Tuesday, February 21, 2012

MLS: Where 1,000 miles is a short trip for away supporters

Fire fans invade Toronto
When Tom Dunmore and 300 fellow Chicago Fire fans travelled to see their team play Toronto FC in 2007, they were met with incredulity: "When we got there, the stadium security just didn't know what to do. They had no concept of how to handle people travelling together in a large group to cheer their team on away from home." Their hosts' consternation was perhaps understandable at the time, not least because it was their grand opening home game. But what the Chicago fans found then is still common for many seasoned away supporters, though these negative experiences are as underappreciated as is the phenomenon of away travel in MLS itself. It's often ignored outside the United States, but there is a strong tradition of large groups travelling to support their teams, but this is at the amateur collegiate level. In professional sport, MLS is out on its own. Given the distances, the commitment of its away fans is without doubt world class; literally, few go further.

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