By Tyler Trent
Image courtesy of Charlotte FC
With the weekend approaching, the excitement of the Charlotte FC match day begins to creep up. The team will be playing away at Montreal, which allows fans the chance to relax at home, or take a trip to a local bar to watch the match with friends. However, for some, this away game will be an adventure into new cities and stadiums – and potentially into hostile territory to support their club with the same passion they would at Bank of America Stadium.
For La Muerte, one of Charlotte FC’s most recognizable supporters, preparing to travel for away games has become his normal routine. He has attended every away game this season and has plans to travel to the remaining games. La Muerte, a Mint City Collective board member, shared his thoughts on what makes away days so special. “Just seeing neat places and meeting new people. I love traveling, but sometimes it gets tiring, especially when they are back-to-back away games. There is nothing like home!”
Patrick Aquino, Cofounder of Carolina Hooliganz, shared the sentiment of La Muerte.“Traveling is always fun. Getting to visit new places we’ve never been to is always a great experience - meeting new people, making new friends - but nothing compares to those home games. Bank of America Stadium has become like a second home.”
Traveling away from Charlotte is a change of pace. Bank of America Stadium has packed in at least 30,000 supporters for every home game this season, but on the road, our fans are outnumbered. However, Marce Sierra, a member of Blue Furia and a capo in the supporter section, says she has even more excitement to represent the team at away games. “Although I am always super proud of my team, my colors, and my “boys” - at away games, I always have a more profound sense of pride showing off my colors.” While Charlotte supporters will most likely be outnumbered on the road, supporters like Marce will always be there to back the team. “My main goal is to make sure that our boys know that we are there supporting them, even if we are just a handful, and that they are never going to play alone or play in silence.”
Image courtesy of Marce Sierra
Sir Minty Introduces Himself to the US Open Cup Stage
Charlotte FC played three away games during their first year competing in the US Open Cup, where they were ultimately knocked out by the New York Red Bulls in the Round of 16. In the first match, Charlotte competed against a tough Greenville Triumph squad. Charlotte went on to win in extra time after a late goal from Harrison Afful, but the biggest highlight for many was the appearance of Sir Minty in the stands. Members of the Mint City Collective supporter group created a tifo of the legendary mascot bursting onto the scene of the 107th edition of the US Open Cup. The tifo received a lot of praise across social media.
Image courtesy of Carolina Hooliganz
Patrick Aquino and the Carolina Hooliganz decided to carry on the Sir Minty tifo tradition heading into the next US Open Cup match against the Richmond Kickers. “We thought it was really cool and wanted to create the next one for the Richmond match. When we were brainstorming on what it would be, there was online banter between us and one of their supporter groups. I thought, “Hey, let’s make it like a boxing match and have Sir Minty knocking out their mascot the kangaroo!” I’m not the best artist, so I asked our members if anybody was good at drawing. Ulises, who goes by CLTFC Lucha, offered to draw something up. Another member Nathan, also known as Masked Hooligan, painted that tifo all by himself.
Image courtesy of Carolina Hooliganz
Charlotte got out some away game frustration against Richmond, ultimately scoring five goals and advancing to the next round of the Open Cup behind the singing from the fans who had made the trip up to Virginia.
The Carolina Hooliganz decided to carry on the tradition of bringing Sir Minty along with them when they traveled to the campus of Montclair State University to face the New York Red Bulls. “We did the same thing with the Red Bulls tifo. We went through the Tifo Committee for their approval and they loved it! We had a lot of fun making those and some great memories.” We asked Patrick if there were plans to make any more Sir Minty tifos this season, or if they were going to keep it as an Open Cup tradition. “There’s a good possibility for a Sir Minty tifo in the future, but if not, we will definitely make it an Open Cup tradition.”
Image courtesy of Carolina Hooliganz
Traveling to a Welcome Party or Into the Lion’s Den?
Traveling to away games can make some people nervous about negative fan experiences with opposing supporters. However, our away supporters have had mostly great interactions with opposing fans around the league this season. Patrick Aquino, who has attended six away games this season so far, shared his experience. “Honestly, for every away game we have been to, we had some very welcoming fans who have made our away experience memorable. Of course, there’s one or two who are not so welcoming, but we know that’s just part of the game.”
Marce Sierra echoed that statement. “Overall, most of them treated us good. Some people have even approached us to give us encouragement and to congratulate us, because even though it is our first season, we are doing an excellent job. The most welcoming, I have to say Columbus Crew. The club, security, and the fans were really welcoming.” La Muerte gave a shoutout the to Colorado Rapids supporters for their great attitude toward the traveling fans of Charlotte FC.
While most interactions with the opposing fans were positive, unfortunately not all of them have been. Multiple people we spoke with responded that Orlando City’s fans were by far the most unwelcoming. “The club and the security were really rude and the fans were just plain offensive and aggressive inside and out of the stadium.”
Overall, Charlotte FC’s supporters have experienced open arms throughout the league, and they hope they have shown that same respect to opposing fans traveling to Bank of America Stadium. The QC Royals supporter group always make a point to go out of their way to invite opposing fans to their tailgate and share recommendations for the Charlotte area.
Images courtesy of QC Royals
Making Memories on the Road
Away games have yielded rocky results on the pitch, but fans have made the most of it so far this season in the stands. La Muerte’s favorite away trip so far has been the DC United. “Our first game ever! There were more than 400 Charlotte FC fans singing all 90 minutes. You couldn’t hear DC’s supporter group at all!”
Patrick reminisced about Charlotte’s first MLS game and his trip to Washington DC. “The most memorable away game was our trip to DC. To finally be able to watch our team take the pitch after 2+ years of waiting was such a good feeling. We didn’t win that match, but I was so happy to finally have a home team I could root for.” However, Patrick’s favorite was the trip to Richmond. “Even though it was for the Open Cup match, watching our team scoring so many goals was great! And of course, all the attention our Sir Minty tifo got.”
Marce’s favorite away trip was to rivals Atlanta United, and the first MLS goal in Charlotte FC’s history scored by Adam Armour. “We were waiting for that moment for a few games and to be able to experience it was everything. I can say most of us, if not all, cried!” She currently has plans to attend six more away games this season and has one wish for the future. “What I want the most is to be there for our first big win at an away game!”
Overall, traveling to away games has been a great experience for Charlotte FC’s supporters this season. Even though it can get exhausting and expensive, the supporters we talked to wouldn’t have it any other way, and have made memories that will last for the rest of their lives. If you are interested in traveling to an away game in the future, be on the lookout for supporter groups organizing trips for Charlotte FC fans to travel and sit together at the matches. It can be a very rewarding experience, and a great way to connect with your fellow supporters and even make some new friends with opposing fans.