Stand, Cheer...and Bounce: The Fervent Fans of D.C. United


No show on coming out to play would be complete without a little sports action, right? So let's talk soccer. Here in Washington, our professional soccer team is D.C. United. It's considered to be the most successful team in major league soccer history. And much of that success can be attributed to, well some pretty kicking players through the years, but it also could be attributed to something else, some pretty kicking fans.


United fans have banded together to create these supporters clubs. Some with membership number in the thousands. And once you join, you're required to stand, cheer, sing, chant, drum, even bounce in unison during every game. Jerad Walker attended the United home opener against Columbus this past weekend and spent some time with some pretty die-hard fans.


D.C. United's most fanatical fans have formed supporters clubs. With names like the District Ultra's and Screaming Eagles. Their goal, to inspire their team toward victory. Along the way, they've also created a tailgating culture that is unparalleled in the region. And that's where I'm meeting Jay Igiel of the supporters group, La Barra Brava.


Man, I've been to Redskins games, I've been to Capital's games. And this United experience, it's superior to everybody else. You'll not find a more passionate fan base in any other sport in this United.


It's a typical member of the Barra Brava.


We are republicans, democrats, attorneys, judges, U.S. marshals, labor union leaders, teachers. La Barra Brava is everybody. Anywhere you go in D.C., your security clearance or what you do for a living matters or what political party you associate with matters. La Barra Brava, nothing else matters except your support of the team. White, Hispanic, African-American, liberal, conservative, no one cares. The only thing that matters is supporting D.C. United. And to me that's one of the best things about the Barra and it's magical about the Barra that it brings together so many diverse people.


I am Paul Sotoudeh and I'm the President of the Screaming Eagles. They were founded actually in 1995, which is a year before the league started. Matt Mathai, who was our founder and first club President, called up Kevin Payne, who was the only employee of D.C. United at the time. He was sitting in an office in New York, basically said, how can I help? And the rest was history. He wanted to form a supporters club. He wanted to bring that supporter's culture that exists around the world to the United States. And I think we're a big part of that now.


I'm Jeff Howdeshell, Screaming Eagles. I'm the Vice President, also I run the tailgates. In the supporters groups or that's where the energy is. That's where the rubber meets the road. That's where the, you know -- and if you're out here for a while, you'll see the owner of the club walk through. So when you see something like that, you can't not help but like the team. And like what's going on.


And Jeff isn't kidding. D.C. United owner, Will Chang, makes an appearance at almost every home tailgate. Well, you don't typically see American sports team owners out in the parking lot with fans before games. What brings you out here?


I think the fans who really understand the soccer culture in Europe or in South America, really bring that feeling and the passion to the game, to our stadiums and that's what I really enjoy. And that's why I like to be out in the tailgate and sometimes when I have the opportunity, I'm out in the stands jumping out and down with the fans.


On this night, United win their home opener against Columbus, 3-1 with goals from forwards Josh Wolff and U.S. National team star, Charlie Davies. This is Davies first professional game since a horrific fatal car crash in October of 2009, left him with numerous broken bones, head trauma and severe internal injuries. A visibly emotional Davies speak with me after the game.


The support was overwhelming. And once that final whistle blew and I looked at the fans, I lost it emotionally. Because their support meant so much to me and, you know, throughout this whole process of me coming back as a player, they've stuck with me. You know, from the beginning to the end until now. So, you know, this is just the beginning. So I got to keep that in mind and not, you know, get to high about this moment. But, of course, it's a very special moment for me.


I'm Jerad Walker.


You can see photos from Jerad's day with the fans and get the lowdown on United Supporters clubs on our website
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