- Chinese Death Star: The moon cited as the perfect launch pad for ballistic missiles
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- We are not amused: Queen’s protection officers warned to keep ‘sticky fingers’ off the royal cashews
- Unleash the crossbows: Gov. Scott Walker creates new hunting season
- Bubonic plague kills 20 in Madagascar
- G-20 diplomats fell for hacker attack promising nude photos of former French first lady Carla Bruni
- Minnesota guardsman charged with stealing private soldier data for fake IDs
- Florida appeals court rules universities can’t regulate guns
- Vladimir Putin defends Russian conservative values
- Tea Party Patriots call key GOP firing a declaration of war
In the trenches with soccer’s craziest fans
Question of the Day
The two old friends are asked what separates their group from the Screaming Eagles.
“The Barra is more organic,” Faulkner says.
“We’re a little more laissez-faire,” Matt adds. “When you stand out from the crowd, you tend to stand together.”
Tailgating with La Barra is like attending a potluck supper in Haight-Ashbury - booze and food are free for anyone who brings something to share. For one member on this particular game day, that means siphoning vodka into a watermelon and attaching a sign that reads, “Ask your parents first!”
Soutoudeh’s Screaming Eagles are a tad more upscale. Nonmembers pay $6 for an all-you-can-eat feast that includes dumplings, tiramisu and other delicacies outside the boundaries of normal tailgate fare.
“We try and have a good mix between family-friendly and urban hipster,” says Sotoudeh, a lawyer for Transportation Security Administration “We are a full-service operation.”
La Norte, founded in 2001 and still developing, has a much younger contingent. Leader Dougg Jimenez and his cronies pride themselves on the large bass drum they pound unceasingly and harassing the opposing goaltender from the north corner of the stadium. Membership dwindled after the arrival of the Washington Nationals eliminated the seats directly behind the goal. According to Jimenez, a mohawked Salvadoran, the group is growing again and is aided by curious fans who walk up and join the fray as the game progresses.
As game time nears, Sotoudeh fires up his troops by crushing cans of Red Bull under his feet. In the distance, La Barra Brava members in board shorts play beer pong and voice their desire to see a certain anatomical misfortune performed on the Red Bulls.
Before the procession into the stadium begins, Screaming Eagles scramble for the port-o-johns. Members of La Barra make a bee-line for the Anacostia.
Armed with road flares, “Hooligan” serves as parade torchbearer, and the groups blend together as they enter RFK. Only a narrow staircase divides the Eagles’ “Nest” in Section 134 from La Barra’s base in 135, and together they form a bastion of black and red that bounces, rollicks and roars for the next hour and 49 minutes.
“We are all here to support the team and leave it on the field,” says Zambrana, who spends most of the match leading chants he remembers from his boyhood in Bolivia.
“All soccer fans should be united,” Sotoudeh says. “Heck, it’s the name of the team.”
Perhaps no one exemplifies that unity better than Tim Sheetz, one of a handful of fans who swear allegiance to both groups.
Sheetz, who lives in the District, began following United as a member of La Barra, with whom he met Srdan Bastaic, the creative Croatian who makes La Barra’s flags and banners. Bastaic inspired Sheetz so much that he combined his love of art - he earned a bachelor of fine arts in theater design from East Carolina - with a passion for soccer. He has since become such an expert in what soccer fans call “tifosi” - Italian for “supporter”- that Sotoudeh asked him recently to become the Screaming Eagles’ artist in residence.
Name any political, historical or biblical figure and there’s a good chance they have graced one of Sheetz’s signs. He has made banners featuring the Virgin Mary (“She’s with United tonight!”), D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty (“Keep United in D.C.”) and Capt. James Lawrence (“Don’t Give Up the Ship!”).
About the Author
By Matt Kibbe
The short-term deal will assure long-term overspending
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- Comma on!: Twitter erupts over Obama-Castro 'marriage'
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- All-out war breaks out in GOP over budget pact
- White House faces press revolt over access to Obama's South Africa flight
- MALCOLM/REIMER: Over-criminalization undermines respect for legal system
- GOP Rep. Tim Murphy rolls out mental health legislation
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Selfie at heart of Obama fiasco to stay secret
- Biden guarantees victory on immigration reform
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Chef Mary Moran discusses the food we eat, where it comes from and what it does for us.
An informed and often humorous take on the world of advertising, public relations and social media. 100% Pure. Not from concentrate.
Does it take over 25 years in public service to really know what goes on in Washington?
NFL junkie Eric Golub reports on his favorite obsession. There is no football offseason. Every February he pretends to care about other sports while sobbing uncontrollably each Sunday until September.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow