CINCINNATI — More than 600 FC Cincinnati fans boarded flights to Seattle Thursday and Friday, each brimming with excitement as the club prepared to usher in a new era in Cincinnati sports.
FC Cincinnati will play its first Major League Soccer match against the well established Seattle Sounders on Saturday.
"You can't have a first game over again,” said Ryan Welch, creator of the FC Cincinnati fan page on Facebook.
“We are going to have the home opener. That's going to be a lot of fun, but this is the first major league soccer game. It's something you're going to keep your ticket from. It's something you can tell generations down the road," he said.
For Seattle-bound fan Melissa Bingle, this won’t be the only away match she will attend; she intends to make it to every one this season.
"I'm lucky that I do work from home and I do travel for work,” Bingle said. “So sometimes, I can make it a work trip and pleasure trip, so that's fun. Being able to be there for all of the games has just meant a lot to me.”
Bingle said she expects Friday’s early morning flight to be livelier than most.
"A big group of us are taking the same flight. It's going to be huge," Bingle said.
Expectations for the first match differ based on whom you ask. is predicting a win, but Bingle is more cautious.
“I think we’re just expecting to get there and get our feet wet. It would be great if we win, but I don’t think anyone is expecting us to kill Seattle,” Bingle said.
While fan loyalty of Cincinnati’s more established sports teams ebbs and flows, FC fans like James Dillaman said the fervor for the soccer club grew organically.
"I think it's a culture that goes more with soccer in general,” Dillaman said. “It's like the more rabid fans saying, ‘We chant, we march, there's smoke,’ and also I think it's because we own it -- we were there when it started."
Though he’s also a fan of the Reds and Bengals, Dillaman said there’s an extra feeling of ownership among FC Cincinnati fans.
“The fans really made it what it is. There’s nothing like being in Nippert on match day,” Dillaman said. “It’s wonderful -- the atmosphere is just amazing. I think it’s the best party in town and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”