CINCINNATI – FC Cincinnati fans have raised the bar for American soccer – not only in their sheer numbers, but in their passion and enthusiasm.
They march together to Nippert Stadium, beating drums, waving flags in the team's orange and blue colors, and chanting songs.
And they’ve never been more passionate and enthusiastic than now, knowing that a Major League Soccer bid is only a few days away and that in a few years they’ll be playing in a new soccer stadium to be built in the West End.
“We’re all a family, and that’s what is really important,” said Trent Hummel, a member of Die Innenstadt, one of the organized fan groups that gathered at Mecklenburg Gardens before Saturday night's game.
Other FC Cincinnati support groups include The Pride, The Legion, Queen City Firm and the Bailey Bast**ds.
Die Innerstadt translates from German as “inner city.” It’s fitting for a team that’s going to play in the West End.
The fans are devoted to the team and to the sport.
“I’m super stoked for the West End,” Yosief Tzeghai said before marching Saturday night. “What more can we ask for than an ownership group that’s willing to put up (its own money for a stadium) ... I think there’s a lot of qualms and pain points with other teams taking money away from the city.”
“Everyone is going to be able to hang out in OTR and the West End,” said Boston Brazzell. “It’s going to be exciting to have the team in the city and have them right there.”
Hummel, one of the drummers, says he likes being an FC Cincinnati fan because they’re all-inclusive.
“No matter who you work for, your age, you can come here and you can be equal. And we love that about FCC. No matter what your sex, gender, no matter what,” Hummel said.
At 8 years old, Daniel Ashley is among the youngest FC Cincinnati fans.
“I like cheering for the team and I like how the fans are dressed up,” he said.
Daniel’s dad, Colin Ashley, says he loves the passion of FC Cincinnati fans.
“There’s one thing I love about soccer in Europe is the passion behind it. This is what I’ve seen here with FC Cincinnati,” