Oh, by the way? This is long.
Also, it ends abruptly just before this season began. Anything important happen with the team this year?
HISTORY OF THE RIOT SQUAD
Aka THE BOOK OF THE DEAD II – ELECTRIC BOOGALOO
4 billion years ago: a white-hot nebula coalesces to form our solar system. The Earth is an uninhabitable ball of scarred rock with no life and no atmosphere. You know, like a Kansas City game.
1 million years ago: a mutant chimpanzee descends from the trees and begins to walk upright. Ahead lay tools, language, writing, agriculture, and civilization. Until then, the hominid starts in midfield for Colorado.
2,000 years ago: Jesus is betrayed to Pontius Pilate by Hong Myung-Bo.
1995: Steve Sampson names John Harkes captain for life. Major League Soccer is officially established. In his undersea prison, Cthulhu stirs.
October 20, 1996: The Los Angeles Galaxy, playing without unjustly suspended captain Dan Calichman, lose in overtime to DC United. Cthulhu rises.
October 20, 2001: Despite not having an MLS franchise, Columbus, Ohio hosts MLS Cup. The San Jose Earthquakes, coached by Frank Yallop, and led by Landon Donovan and Joe Cannon, win their first MLS Cup. The Galaxy has lost its third MLS Cup in as many tries. Xenu roars with laughter. The Taliban are further emboldened. The clouds darken as Cthulhu casts his evil shadow over the planet.
In a last-ditch effort to save mankind, Kevin Hartman offers to buy Jeff Skinner two kegs of beer if he can form a fan group that will average a hundred fans a game.
October 26, 2001: Fullerton, California. Titan Stadium. The Galaxy win the U.S. Open Cup in overtime against New England. Paul Caligiuri plays his final game. In the southwestern stands, a rag-tag, motley gang of rogues, adventurers and fools join together to form what would become the greatest assembly of heroes ever to walk among mortals.
The Riot Squad is born.
March 23, 2002. Jeff “Section 18 Hooligan” Skinner, Tommy Mack, and Eddie Garcia, nicknamed “Gunner,” spend the previous months organizing, planning, plotting and scheming. Tommy made up the name “Riot Squad,” after Jeff insisted on something absolutely unrelated to “Galaxy” – he’d never liked the team name. The logo would be of Gunner’s design – simply a man in a gas mask. Was he meant to represent fascist oppression of free thought? Or was he the last line of defense against terrorists and hippies? Like all great art, that was left to the viewer to decide.
It was the last season at the Rose Bowl. Tailgating was legal back then. This was the year of quality grilling and quality beverages. The Squad sang as they entered the stadium, the voices booming and echoing off the Rose Bowl tunnels. It was Section 2 that year – usually the first five rows or so. Customers in rows six and above were shown to better seats.
The Galaxy won, in overtime, thanks to a game-winning goal by Carlos Ruiz. It was the beginning of a long and beautiful friendship.
April 13, 2002. Tommy Mack wears his Dallas shirt to the game against the Burn. He has yet to live that down. “If it’s not gonorrhea, it’s the Burn” debuts, and is still around despite its out-of-dateitutde.
April 27, 2002. The Galaxy had never lost with the Riot Squad in attendance until this day, a 1-0 overtime loss to Colorado. Once and future lower division player Rick Titus celebrated in front of the Squad, pointing to his crotch and the back of his jersey. ESPN2 caught the Riot Squad reaction – a hailstorm of middle fingers. From that day to this, the Riot Squad would only appear on television in extreme circumstances.
June 22, 2002. The Galaxy beat Dallas 3-0. Tommy Mack burns his Dallas shirt. Alanis Morissette stops by and asks how one would describe burning a shirt that had “Burn” on it, but none of us have any idea, so she wanders away muttering about spoons and a wedding day.
July 4, 2002. One of the legendary tailgates. Tommy Mack, still trying to regain points lost at the above-mentioned Burn game, brought a DJ set up on the 4th of July and was bumpin’ a few tunes put together by our own Stopper. Not just one Elvis impersonator, but four, were leading the chants. The party went on well into the night until the Pasadena police made Tommy pull the plug.
Even more legendary was the poster that Section18Hooligan made for the game. The Earthquakes were in town, so S18H mocked up a giant version of the infamous photo of Landon Donovan at the water fountain, with the huge caption “Money shot.” Even San Jose players thought it was funny – well, all but one.
It was a huge hit, of course, as was the accompanying chant. Based on the Korea chant that we’d already adopted with considerable success, “Oooh, Money Shot!” rang with pride throughout the Rose Bowl.
Thanks to the schedule, the sign would haunt Donovan the rest of the year. It would appear that following Sunday at San Jose (a proto-Booze Bus Galaxy visit), and thanks to Tommy Mack it would be brought to Dallas the next week for the Earthquakes game there. The hate affair between Landon Donovan and the Riot Squad had gotten off to a roaring start.
July 7, 2002: Gunner and Sidio broke their piggy banks to make this trip over two months before Booze Bus 1. It was a small band of warriors (Gunner, Darmstadt, Gift of Gab, Sidio and his brother, Gooner all went) in a 15 passenger van. Gunner and Darmstadt split the driving and the rest of us got sick in the back playing Driver on the Playstation in a moving vehicle. We overestimated traffic and ended up with 3 and a half hours to kill in the slum surroundings of Spartan. This was accomplished by a raid of the local liquor store and Big K (where Gunner was heard to say “How can you drive so far North and feel like you have gone so far South?”) and playing footie. We definitely resembled a small cluster of drunks yelling obscenities much more than a practiced group of supporters chanting for their team. The G’s lost 2-1, but from this great things were born...
September 3, 2002: US Open Cup semifinal in Fullerton against Dallas. Galaxy 4, Burn 1. The cries of “So fucking easy! This is so fucking easy!” earned us a middle finger from future friend Ryan Suarez.
September 21-22, 2002. The Booze Bus.
Now, a quick word to our younger and more impressionable viewers. Drinking to excess, simply for the sake of drinking to excess, isn’t cool. Alcohol, like any other drug, should be used with care and caution. The Riot Squad talk about beer a lot, and why not. Beer is fun. It is a useful means to lower inhibitions and thus facilitate enjoyment. But you can get beer anywhere. The Riot Squad is about the fun and the soccer.
But, if you are going to get plastered, you might as well do it in a controlled environment, surrounded by friends doing the exact same thing, and have the consequences play out far away from where you live, better still in a place you care absolutely nothing about.
Here’s the plot of every Booze Bus: Riot Squad member organizes buses, or vans, or limousine. Squad meets in the Rose Bowl, or a parking lot in Burbank, or a studio in Van Nuys. Six hours of non-stop drinking is broken up by the kind of events you get when you drink for six hours on a moving vehicle. The Squad stumbles into the Spartan Stadium parking lot, absolutely wasted. Once in the stadium, the Squad gives just about their worst performance of the year – which is still better than what San Jose fans had been doing all season. After the game, win or lose, the Squad has crashed like the Hindenburg. If the Squad is extremely fortunate, they sleep on the way back to Los Angeles. Riot Squad member who organized the transportation ends up taking a financial bath, and vows never to it again. Repeat in six months.
