CARSON, Calif. – One of the tentpole events of MLS Cup week is the annual Supporters Summit. For the league’s most ardent fans, it’s the annual sales convention and spring break rolled into one. It is ComicCon for the MLS hardcore.
This year, supporters are being served three days of events in and around Carson, home of MLS Cup 2011, including a Supporters Night Out in nearby Hermosa Beach and a town hall-style Q&A with MLS Commissioner Don Garber.
First up, however, was an all-night meet and greet event on Friday night at the Torrance Marriott featuring poolball, drinks, auctions, the Budweiser girls, and appearances by Chivas USA’s Heath Pearce and Michael Lahoud.
Timbers fan Garrett Dittfurth arrived from Portland earlier in the day and wasted zero time in getting knee deep into the festivities.
“We landed about 2 pm this afternoon and have been going ever since,” he said. “We saw a presentation from Budweiser’s brewmaster, which was interesting being from a beer city like Portland.”
For fans like Kansas City’s Sean Dane and Toronto FC follower Boris Aguilar, the appeal of brotherhood among supporters was a big draw.
“This is good – it’s great to see other supporters out,” said Dane, a member of The Cauldron. “Sometimes you feel isolated when you’re only around your own team in your own city, so to see the same passion represented from all these other cities is great.”
Aguilar, who serves as the Red Patch Boys president, agrees with Dane.
“I’m originally from LA, so it’s good to be back home and to get out of Toronto and see other supporters,” he said.
The Summit isn’t all about fun and championship games; it is also an opportunity for these independent groups and the league’s liaisons to get together and discuss issues endemic to North America’s unique supporters culture.
“Tonight is fun, but we’re here primarily for an Independent Supporters Council,” said Dittfurth. “That’s mainly why we’re here, but also because we want see what we can do to help grow supporters culture and help grow the league.”