on our style and aesthetic and we’re very proud of that." -- Fernando Varela
Photo courtesy of Relentless
"We are a pretty unique supporters group in that about 90 percent of our members work at Southwest Airlines. Since we all work for an airlines and can fly basically for free, we decided that we should be the away force at away games. Obviously we will be at the home games, but we want to go to as many away games as possible and be the band and the supporters' group at away games for LAFC.
When we first started the club, we established a fund that everyone chips into so that when we go to away games, we have one card to use to arrange everything for each trip. We are going to try and be at every LAFC away game.
Everyone in the group is a passionate soccer fan. We all supported different teams from around the world, but never really felt connected to the Galaxy or Chivas USA when they were around. We eventually decided that we wanted to support an MLS club, and it coincided with LAFC being announced. We thought it would be great to get in on the ground floor and support from the beginning.
As for the name of the group, we sat down and agreed that we’ve been so passionate about other teams and leagues and we noticed that the theme for our support of these other teams and leagues was that we were relentless in our support and with our passion. The name Relentless grew out of that passion that we all share." -- Alex Vasquez
Photo by Imad Bolotok, @imadshoots
"We used to support Chivas USA before they folded; back then our name was the Union Ultras. We’ve been around for nine years as a supporters' group. We’re a very diverse supporters group with people that support teams all around the world. We’re a family, we’re loyal and we’re really passionate.
Most of the members have been in the group for a long time, but we have new members as well. We decided to change the name to the District 9 Ultras to embrace LAFC 100 percent. We chose District 9 because our stadium is being built in the ninth district of L.A.
We’re excited about the stadium being in the heart of L.A. We needed a team that would cater to the people of Los Angeles. L.A. is so diverse, it’s global and we have people from all around the world here. The owners of LAFC really want to represent what LA is about. That’s very important to us as fans. That’s why we jumped to support LAFC. It was a needed change. We have a unique opportunity to be a part of building the club from day one and that means so much to us." -- Julio "Chiva Mayor" Ramos
Photo by Imad Bolotok, @imadshoots
"Our supporters group started with just two of us. We started by becoming 'LAFC Originals.' From there we got a phone call from the front office to see if we would be interested in meeting with them to tell us more about that club. That day we decided to start a supporters' group for LAFC. We’re now up to about 35 guys.
I think what is different about Cuervos is that none of us have belonged or been a part of any other supporters' group before. We’re all guys that grew up here in LA.. loving soccer. We really share the same mentality about why we couldn’t jump on board with other MLS clubs in L.A.. We finally got a team here that we could fully get behind and support. This is the first time we’ve all been this excited about a team and this supportive of a club.
LAFC, as a club, always talks about how we are all building this together, and that’s really how this is. They ask us questions about stadium design and about our supporters' section and how we want it, how we want the supporters' bar to be that will be in the stadium, even what kinds of sponsors we would like. For them to take us into account like that has been incredible." -- Oscar Ric
Photo by Benjamin Hooper
"Our whole thing when we started was we wanted to be separate from the norms of supporting a club, and having black and white as our colors was a part of that. It reflected our style of supporting and our notion of being an army.
The Black Army was founded in 2010 with the idea that we were going to support an MLS team from Los Angeles that wasn’t the Galaxy. We wanted our own team, and a lot of people didn’t feel a connection to the Galaxy. So we started a supporters group 'and the only option that we had was Chivas USA.
Fast-forward a few years and Chivas USA is gone. After Chivas USA folded and they announced LAFC, it didn’t take us very long to realize that was the team that we were going to support. When this was happening and Chivas USA was going away, we made a decision to support soccer in all of Los Angeles. The only exception to that was that we were not going to support the Galaxy.
We do a lot of charity group. We work with a lot of local charities. We’ve done 'Home Walk' for the last two years; we go to Skid Row here in LA and we pass out food and water to the homeless. We try to do a lot of things like that in the community.
1850 is an important year in the history of Los Angeles. That is why 1850 is in the name. It shows our mentality of us wanting to be of L.A. and supporting a team that is of L.A. The black and gold of LAFC works really well with the original colors that we chose and we couldn’t be happier with that." -- Jerry Jimenez
Photo by Benjamin Hooper
"LAFC Luckys or 'Lucky Boys' have a long history dating back to 1996, when a group of expats led by Liverpool fan Eric Fearon convinced David Farnsworth, the late owner of Lucky Baldwins Pub, to bring in televisions to show games from Europe. The original Lucky regulars were older expats, some Irish fellas and a Scottish guy. They didn't officially call themselves Lucky Boys, but the old-timers are now considered the 'Original Luckys.'
Over time our 'Regulars' have supported their European clubs and countries loudly with a pint or two while taking the piss out of each other for 90 minutes-plus. The unwritten rule of singing for your club regardless of your singing ability or supporter numbers is special to Lucky Baldwins, and was established by the Originals and has created our LAFC Luckys identity today.
We officially formed as LAFC Luckys in December 2015 after being invited by the club for their initial supporters' round table. Our infamous first meeting held at Lucky Baldwins in the evening ended somehow with us getting kicked out for singing too loud. (The evening shift pub manager was not too tolerant of our early morning football atmosphere talents).
Our current members are comprised of local American, European, and a global mix of supporters from all over the world who show up on a regular basis to watch football at Lucky Baldwins Pub. One of the main reasons of supporting LAFC would be that for the first time, instead of showing up to support our beloved EPL teams as rivals, we can now be friends and supporters for one team under a freshly built Los Angeles Football Club team crest.
We decided early on not to grow beyond our 20 or so core members for now, but our support on social media continues to grow and expand. We have only officially voted in one new member because of his art talent and drinking ability. We see ourselves as advisors to the club and are there to help and support our larger fellow LAFC supporters' groups." -- Sal Reyes
Photo courtesy of Venice SC
"The vast majority of supporters in Venice SC are from the west side of Los Angeles, close to Santa Monica and Venice. Soccer is really popular on the west side of LA. It’s a tight community. A lot of the group members have always done things together, organized soccer events, etc. We have really strong youth clubs around here and the majority of the people here grew up playing soccer against one another. We still play soccer with former players and coaches that we grew up with.
When we saw that LAFC was coming and what they were doing, it was clear that they wanted to be a club that represented the city. They were building the club in a super-relevant way. The location of the stadium is such an important location for the stadium to be built. They were really tapping into the roots of L.A. and they were trying to create an image that the club would have an appeal on the international scale.
We wanted to be a part of this and we have taken our passion for the sport and that helps drive the supporters' group and our passion for LAFC." -- Davis Lau