The original Booze Bus was a genuine bus, two of them, actually, organized by Brad Sidio. It was nearly over before it started, as Gunner tried to cover the bus with Riot Squad and Galaxy slogans, only to be accused by the driver of vandalism.
Booze Buses usually ended up as bladder endurance rallies at some point, and that tradition started early. Shooter managed the feat of passing out while standing up in the bus bathroom, which put an end to non-rest stop relief for that bus.
So the buses pull into Spartan Stadium. And we’re talking right into Spartan Stadium, immediately behind the locker rooms. Two busloads of Riot Squaders pile out into solid ground, and if you’ve ever seen two busloads of soccer fans exit a bus after a six hour trip, you’ll know solid ground was doing a number on our heroes.
The guards, though, had apparently never seen such a thing before. Jay aka RazovMustDie was one of the more upright personnel, and so the guards asked him if we were the Galaxy. By the way, the Galaxy were in first place at the time, with the overall best record in the league. At least the guard had the sense to ask, rather than assuming we were the team and showing us to our locker rooms. But still, there was enough lingering doubt for the guard to ask Jay if we were the team or not. This guard was clearly not one to judge books by covers. For all he knew, our staggering bodies belied mad skillz.
Jay, of course, replied “No, we’re not the team.” In vino veritas, or in this case, in beer veritas. It was probably the dumbest question Jay had heard in his entire life.
So the Riot Squad were herded back onto the buses, and driven to a different parking lot – one for customers. Jay was right not to lie, of course, but some of us still wonder what would have happened if he had said “Yeah – where do we warm up?”
Considering what future years would bring, there was surprisingly little conflict. San Jose fans simply looked at us like they had never seen such a thing before in their minute and tedious little lives, which was probably the case. In future years Earthquake fans would answer the call to some extent, but that wasn’t the case this year. And keep in mind they were defending champions. Krazy George had been tortured to death by this point, I believe, but they were still trying the “Earth! Quakes!” stuff they did back in the Ford Administration. Outraged, the Riot Squad sang, to the tune of “Guantanamera,” “Cheer when you’re told to! You only cheer when you’re told to!” Don Jaime would later claim that the Riot Squad had hundreds of chants to the tune of “Guantanamera,” but that was one of the better ones.
The game turned out happily for us. One-nil to the Galaxy. In the first half, Kevin Hartman stopped a Ronnie Ekelund penalty, and you knew right then and there the Earthquakes were cold meat. Ruiz ended the season as he began it, with an overtime penalty kick for the win. Clinched the division and the Supporters Shield. That would show Frank Yallop and Landon Donovan. It would be a long time before they’d show their faces in LA soccer circles.
(The Shield would be held hostage for some months by bitter Miami Fusion fans. When it came their turn, to their credit, Earthquakes fans were much classier about it.)
Aglow with triumph, the Riot Squad marched – well, walked – okay, staggered back to the buses, and were out like bell-bottoms. I think some of the group didn’t wake up until Tuesday.
October 5, 2002. The Galaxy beat Colorado 4-0 in the playoffs. Alexi Lalas named LARS Player of the Year by one vote over Carlos Ruiz. Fish would have to settle for the actual league MVP, as well as the MLS Cup MVP. I wonder if he’s over it. Picking Lalas was definitely the right call, though, as the future general manager sent yummy Patron tequila to our tailgate in gratitude.
As well he might have. Gunner designed one of the great trophies in sports – a silver keg.
October 20, 2002. October 20 had not been a good day in Galaxy history, as we have seen. Nor had MLS Cups in Foxboro been auspicious. And, as other MLS fans were helpfully pointing out, we did the J-O-B on A-B-C three times already.
But that was before the Riot Squad, wasn’t it?
A week before, Gunner is at the UCLA football game watching Cobi Jones inducted into the UCLA Hall of Fame. Gunner tells Cobi to bring the trophy to the Galaxy fan section after they win.
So Providence is the host city for this year’s MLS Cup, and that means the Supporters Bash is in this little bar downtown. In the front of the bar are the Riot Squad – about five or six, quietly drinking by themselves. No sign of other supporters. Did they leave? No, they were in the back room, where the actual Supporters Bash was. The Riot Squad didn’t really want to hang out with them. Let’s recap that. The Riot Squad traveled over three thousand miles by air, bus and automobile to end up in the very same bar in Providence, Rhode Island as the Supporters Bash, but didn’t necessarily want to be in the same room with them. It was as beautiful as the songs of holy angels.
Magpie and Gooner brought the face paint to Gillette. For some reason it didn’t catch on, but for this game we painted our faces, “Braveheart” style, in green and yellow paint. The Galaxy weren’t green and yellow yet – this was the last year in teal – but the Riot Squad had already proven they were In The Know. The Riot Squad had previously broken the news that the new stadium would be named The Home Depot Center, after all.
Before the game, the MLS Best XI (minus those playing in the game, naturally) were introduced to the crowd. Girl In The Dirty Shirt yells out, “Hey, Landon!” in the high-pitched squeal of one of his typical fans. Donovan looks, and then Dirty Shirt yells out “FUCK YOU!” with both middle fingers flying.
So this complete and utter fucking douchebag ass-spelunker in a Patriots sweatshirt gets Random Mayhem (and himself) tossed out of the game, for no real reason other than his utter fucking douchebaggedness. Emerald City Gazette photographer Andy Mead took a picture of this guy – a fat fuck in a miserable excuse for a mustache that would embarrass a teenager. Random Mayhem has gotten and will get himself thrown out of better joints than Gillette Stadium, but for once he was more sinned against than sinning. He had to enjoy the game, which ended up being the peak of the Galaxy’s existence to that point, from the Foxborough parking lot. The fat fuck later died of AIDS. Mega-super-jumbo AIDS.
The other great chant from Gillette was because the security guard told us that we couldn’t sing “You’re shit and you know you are.” Since we had already seen Mayhem tossed we bowed to his authority - thus the only known Riot Squad use of “You’re poop and you know you are!” We were heckled throughout the game by the “neutral” fans seated to our left, but they finally came over at the end of regulation and told us that our team should be proud of us.
Carlos Ruiz scores on Adin Brown. Ecstasy. Sixty thousand fans are silenced, and a hundred or so fans in the corner start jumping around flailing like demented dolphins. The team begins a victory lap. Then Cobi, true to his word to Gunner, runs straight towards the Los Angeles fans. You’ve never seen such freaking joy, and most of all relief. The Galaxy had bungled MLS Cup three times before this, twice in Foxboro. The evil monkey was off the team’s back, and in Chris Griffin’s Quahog closet where it belonged. Cobi got his ring. Cienfuegos got his ring. Hartman got his ring. Sigi got his ring. Carlos Ruiz got his ring, undoubtedly the first of many he would get with the Galaxy.
