A supporters group is a necessity to the atmosphere in a soccer match. Fact or fiction?
While the opinion varies from fan to fan, the answer is yes. That's the official answer. At least from this ordinary orange fan.
While the Houston Dynamo team has given us countless things to be proud of on the field, part of their fuel is what they can hear from the stands. That's where the Dynamo supporters groups come into play.
You see, the people that set the tone of the stadium consist of the 500 or so folks standing at the Walker End side of the stadium - in sections 133, 134, and 135.
Four groups comprise the Dynamo supporters - El Batallon, Brickwall, La Bateria, and Texian Army. All four have different styles, but are all essential to not only the atmosphere, but the team as well.
We have seven short years of existence in Houston, and trust me - there has been ups and downs regarding our supporters, that's no secret. The main issue has been the inability to get all four groups united with chants so they are not playing over each other. Earlier in the year, I interviewed a Walker End Independent Supporters Association board member and this was a goal - one that I see coming to life.
But I'm not here to go down roads that have been traveled before; I'm simply here to praise our most important fans for the road they are on now.
I remember thinking in the latter part of the season how nice it would be if the groups united for the playoff push. The Dynamo were in a tough spot. Once the first place club in the Eastern Conference, they had found themselves fighting and scraping for a playoff spot. How impactful could it be during our home matches if the atmosphere created by the supporters willed the players to victory and pushed them to the playoffs and maybe even an MLS Cup?
For this season ticket holder, the game where I noticed something special was against the Montreal Impact in early October. The supporters never overplayed one another and the sound coming from the Walker End side of the stadium was clear and concise. I can't really tell you if Texian Army was signing with El Batallon and vise versa, or if each group would be quiet and respect the other's time. Whatever went on - it worked.
As the final handful of games played out, the atmosphere blossomed. The "regular" fans began clapping with the beats of the supporter's songs. Some of the more well known songs were being sung all over the stadium. It was clear the four groups were working together for a greater cause - support of the team on the field.
I'm not privileged to know what went on behind the scenes to get our groups united as we made that push for the playoffs, but I am happy to have witnessed it.
The support continued on road games throughout the playoffs, culminating in the MLS Cup. After last year brought sanctions on the groups, the attention leading up the final was all positive. The Dynamo supporters were even featured in a USA Today story.
The final was epic. There were many who said our fans were louder than the rest of the Home Depot Center. This photo above shows Galaxy supporters foreshadowed by an orange smoke bomb. Classic way to let 30,000 soccer fans remember who showed up to cheer on their team - regardless of results.
There isn't many teams in MLS that could get 2000 fans to a road game, even if it was the MLS Cup.
We have the best stadium in MLS. We have the Eastern Conference Champions on the field. We have the best players off the field. We have the best front office and coaching staff in the league.
And regardless of how many supporters pack themselves in other MLS stadiums around the country, I wouldn't want anyone else screaming from that Walker End side of BBVA Compass Stadium.
Through thick and thin, seven years of support is a great thing to build on. With the way our supporters ended 2012, I can't wait for 2013.
Thank you for your support El Batallon, Brickwall, La Bateria, and Texian Army.