In the corner of RFK’s crumbling edifice, a small but experienced group of fans have in recent times been making significant shows of support for DC United considerably out of proportion to their actual numbers. They are the District Ultras, founded in 2010. Here’s what they did in their first year:
Many of the individual members of District Ultras are not new to DC United, or to DC United’s historically active supporters’ group scene – arguably the consistently strongest throughout much of the league’s 16-year history – but as a group they are a new addition to a scene traditionally powered by the well-known Barra Brava and Screaming Eagles groups.
Pitch Invasion asked Srdan Bastaic, one of the driving forces behind the District Ultras, where they had come from. “Our core group has been around for much longer, handling all the tifo in the Barra for a long time, but as dominant as we were in, say, the 2005-2007 MLS period, by 2009 or so the supporter scene in US had become much stronger. It wasn’t just DC and Chicago anymore,” Bastaic said. “The DC atmosphere was already stagnating at that point and we wanted to be able to rival the new and old and improved groups. Successful groups need money to run and selling t-shirts and scarves to raise funds really wasn’t going to cut it at that point as it has in the past.”
Bastaic explained that this desire to take DC tifo to a new level and the required funding led to some intense discussions within Barra Brava. “So our tifo crew met, then tried to compromise and talk it through for several months and at the end we didn’t have a choice but to split into a separate group,” Bastaic explains.
This led to a breakaway group of tifo-mad ultras looking for a new section to call home at RFK, briefly floating amongst the other supporter group areas. “Nine of us walked and it was pretty funny for a few months,” Bastaic says. “We were all over the stadium, in the La Norte section one match, then in Screaming Eagles, then between sections. We actually did a few displays by walking into a section of regular fans and putting up these big 20 foot high banners, it was a pretty bizarre time.”
The District Ultras badly needed a space of their own. Bastaic continues, “Around the middle of the season, the DC front office figured we’re not going anywhere, so they gave us a far corner section in RFK. That’s when we started to grow, as people who were interested in our mentality had a stable section to come to.”DC United versus Seattle, 7.15.10