Back in Los Angeles, ten thousand Galaxy fans showed up at the Staples Center to celebrate the victory. Try holding and posing with the Stanley Cup or the World Series trophy – but we got to pose with MLS Cup, just like we would do in 2005. Shame the trophy looks like a penis.
April 26, 2003. Booze Bus II. Sidio fronts the money again, regrets it again. We learn that it gets cold, and I mean ASS cold, in San Jose in the evenings, and we really shouldn’t leave our sweaters and stuff on the buses during the game, no matter how convenient that seems. The Galaxy fail to win on the road. They would go the entire year without winning on the road. Basically, this trip was a flawless stroll compared to what we’d deal with later.
June 7, 2003. The Home Depot Center opens. The Riot Squad is assigned Section 138. Someone realizes that The Misfits have written a song in our honor, “We Are 138.” We attempt to sing the song. It flops. It’s such a simple song, though, that we’re bound to get it eventually. After well over a hundred Galaxy games, the Riot Squad has never gotten close to a decent rendition of this song. We may be the greatest fan group in the world, but we never said we were the smartest.
In honor of Hong Myung-Bo, the inaugural game of the Home Depot Center included around two hundred Korean national team fans. We would never see them again. Hong Myung-Bo drinks the blood of the innocent.
Carlos Ruiz scores twice to beat the Rapids. The new stadium looks fantastic, and I mean fantastic. The hyperbole about the place is true – there is simply no bad seat in the place, and the roof would make even so-so Riot Squad nights seem big and bold. Shame about the field, but once the grass takes root the pitch is sure to be the best in the league. Dave Matthews, Green Day, and the X-Games who?
July 9, 2003. The Galaxy had not lost a home game since April 27 of the previous year, to Colorado. They had never lost in the Home Depot Center. John Spencer put an end to that on this day, but he also passed into legend.
Spencer is taking a corner kick, and someone tosses a pretzel at him. Now, the pretzel did not come from 138 – more like Section 136. So whoever is responsible was probably not in the Riot Squad. Certainly no one has come forward and admitted to having thrown the fateful projectile.
Nevertheless. Spencer is about to take the corner kick, sees the pretzel. He picks it up. He takes a bite. He makes a face which says “It’s all right, but I’ve had better.” He throws the rest of the pretzel aside, and takes the corner kick.
There’s like this half-second pause, as the Riot Squad gasps with wonder and amazement. Then we start cheering for what, after all, was like the greatest and most awesome thing ever in the history of mankind. When the Riot Squad Hall of Fame is finally built, Spencer will be the first non-Galaxy player inducted, probably on a unanimous vote.
August 6, 2003. The Fresno Fuego come to town for the US Open Cup match. They even took a 1-0 lead. Delighting their 400 fans who made the trip down the 91 – they did a terrific job of supporting their team. And then the Galaxy took over. Poor guys. But the chants were pretty awesome. “Got your hopes up!” once the Galaxy scored. “You’re going home on a combine harvester!” when one of their players hit the deck. What a classic.
August 9, 2003. The Galaxy beat the Crew, hurray. And Carlos Ruiz scores the best goal for far in the history of the stadium – a bicycle kick Michelangelo could have sculpted. The reaction from 138 was instantaneous, heartfelt, and reminiscent of ECW. As one, the Riot Squad began to chant, “Holy fucking shit! Holy fucking shit!”
September 3, 2003. The Galaxy scheduled a friendly against the People’s Republic of China. The Riot Squad has a banner day – highlighted by Shooter wearing a Tibet National Team jersey, personalized to read “Pimp” in Mandarin. Instant classic chants: “Shitty wall, shitty wall, shitty wall” and “We all cheer for basic human rights, basic human rights, basic human rights.”
The game was one of the worst ever played by adult human beings, though. It was so bad, that those who attended decided to report back on the boards that, despite the 0-0 score, it was one of the most amazing games in history. A merry time was had, lying about the near-misses and astounding saves, until someone read an actual news report.
October 16, 2003. Tommy Mack interviewed by LA City Beat about the Riot Squad. Alexi Lalas is also interviewed – “You’ve got to love people like the Riot Squad” – but since the team won’t allow any of their logos to be used, Tommy ends up on the cover. Amazingly, LA City Beat does not immediately go out of business.
November 9, 2003. Booze Bus III – vans this time, so Sidio wouldn’t lose as much money. The Squad meets in front of what we believe to be a porn studio. It probably wasn’t, but it makes a much better story.
The theme for this trip was “urine.” For you see, the vans did not come equipped with the bathrooms that coach buses had. Nor were we supplied with drivers who timed regular stops. So Riot Squaders were at the mercy of drivers who, invariably, did not have to go when everyone else on the van did. So there was some, how can we say this delicately, improvisation. Basically, if you’re ever driving with Stopper or RobertTheBruce, and they want to pull over to a gas station or a rest area? They’re serious.
Oh, and if you ever are offered to sample vintage California wine grown in spring 2004, consider extremely carefully. We didn’t always stop at rest areas. Some poor vintner got a little extra zip in his grape crop that season.
Dude Love thought it would be funny to make a sign that read “We Are Scott, You Are Laci.” Oddly enough, the locals were something less than extremely amused.
This was the playoffs, and therein hangs a sad, sad tale. For you see, this was the worst day in the history of the human race. This was the second game of the playoffs, and the fourth consecutive time the Galaxy were playing the Earthquakes. Since San Jose had locked up the division, and the Galaxy had bumbled into fourth place, the series had been set far enough in advance to plan the Booze Bus for the playoff game instead of the regular season game. So far, so good.
The Galaxy ended up rolling the Earthquakes in the first game, 2-0. Carlos Ruiz and Troy Dayak fought at halftime of that game, and Ruiz responded with two goals. With Pescadito raging, the Galaxy were the best team in the world, everyone knew that. San Jose’s regular season success was meaningless. The defending champions had seemingly overcome their complacency, and were turning it on when it counted. So far, so better.
So in the first half of the return game in San Jose, the Galaxy added two more goals. So far, perfect. The Earthquakes were done. Done like dinner.
And then the Galaxy performed the biggest choke in the history of association football.
You can look it up. No team has ever blown a four-goal advantage in a two-game series. Even Liverpool, when they won the Champions League a few years ago, only spotted AC Milan three goals.
The whole park could feel the game slipping away. Everyone except Sigi Schmid, who kept Hong Myung-Bo in the game despite his doing a perfect impersonation of a doorman, while Alexi Lalas languished on the bench. The Quakes made it 2-2 by halftime, and 3-2 very early in the second half. Then, in the ninetieth minute, the Quakes forced the tying goal – Chris Roner, whose MLS career was about as long as this sentence, and who had been in the game for all of a freaking minute. Oh, and every Quake goal was pretty much taken from six to ten yards away, something that didn’t happen back when we had central defenders who didn’t turn their back on oncoming forwards.
They won in overtime, of course. Then it started to rain, because even God was sad for us.
Revenge and then some for the Supporters Shield from the year before. It would, amazingly, impossibly, astoundingly, get even worse for the Riot Squad in San Jose. In the meantime, we consoled ourselves with the comforting thought that Sigi Schmid would be fired, and replaced with the very best coach available.
