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Better Know A Supporters Group – Los Angeles Riot Squad (LA Galaxy)

We continue to expand our coverage of American soccer culture with our series “Better Know a Supporters Group,” just like Steven Colbert's “Better Know a District” from “The Colbert Report“. 

Our goal: to feature each of the MLS teams' supporters groups. We've sent e-mails to each and every SG in Major League Soccer and soon you'll be able to check all what each is all about and what awesomeness they have to contribute to our growing American soccer world.
When we devised this idea a while back it was cool to be able to see what each supporter group is about, but in light of the terrible, one-sided, anti-American, condescending profile of Philadelphia's Sons of Ben SG by the British GQ (not even going to link to it to give them the site hits) we think its all the more important to give supporters groups in Major League Soccer the proper exposure and voice they deserve.
Today it's the Los Angeles Riot Squad or LARS, supporters of, you guessed it, the Los Angeles Galaxy.
As told to the Free Beer Movement by LARS member Isaac Menchaca.

The Basics

MLS Club: Los Angeles Galaxy

Stadium: Home Depot Center

Year SG Founded:

2001 – After a loss, Kevin Hartman approached a few and offered a deal. Put together a group of about 100 fans to stand, sing, & support the team and they’d get a beer keg. The rest is history.

Section Name (if other than SG name): 137/138

Any other SGs apart of your section? No.

Location of SG in Stadium (section #, side, direction): Section 138, Southeast Corner

The Meaty Questions

What are the origins of your groups’ name?

The name ‘Riot Squad’ is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the infamous Los Angeles Riots of 1992. People have often thought we’re trying to act hard or be hooligans, but true to Riot Squad nature, we’re simply having a laugh.

Favorite chants/songs?

“Riot Squad We Are Here”

Why is sitting in the supporters section the “best seat in the house”?

Who’s sitting? Standing with LARS is a different type of supporter’s experience. We don’t practice afterschool or in the offseason. This isn’t glee club. We aren’t hooligans (even if we do attract the occasional Elijah Wood wannabe). We’re there to support the team, watch a game with friends and have a few beers.
It’s that combination of a laid-back, fun loving attitude along with smart, witty chant & song selection that gives you the best of both worlds in LARS. You can support the team, pressure the visitors and not feel like you have to complete a full workout in 90 mins.

Brag. What makes your SG one of the best supporters groups in MLS?

When your SG can successfully put together a list of people whose skin you’ve gotten under which includes the city’s mayor, the team’s less than exemplary DP, and on average, about an opposition player per game, you’re doing something right.

There are many supporter groups that can claim being the “most organized” or the “loudest” but eventually that kind of support turns into ‘white noise’ for a professional athlete. When all the songs/chants are the same as the ones you hear in every stadium in the league, and when the drumming drones out the voices of the supporter, in many ways it makes the atmosphere a positive one.

A place like Seattle, with 30,000 fans every game should really be more intimidating, but the only constant you hear from players is how much they “look forward to playing in Seattle’s atmosphere” – it’s not intimidating. It’s like Disneyland.

Just a season ago in LARS we were widely criticized for making a USMNT player cry shortly after he missed the cut for the World Cup Roster; needless to say, if a player is busy thinking about what the Riot Squad is saying to him, he’s not having his best game on the field.

We’re not afraid to say / chant things that are going to sting. We know better than to do something stupid and pointless like throwing out racial slurs, talking about a player’s family, or anything else that crosses a line. But other than that, we’re very comfortable walking that line.

The constant criticism is just further confirmation that we’re doing things that no other supporter group is doing.

Great Game(s) in Team History?

It’s probably a toss-up between the 2002 final and 2005. Any time your team can reach the final stage and take the whole thing home, it’s pretty exciting. 2002 probably gets the not simply because of the reward at the end of so many struggles in previous MLS Cups.

Predictions for this season?

Top three finish. Once you get into the playoffs, it’s a toss-up.

Losing Edson Buddle would have been a disaster, but picking up Angel changes the situation from a “loss” to an “adjustment.” Other than that Bruce has addressed quite a few of the team’s concerns. The defense has gotten depth and experience on the bench. The team addressed the lack of a left midfielder with two young players, and some depth was also added to the front line.

Why Major League Soccer? Why American soccer?

Why not? Even though I understand what is meant, this question often throws me off. It’s like asking an Ankaraspor fan why the Turkcell Superlig, or asking a Colo Colo fan why the Primera Division de Chile.

L.A. is our local team, MLS is our local league, and that’s pretty much the extent of it. I get that the question makes allusion to the many who only watch EPL, or La Liga football because they view American soccer as “less than” but I really feel that the questions should be directed at them. They’re the ones with an explanation to give. For the rest of us, “I Love L.A.” is enough in our hearts.

Some of us adopted the teams we love as soon as they were formed, others who are considerably younger, have had the fortune of actually growing up with these teams, and the rest were usually dragged along by friends or coworkers and decided to stay.

It’s hard to explain why we love our teams, and I still think you’d be better off asking the “MLS sucks” crowd.

Ladies and gentlemen…. the Los Angeles Riot Squad. Learn more and/or join them by visiting their Facebook page.

Tags: Better Know A Supporters Group, Major League Soccer, Supporters Groups

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