Washington Post: United Force

Wednesday’s Washington Post Style section features an excellent report, complete with multimedia online, on D.C. United supporters groups — particularly the Barra Brava.

In the beginning, 11 years ago, a real estate agent from Bolivia named Oscar Zambrana bought 15 tickets for the first D.C. United home game. The only way he knew to root for the home team was the way they do it back home in Santa Cruz.

He went to a pawn shop in Wheaton where the owner, a Uruguayan, offered to exchange drums for a ticket. Deal.

Stadium authorities did not understand this exuberant form of fan love. The second game, drums were barred.

But Kevin Payne, president of D.C. United, did understand. “This is not other sports,” says Payne. “Rather than have a band getting up occasionally to play a rehearsed song, our fans make their own music.” Deny this urge, and the cost to a franchise in passion, atmosphere, noise and ticket sales is incalculable.

In a season when Toronto fans have received much (justifiable) praise for the excitement they’ve brought into MLS in their first season, it’s worth remembering that other MLS fanbases have been in fine form for over a decade.

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