November 23, 2003. MLS Cup at the Home Depot Center. San Jose Earthquakes against the Chicago Fire. As you can imagine, the Riot Squad was about as up for this game as the decaying corpse of Karen Carpenter. Debut of the heartfelt chant, “We don’t give a fuck who wins, doo dah, doo dah,” which would come in handy a year later.
So we’re trashing players pretty much at random, the Riot Squad being rage and bitterness in human shapes at this point. Chicago Fire defender Jim Curtin is a target. We get some sharp glares from Section 136, and see a couple roughly in their forties, the blonde wearing a Fire jersey with Curtin’s name and number. We conclude, correctly, that these were Jim Curtin’s parents. We do the Korea cheer, only with “Curtin’s mom” in place of “Galaxy.” Mr. Curtin was proud, Mrs. Curtin flattered but embarrassed.
Naturally, the fucking Quakes won. Even seeing Ante Razov gag like a maggot on a penalty kick fails to cheer us up.
One positive note, though. The Chicago Fire fans came storming into the north end of the Home Depot Center complete with flags, which had been banned all year by the front office. “Hey, wha?” we asked. Peter Wilt, then the Fire GM, was the man who made it happen, insisting that Galaxy manager Doug Hamilton was responsive to fan wishes as well as being a terrific human being. Hamilton really detested us, though, and the following year it would get even worse. It would take a truly detestable enemy to unite us.
April 3, 2004. Opening day featured a tribute to Austrian legend Andreas Herzog. Specifically, the section was full of plastic Alpine hats. Except for Shooter, never one for half-measures – he went and bought a real one.
Some were shocked that Herzog was given the number 10 of Mauricio Cienfuegos, but someone had to have it. Herzog earned the number not simply with sweet free kicks and assists, but also by charging something like forty yards down the field to get in the middle of a brawl. Steve Sampson would later bench him for no particularly good reason, but he was a legend for half a season.
April 10, 2004. Freddy Adu comes to the Home Depot Center, and inspires, indirectly, the most notorious chant in Riot Squad history.
Adumania was in full swing at this point, and the place was packed with adoring kids. Young, impressionable kids. With parents who weren’t all that thrilled with some of the Riot Squad’s chants. A year of disappointment, followed by a cruel playoff exit, an intolerable MLS Cup, and a highly unhappy off-season, made the Squad a fairly salty place indeed, you see.
So one of the staff was dispatched to ask the Riot Squad to stop chants that contained the words “fuck,” “shit,” or “ass.” We nod politely, and the guy leaves.
The guy is barely on the stairs when Chalky suggests a new chant – “Fuck, shit, ass! Galaxy!” It proves an immediate, runaway hit.
Now, this chant is now Officially Frowned Upon, since it drove the front office absolutely bugfuck. It’s still a sentimental favorite, but let’s face it, it’s more trouble than it’s worth. We can’t keep throwing pretzels on the field hoping to recreate a John Spencer moment, and we can’t recreate the magic of saying “Fuck, shit, ass! Galaxy!” to a stadium full of shocked parents.
What also didn’t win the hearts and minds of parents was our reaction to the kids cheering Adu as he left the field. “You were adopted!” was the chant, which hey, at least was broadcastable.
April 24, 2004. Ryan Suarez clears a certain goal off the line, saving the day for the Galaxy. He would do this roughly a billion more times this year, on the way to winning LARS POTY.
May 22, 2004. Another Booze Bus. Wow, we were gluttons for punishment. By far the highlight of the game was when “Q,” the crappy-ass lame ball of balls mascot, decided to stroll through the Galaxy fan section. Shaggy and Twigg gave him a few vicious punches in the kidneys. Girl In the Dirty Shirt got a handful of the thing’s hair. Well, it was tinsel, but still, it was a trophy.
June 23, 2004. What kind of season was this? Metrostars 3, Galaxy 0. Made that China game look like the 1970 World Cup Final. This was the debut of the plaintive, sad, poignant, but funny, “Follow the sound of my voice!” chant.
June 27, 2004. So, Random Mayhem moves to Chicago, but he misses the Riot Squad. He gets the bright idea to have a road trip for the Fire game. Heck, he’d even put the guys up in his apartment.
The actual game was one of the hilarious classics in Galaxy history. Henry Ring charges out way too far for a clearance, it falls to Jovan Kirovski around the halfway line, and Kirovski lofts a rainbow something like sixty yards into the goal. 1-0 to the Galaxy.
This road trip was the Squad’s answer to Woodstock – if you can remember it, you weren’t there. Since the Earthquakes were even at this time a doubtful long-term proposition, Chicago became sort of the new official Riot Squad road trip.
The other highlight was the pickup game between the Riot Squad and Section 8. Depth pretty much decided this, since only eleven Squaders ended up making the trip.
The other other highlight was The Snow Beast on the el train, loudly talking about who his favorite Nazi was. It turned out to be Erwin Rommel, who was a fairly good choice. Tried to rebel against Hitler, forced to kill himself – wasn’t like The Snow Beast was talking up freaking Goering.
August 14, 2004. Sigi Schmid was finally awarded the Order of the Shitcan. The Galaxy were TECHNICALLY still in first place, but he’d clearly lost the team. The G’s had been useless and complacent for over a year now, and we needed a new direction. We were all looking forward to a new coach – a coach of respect and stature, who would lead our talented team to the glory it deserved.
Much, much sadder note. Chris Hinds, Riot Squad board nickname Whit-e, was killed that evening in a random shooting in a friend’s garage in Carson. Whit-e was a frequent and generous Riot Squad host, and in real life, he taught disabled kids. It was such a stupid, random, pointless thing that there’s no moral or lesson anyone can take away from it, except as a reminder to live a good life no matter what.
Stopper has done a lot to keep his memory alive, by sponsoring an annual golf tournament in his name to raise money for his children’s scholarships. As you’ve read so far, and will read onwards, we spend a lot of time on stuff that in the long run doesn’t matter, especially when you compare it to what a guy like Chris Hinds represented. But what the Riot Squad does is bring people together people and give them something to enjoy. If Whit-e had lived to see it, he would have been right along with us, screaming “Fire Sampson!”
August 18, 2004. Steve Sampson hired. The Riot Squad, and Galaxy fans everywhere, scream “Fire Sampson!”
August 21, 2004. The greatest sign in Riot Squad history, although you had to look quick to catch it. Plain white bedsheet, three simple yet important messages.
HORNS CAUSE CANCER
The last was the Bible verse quoted/adapted by Jules in “Pulp Fiction” (“I thought it was just a cold-blooded thing to say to a motherfucker before you popped a cap in his ass.”)
The first was a reference to general manager Doug Hamilton, who hated us. HAAAAATED us. Part of it was the whole “fuck, shit, ass” thing we had been doing all year, and the waves of complaints our behavior had caused. Part of it was our deteriorating attitudes – after years of success, the history of the team since October 2002 had been straight down the crapper. Unsurprisingly, the banner did not last long, and we were pretty much on double-secret probation.
