What Is The LA Riot Squad?
In basic terms, the LA Riot Squad (‘LARS’) is a supporters group for the LA Galaxy that stands in sections 137 & 138 (and increasingly 139) of the StubHub Center.
In reality, we are a lot more than that. We hang out hours before the game drinking and having fun, meet up at local bars & pubs to watch away games, form lifelong friendships (and marriages!) and do charity and outreach events across Southern California. People who’s circles would never, ever intersect become lifelong friends through the bond of standing together during the highs and lows of supporting the LA Galaxy.
We are a 501(c)7 organization. This allows us to raise money and support local soccer-related projects and charities in Southern California.
Check out our rules of conduct for more about our culture.
How Do I Join?
In the simplest sense, it’s as easy as buying a ticket in the LARS General Admission section and standing and cheering with us during a game. Bam, you’ve joined LARS. Congratulations.
In truth, there are different levels of involvement which can be boiled down to three general tiers:
1. As stated, join us for a game. Everyone is welcomed with one request – you are there for the Galaxy (or at the very least, not for other other team!). It’s probably easiest to dip your toes into the LARS miasma by coming out to enjoy a game and see if LARS is for you. Make sure that you find us before the game well in advance to have some beers and get to know us. Despite any appearances, we are a very welcoming bunch – everybody had a first game – and we’re always happy to bring new people into the fold. We are made up of any cross-section of society you can imagine (old and young, married and single, with and without kids, and from every corner of the globe) so if you are there to support the Galaxy, you will share a common bond with everyone.
2. Join the ‘LARS Trust’. By paying dues, you do a few things. Primarily, you become a member of the LARS Trust, which is in its nascent stages and will eventually become an IRS-recognized charitable organization. In doing this, you not only help lay the financial groundwork for our developing efforts to give to the local community, but you get an exclusive LARS scarf (yes, exclusive) and also contribute to enhancing the gameday atmosphere with banners, flags, tifo, and all that fun stuff. But the real reason to become a member is to know that you are helping LARS have a positive impact in the local community.
3. If you’ve completed steps 1 and 2 (or even if you haven’t) and want more, you can become directly involved in the day-to-day operations of the Riot Squad. You can do this by attending tifo-making parties (both funds AND help are required to get these things created), going on away trips with LARS to support the Galaxy in different cities, or really just by asking a LARS Chair (more on that in the next question) about how you can help the Riot Squad. Our needs evolve as our groups does, and we can always use more help. If you’re really crazy, you can join the loose organization of LARS leadership and help guide the ship.
How Is LARS Organized?
Herding cats is easy compared to organizing the Riot Squad, but we’re beginning to understand what works and what doesn’t.
As far as the game-day experience, the organization is loose but present. We congregate in the grass outside of the northeast entrance to the stadium by Lot 13 at least three hours before kickoff. The beer flows freely, DJs spin (good) music, friends catch up, and the party gets started.
Inside the stadium in sections 137 and 138, the seating is general admission – which means there is no pre-determined seating (first come, first served) and we stand and chant/sing for most of the game. The chants are led by a capo in a box facing LARS (the capo is often led in turn by LARS). He or she mainly helps coordinate the different sections of the group into one voice.
The rest of the time, LARS is organized by a committee of separate “Chairs” which coordinate different aspects of the upkeep of the Riot Squad, ranging from liaising with the Galaxy front office, managing outreach efforts, recruiting and hospitality, travel, etc. These Chairs are voted on three-at-a-time every year at the “State of the Squad” meeting before the season kicks off by members of the LARS Trust, and together they ensure that the LARS engine keeps humming.
How Should I Get Tickets?
The cheapest option for tickets on a per-game basis is a season ticket package, without a doubt. Contact an LA Galaxy rep and let them know you want season tickets with the LA Riot Squad. If you need help reaching a rep just let us know and we’ll get you connected. You can also opt-in to a mini game plan if you want to just wet your toes before going all-in on the season. We also sell single game tickets in our store.
What ‘Type’ Of Support Does LARS Do?
We are very proud to say that we don’t emulate any type of support that another group, team, country or culture does – we are our own brand of in-game support.
We stand during the game, and chant throughout it. That being said, we are there first and foremost to watch soccer. We do as best we can to time our flags and tifo displays to not interfere with our ability to enjoy the game. And our chants and general atmosphere are almost always tied directly to the events on the pitch. When the game is close, we are compelled to urge the team on. When we are ahead, it’s a joy to praise the Galaxy and mock our opponents. But when the team is stinking up the stadium, we aren’t the type of group that continues to jump up and down and cheer oblivious to what is happening on the field. It’s the difference between a cheer leading squad and fans fully invested in the game, and we are the latter.
We’ve also been known to take pleasure in “getting in the head” of the Galaxy’s opponents, and without fear of exaggerating, we’ve become quite good at it. This is because we believe that there truly is a home-field advantage that groups like ours can create, and we attempt to provide this both by supporting and uplifting the Galaxy as well as demoralizing and disrupting the other team. Opposing players have cursed us, broken into tears (literally), gone on the record with their anxiety at playing near our section, and generally lost their focus because they have become more worried about us than the game.
It’s also worth noting that we are loyal to the LA Galaxy above any one player, including current or former players, when they put themselves against the team. Sometimes it’s a high-profile news event, other times it’s as routine as chanting “LA reject” at a former G wearing a new crest. Hey, he’s not going to roll over and let the Galaxy beat his new employer just to make us feel better. The least we can do is treat him in kind. If he ever understood us to begin with, he should expect nothing less. He’s always welcome to come say hi after the game.
Are there rules of conduct?
The Riot Squad was formed with a distinct punk ethos, and the idea of “rules” has always felt uncomfortable. That being said, there is certain behavior that is not tolerated, and while it shouldn’t be necessary to spell out (“Don’t be a dick” should just about cover it), we will spell it out nonetheless:
• Live out your Green Street Hooligan fantasy somewhere else. The name “Riot Squad” is an ironic reference to “hardcore” ultras groups with a shout out to Los Angeles’ propensity to erupt in actual riots every now and then. Despite our menacing logo and gruff exterior, we’re here to have a good time. Kids intermingle with the loud and rowdy types, and the point is to have fun.
Violence is not tolerated. Again, we’re not some kind of “firm”. We not only do not permit violence in our section, we will cooperate with stadium or local authorities in preventing it.
• This also includes aggressive or violent behavior towards other fans or people in or outside the stadium. If you want to go looking for trouble, you are very much on your own.
We don’t attack people based on their race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, or other personal label. While we pride ourselves in intimidating and disrupting the opposing team, we don’t need to reduce ourselves to ignorant levels to do it and we won’t allow those around us to do so either.
• If you’re not sure how to behave in our section, the best advice is to have fun, go with the flow, and introduce yourself!
• Although we may appear intimidating, good soccer culture is our main concern. Adhering to MLS policies and practices are important to us… and we’re not lame enough to yell at keepers on goal kicks.
Do you have events outside of game days?
LARS is still very much alive beyond game day. Check out our facebook page for a list of events.
We gather in different areas across Southern California for away games viewings (we draw members from the Valley to San Diego and from Santa Monica to Riverside), travel in coordinated away trips to watch the Galaxy in other stadiums across the country (and out of country) and get together to make the tifo displays for game day.
We have also begun to expand our outreach efforts locally, including participating in AYSO events and middle school outreach events.