The Best of Major League Soccer's Opening Weekend
Hello, and welcome to American Tifo, a weekly newsletter for, and about, North American soccer supporters. Thank you for being here. If you haven’t already, subscribe! If you’re a member of a supporters group, please consider sharing this with the rest of your SG and encouraging them to subscribe as well.
Major League Soccer began its 27th season last weekend, and it couldn’t have come at a more interesting(re: terrifying?!) time in the world. From protests to Prideraisers to tifos, supporters groups from around Major League Soccer used their platforms to send messages, celebrate their histories, and make a difference.
Prideraiser Steps Up
On February 22nd, Texas governor Greg Abbott sent a directive to the Department of Family and Protective Services calling on it to “conduct a prompt and thorough investigation” of any reported instances of minors undergoing “elective procedures for gender transitioning.”
The news was met with disgust and horror by many around the nation, and the founders of Prideraiser leapt into action immediately, devising a last-minute fundraiser for the first week of the MLS season.
“Prideraiser was not planning anything at all for MLS opening weekend,” said Prideraiser co-founder Galen Riley. “Governor Abbott published an abhorrent and cruel executive order targeting trans kids, their families, and their teachers and caretakers on Tuesday the 22nd- that happened to be the week of the first MLS fixtures, so we saw an opportunity to spin up the Prideraiser site for the occasion.”
Things went from idea to concrete plan in just a few days, and the full campaign was up and running two days before matches kicked off.
“Our team had a discussion about a response and everybody was on board,” said Riley. “After some research into organizations doing work on the ground in Texas, we selected the Transgender Education Network of Texas as the campaign beneficiary and the campaign site was launched the evening of the 24th. The ability to move so quickly is a testament to the quality of our software engineering and the dedication of our volunteers.”
Unlike Prideraiser’s traditional campaign structure, this iteration encouraged individuals and groups to pledge a monetary donation per goal for all goals scored across the the 14 MLS matches that weekend.
“Prideraiser campaigns are historically operated by a local supporters group and donations are based on one team's goals. Running a campaign out of HQ was brand new for us, as was covering multiple teams, so we had no idea what to expect,” said Riley.
The final tally climbed to $267.49 per goal scored, and with 35 goals over the weekend, $9,362 was raised for the Transgender Education Network of Texas.
“We describe Prideraiser as a coalition of supporters (many are rivals in contexts outside of Prideraiser) and it was wonderful to see so many fans from so many places come together to participate in the event, and a commitment of more than $9,000 is a spectacular return for a few hours of effort,” said Riley. “We are sure that TENT will put those resources to good use in improving the lives of transgender Texans.”
Portland Speaks Out
In Portland, as the gulf between the Timbers front office and its supporters grows wider, members of the Timbers Army used its home opener as an opportunity to send another clear, direct message to the front office, voicing their displeasure.
Instead of putting time and resources into constructing a tifo for opening day, the group donated those funds to organizations that support individuals experiencing domestic violence.
At the Timber’s 2-2 draw against New England, signage and displays included Ukraine flags, a banner with resources for individuals experience domestic violence, and a large “You Knew” banner.
Tifos Around MLS
This is NOT an exhaustive list so if your group’s tifo is not on here, shoot me a message for next time!
Houston Dynamo supporters unveiled a tifo honoring current GM and club legend Pat Onstad and their 2006 MLS Cup-winning side with the words “The past is in our hearts/The future is in your hands.”
DC United supporters honored its club’s greatest moments with a multi-part tifo that included shout outs club legends Cary Talley, Eddie Pope and Jaime Moreno.
The Philadelphia Union’s Sons of Ben highlighted some of their clubs best kits, with incredible attention to detail.
The first tifo of the year for Columbus Crew supporters features Crew Cat beginning the journey for the club’s third championship star with a message of “The Ascent Starts Today”
In Los Angeles, LAFC’s 3252 paid homage to Mexican singer, actor and producer Vicente Fernandez who passed away at the end of 2021.
In the second week of the season, the best supporters in the world at Toronto FC (though maybe I'm a bit bias) had a large-scale Ukrainian flag that said "Glory to Ukraine/Glory to the Heroes."