The second part of the banner was a cause dear to the hearts of the Squad – plastic horns. Evil, disgusting, hateful plastic horns. As we said, plastic horns cause cancer. Not just any cancer – ass cancer. Really, painful ass cancer. Ass cancer that shows up like AIDS on the autopsy so your family has to guess what it was you were doing. Plastic horns also killed Jesus. When Gandhi was shot, his assassin carried a plastic horn. That picture of the little girl running away from the napalm in Vietnam? She wasn’t running away from napalm. She was running away from plastic horns.
Horns were only useful as beer bongs, but once you got above a certain level of quality of beer, let’s face it, you’re better off using a cup. One of the benefits of hanging around a group of soccer supporters is that your taste in beer goes up a lot. It’s like “Sideways” with more swearing. But we digress.
That banner was part of the campaign, but the real hero here was Shooter, who made several fliers and posters reminding Galaxy fans that HORNS CAUSE CANCER. Those golden fliers revealing the gospel started a groundswell that got the horns officially banned during the offseason. According to the front office, something like 40 percent of season ticket holders complained about them specifically, undoubtedly galvanized by those fliers.
Our efforts to ban the Wave, despite the catchy slogan “Waves Kill Indonesians!”, have not yet been as successful. But we will continue the good fight.
September 25, 2004. Real Booze Buses again this time, the last time that would happen, because after this trip, Galaxy fans really stopped caring about San Jose.
Turns out there’s a downside to unlimited uncontrolled drinking. By the time we got to a truck stop in Tracy, silly drunken macho rage burst out, and an ugly fight took place in the parking lot. The sheriff’s deputies arrived, and told the bus drivers, “You brought them here, you get them out of here.”
Talk about a buzzkill! The party atmosphere was pretty much done for at that point. How, how could things have gotten worse?
So we’re shown to midfield seats, which was unusual. Still, we decide to stand, like we did the other fifteen thousand times we were up there. Some local fans complain about our standing and singing and basic disrespect of the home team. So out comes law enforcement.
Basically, what went wrong at this point was that stadium security told fans in the front they needed to sit, while San Jose city cops in the back started dragging people out from the back – people who had no idea they had allegedly been warned to sit.
Then the San Jose city cops started swinging the billy clubs. Even local fans complained, and were pushed by cops for their trouble. It was an ugly incident that by rights should have been far uglier. About half the Galaxy fans were either thrown out or decided to leave in protest.
When some semblance of sanity was restored, former and future friend Alexi Lalas apologized, and asked the Galaxy fans to sit for the rest of the game. Cold comfort to those who had been handcuffed and marched out already, but it was the thought that counts.
And so there we were, after the game, and all we wanted to do was go home. As soon as the buses got back. Any minute now.
Turns out the bus drivers were entitled to eight hours of rest before driving back. And, since we made their lives difficult in Tracy, they weren’t about to do us any favors.
Shoved, beaten, abandoned, and cold. We were pitied by San Jose State university cops (NOT San Jose city cops, who can fuck themselves hard and without any love – you know, the kind of drunken groping where you can totally tell the other person is just lying there pretending you’re someone else), and allowed into the San Jose State athletics building, to be less slightly cold and uncomfortable. The place looked like a Red Cross shelter by the time we all filed in.
About ten years later, we finally got home. The longest trip of our lives.
And that was the end of the Riot Squad.
Even despite some photographic evidence, some people assumed that the stadium beatdown was started by the Riot Squad. Sure, there was a series of pictures of a guy in a blue shirt being shoved down by a female troglodyte in a cop outfit, and to our almost certain knowledge, none of us were wearing fucking Earthquakes colors. Yet people wouldn’t trust the words of people who had spent the whole year shouting “Fuck, shit, ass! Galaxy!” Go figure.
Fortunately, Tommy Mack had filmed the whole thing from the sidelines. Not to put too fine a point on it, the film showed the Riot Squad, despite the confrontational name, as cooperating with the police. It was the police who were out of control, swinging truncheons like we were a Whack-a-Mole game.
The footage was shown to the various front offices, and the Riot Squad was proven innocent as driven snow. Well, in Spartan Stadium, not at the truck stop, but that’s our little secret. Shh.
March 9, 2005. Former San Jose Earthquake midfielder stinks up the field for Bayer Leverkusen against Liverpool. Ha ha! Loser.
March 27, 2005. Landon Donovan indicates he would like to return to Major League Soccer, specifically the Los Angeles Galaxy. “Well, at least with Donovan and Ruiz, we’ll be pretty much unstoppable,” the Riot Squad says to itself.
March 30, 2005. Carlos Ruiz is traded to FC Dallas. “D’oh,” the Riot Squad says to itself.
.March 31, 2005 With a fanfare unprecedented for a Galaxy signing that didn’t end up being a total fucking schlub, Landon Donovan is presented with Andreas Herzog’s #10 jersey.
Donovan and the Squad have taken a little while to warm up to each other – like, how does “Not yet” sound? Loud squeals of anger and protest – totally justified, by the way – from the northern California area alleviates some of the mistrust. Anything those guys hate can’t be all bad, is the reasoning.
April 9, 2005. The Galaxy now boast Steve Sampson as coach, and Landon Donovan as star. They really should have found a way to keep Ruiz, so we could have had the three most hated men in American soccer all on one team. We’re plenty hated enough, though, based on the nationwide horse laughs that followed the drubbing we took in Columbus the week before.
Some white guy wearing #10 scored a couple of goals against Real Salt Lake, though, and won most of the crowd over. Gunner takes advantage of the new green and gold banners adorning Section 138 to make an impromptu slip ‘n slide. Down twenty rows, did Gunner slide. It was a sight to behold. He tried it again, tumbled off, and cut his whole freaking head open. He survived, so it was funny.
April 10, 2005. Oh, my God. Reserve games. They have reserve games now. And you’re, like, right on top of the action. And the players can totally hear you. Unbecredible. Radawesometastical. Reserve games are like, a pushy fan’s biggest wet dream come true in all history. Real Salt Lake benchwarmers and scrubs are the first victims, but the real fun was yet to come. Man, reserve games rule, YEAH they do.
April 16, 2005. Tommy Mack goes to see Chivas USA play FC Dallas at the Home Depot Center, wearing the Dallas Burn gear that had avoided the flames back in 2002. Soccer fan Drew Carey sees him from the luxury box, and invites him to join his suite. This was a fateful meeting.
Carey really should be in 138, wearing some sort of Beatle wig so we don’t hassle the poor guy, but we understand why he doesn’t. No way we’d actually be cool about it – we’d be forever asking the guy to buy us beer. Or cars and homes. Dude is loaded like a Kalashnikov, my friends. You may think David Beckham has bucks, but there’s nothing like creating and starring in a big network and syndication TV hit to make one fabulously well-to-do. Maybe Phil Anschutz has more bread, but Drew’s got a pretty big bakery going on.
Anyway, Carey would later do a TV special of his travels to the World Cup. He would butcher the “You Can Never Rest Easy” anthem, but he would also call the Riot Squad the world’s greatest supporters group.
