They say that a supporter is more than just a fan. That a supporter sees their team as family, their stadium as home, and soccer as their life. A supporter is the person that will follow their team to hell and back. I’m here to tell you that it’s true. I’m Joaquin Gaitan, I’m a supporter, and I’m following the LA Galaxy to Philadelphia. Welcome to the Whiskey Diaries, a journal of away traveling adventures.
The LA Riot Squad’s tradition of traveling to away games is almost as old as the Squad itself. From the very first San Jose Booze Bus, to weekends in Portland, all the way to week long adventures on the East Coast, the Squad goes where the Galaxy goes. While not everyone can travel on every trip, we try to make different trips accessible to different people. Even so, we have people that have never traveled with us, but long to do so, and I’m not going to lie, that’s what this is about, getting you off the bench and into the game.
Some of you are probably wondering why we even bother traveling when we can watch half the games at home in Los Angeles. It’s quite simple, it’s an experience that you have to have. Once you do it the first time you start planning yearly trips, and getting creative with your home accounting, trust me. Some of us see it as a great way to take a vacation and enjoy even more time with the Galaxy and our fellow LARSers, others just want to brag about our awesome team face-to-face with opposing fans. Count me in the gloating group. Either way we have fun cheering on the Galaxy, looking for places that serve both whiskey and pancakes, and visiting capybara habitats.
What? Did you think all we did was go watch a soccer game? Surprise! Away travel is an adventure worth having, especially with the great people of LARS. The drinking may be optional, but the fun is not. Finding a hole in the wall that feels comfortable and almost like home is always a must. Trying some of the eateries that have global reputations is as well. Enjoying a couple of drinks with opposing supporters’ groups is also fun, if not always smooth sailing. While the Galaxy is definitely the focal point, it’s not the only reason to travel. Some of us roam, and do the whole tourist thing, others become instant regulars at some bars, either way it’s all about having fun. What can I say? Even though it’s counter-productive when we have supporters matches, we still enjoy our booze.
Due to scheduling, and the desire for everyone to travel together, we’ve usually done one trip per year, plus the San Jose booze bus. However, as we venture into LARS 2.0 we’re trying to get everyone in on the action and have them enjoy the experience, while also increasing the number of trips we do until we’re traveling to every away match. As I mentioned before, it can be addicting. Personally, I’ve followed the Galaxy to San Jose, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, Denver, Salt Lake, and New York. On this trip I will add Philadelphia to the list, while making a return to the Big Apple. New York, by the way, has my favorite supporters’ group not named LARS, in the Empire Supporters’ Club, and I look forward to drinking with them again before the match. That’s one of the many benefits of traveling with LARS, you meet people and force them to like you!
So as I sit in my plane enjoying a Jack and Coke on my way to Philadelphia I bring my first entry to a close and leave you with these words: When we travel, we don’t usually get the best seat in the house, but it’s usually the most fun.