Okay, fine. We might not actually be the world’s greatest supporters group. We may not even be the world’s second greatest supporters group. But we are the sexiest.
By this point in the story, in fact, several of LARS JR. would be making regular appearances. Children of current Riot Squaders, future carriers of the torch. And, we’re talking objectively here, not just opinion – these kids are just adorable. It’s a complete fucking mystery. The biggest gang of ill-assorted rogues and soccer bums in the country continually produce these ridiculously great-looking children. Maybe being in the Riot Squad magically improves your genes, or maybe we just clean up real nice. Don’t ask us why, we don’t know ourselves.
April 23, 2005. It would take an awful lot to bring the Hamilton front office and the Riot Squad together. And from the murky depths of evil crawled forth the abortionarium known as Chivas USA.
They had actually been announced way back at the 2003 All Star Game, but they took a while to decide where to play. Chivas USA Jorge Vergara demanded, and got, the Home Depot Center, vowing to drive the “gringos” out of business. “Oh, it’s ON, motherfucker,” Doug almost certainly did not say, but clearly could and should have.
Sure, the Riot Squad was great this game, but this was a Galaxy victory for every fan. The atmosphere in the Home Depot Stadium was utterly electric. The majority of the sold-out crowd were pro-Galaxy, and rock solid about it. The Galaxy players showed the heart to match their talent – something that hadn’t happened terribly often in the past two seasons – and thumped the suckers 3-0.
Nevertheless, the Riot Squad was pretty darned legendary. “Rent’s due on the first!” chant made its appearance – Peter Vagenas would later use it as smack during an interview. Shooter provided a goat piñata, the team provided those thunder-stick things from the Angels World Series (really from the Portland World Cup qualifier). Jamesey and Iamthatiam put the chocolate and peanut butter together, and sodomized the goat.
Chivas fans basically acted like we had desecrated the Virgin of Guadelupe, but that was simply the Fort Sumter of the rivalry. The bloody dead of Gettysburg and Antietam lay in the future.
April 24, 2005. Reserve game against Chivas USA. Call it fifteen Riot Squaders, but that was more than enough. Voices carried in the track stadium, and anyone who couldn’t start for the 2005 Chivas USA inaugural team wasn’t professional enough to tune out chants. The Riot Squad would file this knowledge away for future reference.
May 29, 2005. Game two of what was being billed as the Superclasico. When Pablo Chinchilla scores on you, you suck rat ass, and no error. “Hey, goat! Fuck you!” is the new official Riot Squad chant, and this time, the front office is fine with it. It is expected down the road that “Hey, Goat! Fuck You!” will be on the Galaxy crest, like “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is on the Liverpool badge.
This loss cost Thomas Rongen his job, for all the fucking good it would do Chivas USA.
July 16, 2005. Today was another peak in Riot Squad history.
Tommy Mack had this idea that after a goal, the Riot Squad would release inflatable dolls filled with helium, which would rise to the Home Depot Center roof and look like the Rapture. Drew Carey, author of “Dirty Jokes and Beer,” loved the idea of inflatable dolls. So, astoundingly, did the Galaxy front office, which had by this point adopted “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” to heart and soul.
The helium had to go, sadly. In its place, either Tommy or Drew suggested dressing the dolls as “Chiva Girls.” Oh, right, the Chiva Girls. How can we put this delicately – the Chiva Girls were the Chivas USA cheerleaders, but they looked like strippers not attractive enough to find work Saturday nights, even when surgically enhanced by stuffing silicone basketballs under their nipples. Chivas USA – where the men are women and the women are men.
Tommy had a devil of a time finding inflatable dolls that didn’t have big, gaping orifices – the front office was game for a laugh, but not that game. He and the Bardgal spent late nights spray painting red and white children’s wear to look like Chiva Girl outfits, and put them on the uninflated dolls. The task of inflating the dolls, absent helium, was left to the mighty lungs of the Riot Squad, hardened by years of screaming at strangers.
The result was the funniest god-damned thing ever. Fifty inflatable dolls dressed as Chivas USA cheerleaders, with various signs such as “Guzan’s Mom” – a reference to the hapless rookie goalkeeper.
It was ratcheted up to mega-awesome when someone figured out that the dolls’ legs could be used as impromptu thunder-sticks. Perfectly choreographed chants of “LA Galaxy!” followed by inflatable dolls legs taking the place of the five claps followed. The result was seriously the funniest god-damned thing ever.
But wait – for some reason, they weren’t being shown on television! Never fear, true believer. Herculez Gomez scored on the opposite end in the second half. Then, the man ran the entire length of the field to do a Lambeau leap into 138. Inspired, he grabs one of the dolls – the one labeled “Guzan’s Mom” – and gives it a kiss, before rejoining his teammates. It was absolutely without question the funniest god-damned thing ever. All caught on cameras and broadcast, to boot.
Herc would have two goals that game. Counting all competitions, such as the Open Cup – but we’ll get to that – Gomez led the entire United States in goalscoring, and was a runaway LARS POTY winner.
July 19, 2005. Why so much talk about Chivas USA this year? Because the rest of the year, we sucked ding-dong, that’s why. If it wasn’t for the expansion teams, we wouldn’t have made the playoffs. Failure to realize this would cost us down the road, but that’s down the road.
This was an interesting game, though. Real Madrid came to town, bringing along Zidane, Owen, Figo, and…midfielder, English guy. Damn. It’ll come to me.
AEG originally wanted to tell Galaxy season ticket holders to go pound sand, since this was the hottest ticket in town. But the front office stuck up for their customers. The downside was that the Riot Squad couldn’t have its own section. Instead, they were dispersed among ordinary fans.
Pando Ramirez by this point had turned out to be a laughable disappointment – Chalky had kept track of how many shots he had made without a goal, as if he were The Count from Sesame Street. By this time, it was about “Thirty-one! Ah ha ha ha!,” and if you remember Sesame Street, The Count never got much farther than ten, so the whole thing was completely ludicrous.
But Ramirez made his mark on Galaxy history, and nearly changed the course of world soccer, with a cheap shot on the legendary Zinedine Zidane in the first half. I mean, this was pure hackery. Pando missed taking out an actual bone or ligament, but not by much. In retrospect, given what the world would learn about his temper, it’s a wonder that Zidane didn’t take out a switchblade and kill Pando then and there.
Dude Love was just inexcusable this game. “You’ve got Siemens on your shirt!” and “You only cheer when you’re fascist” didn’t win any friends, to say the least. He then let out a string of conversational obscenities, only to be confronted by a man with a small child standing about two feet away. Dude Love was very apologetic, and the man decided not to break his nose.
Madrid won, of course. Wasn’t as close as the score. When Zidane and Owen were subbed out, they left the stadium entirely – no doubt in a hurry to enjoy the pleasures of Carson, California on a Monday night. David Beckham, on the other hand, stuck around to sign autographs. Why not – when was he going to be in Los Angeles ever again?
August 3, 2005: The Open Cup quarterfinal against Chivas USA, in the track stadium. The Riot Squad take their position directly behind Brad Guzan’s goal. And I mean, directly behind. Some of you have bedrooms that are bigger than the distance between us and poor Guzan.
Here are some things that are forgotten nowadays. First, it wasn’t all Brad Guzan’s fault. His defense that year was atrocious, I mean, just horrifying. There were guys on that field that had absolutely no business playing professionally, but Guzan wasn’t one of them.
Second – Chivas actually took a lead in this one. Twice – 1-0, then 2-1. They had never led before, ever.
But then, they completely fell apart. Herculez Gomez got the go-ahead goal just before halftime, and wow, did the Riot Squad – maybe all of ten feet away from Guzan – let fly.
So Chivas USA trudges off at halftime, Guzan relieved if a little unhappy about his defense. Jim LaScala of the Galaxy front office giggles to the Bardgal, “This is great! He has no idea what’s coming!”
The idea was not new. Back when the Chicago Fire played in Cardinal Stadium, Section 8 decided to follow Kevin Hartman over to the other side of the field for the second half. Since the Galaxy were nominal hosts, and since it was feasible to move the fans from one side to the other between halves, it was decided to give it a try.
It was glorious, of course. Chivas USA was as worthless as they had been all year, and they gave up two very late on defensive idiocy. Probably the worst night of Guzan’s life.
Chivas USA had a fucking cow over this one, demanding an inquiry into the Galaxy’s lack of sportsmanship. The USSF told them to eat a dick.
So warm and friendly was the front office with the Squad these days that Doug Hamilton himself palled around with us at halftime.
August 24, 2005. Galaxy won on the road. At San Jose – the Earthquakes would only lose one time at home in 2005, and this was that game. Knocked the fuckers out of the Open Cup, too. Herculez Gomez had both goals.
Post-Beatdown, the Riot Squad wasn’t much on San Jose trips, but it’s quality, not quantity. Iamthatiam sees San Jose assistant coach and franchise jackoff John Doyle, and makes some crack about him looking like David Hasselhoff. After the game, Doyle confronts two Riot Squaders – female ones – after the game, asking after Iamthatiam. Doyle has to be led away by security. This would get even better later.
September 10, 2005. POS game against the Rapids, “Fire Sampson” ringing out like the chimes of Big Ben. The Galaxy draw a penalty, and Pando Ramirez is given the mercy shot. Fucker hits the post, the ball bounces off Joe Cannon’s ASS, and into the goal. 1-0 for the Galaxy. We’re screaming and pleading for an own goal, but they credit it to Pando.
September 15, 2005. Open Cup semifinal, this time in the Home Depot Center proper. The Minnesota Thunder were the opponent. Riot Squader Seamonster had moved to the Twin Cities at this point – he managed to take photographs of Playboy centerfold Lindsey Vuolo wearing a Riot Squad T-shirt. You know, maybe Drew Carey’s right – we are the greatest supporters club in the world.
Anyway, Thunder fans made the trip, and had to watch their team get worked over. Herculez with a couple more goals. Minnesota knocked the Galaxy out of the Cup the year before, so it was all good. At least we’d be in ONE final this year.
September 28, 2005. Well, the place wasn’t packed, but it was our first trophy in three years, so that was fun. 1-0 to the Galaxy, and Herculez Gomez had the winning goal. Wow, where did THAT come from. Peach of a goal, too. A couple of Dallas fans had trouble bringing in an inflatable dinosaur, which struck us as ironic, considering the inflatables we brought in. That’s the last time we’ll have to think about Dallas this year, we thought, but at least we got a trophy. And we swept Chivas USA. Still a crappy year overall, but things would get better next year, once Sampson was gone.
For the first time in MLS history, the winning coach of the Open Cup is booed off the field. “Fire Sampson” would follow him to the end of his Galaxy career. To Sampson’s credit, he was always good-humored about it to fans.
October 15, 2005. The San Jose Earthquakes, having already clinched the Supporters Shield, roll up and smoke the Galaxy in the last game of the year. “Fire Sampson!” chants, constant throughout the year, ring throughout the sold-out crowd. The loss sends the Galaxy into fourth place, where we would actually have to face these same Earthquakes in the first round.
October 16, 2005. Final reserve game of the year. Iamthatiam is READY. He has a boom box playing the Knight Rider theme all game, and passed out lyric sheets so we could join in. After the game, Iamthatiam asks Doyle to sign a picture – of David Hasselhoff. Doyle replies, “How would you like to meet out in the parking lot, you little SHIT!” Iamthatiam, the picture of innocence, says, “What? I just wanted your autograph, Mr. Hasselhoff.” Doyle is led away by fans before he starts an incident. Even Earthquake players are a little appalled.
The moral of this story is – fuck you, John Doyle. You’re a disgrace to the game, and you have no business in our sport. The only thing you were good for is having Alexi Lalas take away your World Cup spot in 1993, and thank FUCK that he did. Lalas is a GM now, and who gives a shit what you’re doing. You belong stacking boxes at Troy Dayak’s fucking soccer shop in Tracy.
October 23, 2005. Approximately ten thousand fewer fans than last week’s sellout, and why not? The Galaxy suck. San Jose fans roll into town expecting a coronation. The Riot Squad trudges into the stadium expecting a funeral.
And some guy named Landon Donovan bones the San Jose Earthquakes like sushi-grade tuna. 3-1 to the Galaxy. The Quakes recall 2003, and anticipate a win the next week. All they need is a two-goal win to force overtime, a three-goal win to win outright. And they hadn’t lost in Spartan Stadium all year…well, once in the Open Cup, but that was a fluke.
October 29, 2005. The last game in San Jose Earthquakes history.
Bwa ha ha ha.
The crowd got hopeful in the first half, but the Galaxy hung tough for a change. Ned Grabavoy, of all people, got the tying goal, and everyone knew it was all over. Earthquake coach Dominic Kinnear, who had spent the entire week bitching and moaning about Herculez Gomez diving, refused to shake Herc’s hands. “Fine, see you in Houston,” replied Herc. He was already LARS POTY at this point – that was just the cherry on the cupcake.
The Riot Squad, braving a repeat of 2003 (if not a repeat of the Beatdown), basked in the sweetness of the revenge. “Houston Earthquakes!” was the chant of the day. San Jose fans came in all ages and colors to have their hearts broken that night – when some Earthquake children tried to cheer on the home team, the Squad retorted with “There’s no Santa!”
Look, it’s sad that any American soccer fan has to lose his or her team. There but for the grace of God, and all that. And it wasn’t because the Quakes weren’t supported – at least, when they played us.
On the other hand, fuck you. Fuck your team, fuck your stadium, fuck your players, fuck your coaches, fuck your fans, fuck your dumbass cops, fuck your shitty little suburb, fuck your whining, fuck your jealousy, and in case you missed it the first time, fuck you. We killed the Clash, we killed the Earthquakes, we’ll kill your next team, and the team after that. In conclusion, fuck you. Love, The Riot Squad. PS, fuck you.
November 5, 2005. The Rapids could have rolled us up and smoked us for all we cared – our work was done. But Shooter and Iamthatiam wouldn’t let that happen, as they cheered Landon and the Galaxy to another decisive win. Not that they saw it, as they were tossed out, pretty much for being themselves.
Fuck, we suddenly thought. We have to go to Dallas.
November 12, 2005. The Riot Squad by this point had a hard-won and fiercely defended reputation for churlish unfriendliness to other fans. Shooter got himself thrown out of the Supporters Bash, to the shock of everyone except anyone who knew him.
Not every Galaxy fan was familiar with the Metroplex, and many were dumbfounded as soon as they left the plane. DFW Airport is big, even by the standards of Californians used to driving long distances. Fortunately, once we got past the airport, all the roads were under construction, so that made it much easier to get to where we were going. Wait, no it didn’t.
Plano and Frisco are suburbs that make Carson look authentic and historic, but there were bright spots. Chalky told us all the gospel of Whataburger. There was an Irish pub that had Chimay on tap, even.
November 13, 2005. The Inferno are, individually and collectively, a wonderful supporters group. They did the best job of hosting supporters in a long time. Certainly much better than the last two years, when Los Angeles hosted and the Riot Squad couldn’t possibly have cared less. The Inferno brought out a wonderful tailgate, food, beer, music, the whole works.
The Riot Squad tailgated about, oh, fifty feet away.
See, here’s the thing. No neutral fan was cheering for us, certainly not your typical Dallas fan, who hated Landon Donovan, Steve Sampson and the rest as much as anyone else in the league. New England was the popular and sentimental favorite.
So we didn’t feel like gearing up for the game by hanging around people who wanted us to lose. We were INTO this. Sure, we had fluked our way in, we finished fourth, our coach sucked, blah blah blah. We still wanted to fucking win, didn’t we? That meant getting into character – we had ninety minutes of cheering to do. (Ha.) We didn’t come all this way to goof around like fools.
Well, most of us didn’t. As we passed by one of the practice fields, we saw last-minute practice for the halftime dancers. The Snow Beast snuck onto the field, joined the last row, and blended.
Seriously, he was great. It’s like he knew the moves, and had been practicing all week. He was Baryshnikov out there. He might have made it into the halftime show itself, if he hadn’t been a foot taller and had more facial hair than any of the other dancers.
After about five minutes, The Snow Beast was finally escorted politely off the practice field, ruining his chances of getting on the field. (Ha!) By that time, though, the Riot Squad had died laughing.
Roksteady showed up for the game in style – trademark kung-fu outfit, ready for business. Some local nuggets look at him and say, “What is that sushi stuff?” Roksteady, in one of the great comebacks ever, shoots back, “Sushi? This is chop suey, bitch!”
The next year, the Inferno would talk to the Dallas front office about what was christened “The Riot Squad factor” – when a group of noisy supporters are placed in a section filled with fans who are far less involved. Somewhere, California-based Real Madrid fans could sympathize. Apparently the Squad was abnormally obscene for Frisco, Texas, but it wasn’t as if the Galaxy were playing Chivas.
Herculez Gomez should have capped off his season with the game-winning goal in MLS Cup, but the fucking linesman blew the call, and fucking Eric Wynalda drew this line that belonged in fucking “Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist” agreeing with the call. The upshot was, New England realized that they were vulnerable, that they weren’t going to do any business whatsoever against Nagamura, Marshall and Ihemelu, and had to shut the store and hope for penalties.
Worked for Italy a year later, but not this day.
Sampson fucks up, of course, by substituting in Pando Ramirez. And he sucks. He’s slow, he’s out of position, he’s giving the ball away – he’s undoubtedly cost us the championship.
And then Matt Reis punches a Donovan corner kick right to him.
The next year, Revolution fans would see a goal scored in overtime, go totally bugfuck, and have their cheers shoved back down their throats. There’s no justice. The Revolution, forced to go forward, nearly get one back, but Ugo Ihemelu heads it to safety. He’d later tell Tommy Mack he tripped.
1-0 to the Galaxy. Steve Sampson wins the double.
It’s hard to pick a peak in the Riot Squad’s glorious history, but what follows was probably it. Don Jaime jumps down from the stands, climbs over the deceptively wide electronic signs, and invades the field. The Snow Beast and Chalky are right behind. Pitch invasion.
All told, over 50 Riot Squaders made their way onto the field. “What the hell are you doing here?” Kevin Hartman would ask The Snow Beast. Don Jaime would hoist Herculez on his shoulders. The PA asked would fans please remain off the field – while the Jumbotron showed pitch invader RobertTheBruce, complete with black cowboy hat.
The Riot Squad BELONGED on that field. This was our championship – we had so many great moments, and even when we didn’t believe in the team, we still supported them. With style and passion. Keep the Riot Squad pitch invaders off the field? They should have gotten rings and playoff shares.
At the hotel afterwards, the one and only Gato Hartman was celebrating, singing nothing less than “Riot Squad, We Are Here.” The MLS Cup itself was brought out, and we all got to pose with that huge, ugly trophy. Random Mayhem posed with the phallic MLS Cup trophy in a way to accentuate the phallusness of it, putting an end to that photo session. Gunner got into the private party as easily as he got onto the field – “The Riot Squad goes everywhere,” he later explained.
November 20, 2005 – a little celebration for the double winners back at the Home Depot Center. Cobi Jones is given a “Ten more years!” chant – and so decides to come back for the next year. Well, the good news is, he would win LARS POTY. The bad news was, well, next year would suck hard.
March 9, 2006. Doug Hamilton died at the age of 42, survived by his wife and young son.
Had this occurred a year earlier, the Riot Squad probably would have celebrated, crass as that sounds. The previous year, though, showed Hamilton at his best, from our point of view. Hamilton vanquished Chivas USA, and brought home a couple more trophies, to boot. He also allowed us to be ourselves, which is why 2005 was probably our best year.
It was bitter and ironic that the team would wear tribute patches to him during what would be their very worst year, but it did demonstrate his importance – without him, the team went into a tailspin. 2005 was great with him, 2006 sucked without him. Maybe that’s not an appropriate memorial to who he was and what he was about, but when the truth speaks for you, there’s no need for eloquence.
April 9, 2006. Reserve game against the Fire. Iamthatiam sees Zach Thornton walk by, and busts out with “Hey, Oprah, what’s up?” Thornton decides not to kill Iamthatiam on the spot.
April 15, 2006. Did I mention 2006 sucked? This game didn’t, but the cracks were showing. Chivas USA led late, and I mean late, in this one. The only thing that saved us was Legion 1908. After their goal, they launched a buttload of streamers at Kevin Hartman’s goal. So Gato complains, and takes his sweet time clearing them off – inadvertently or deliberately giving the Galaxy extra time at the end of the game.
You won’t read much more about Cornell Glen after this, but he got both goals to delay our first loss ever against Chivas USA. The winner was four minutes into stoppage time – exactly the amount of time that it took to clear off the streamers. Thanks, Legion!
Part two to follow stupid posting lenghs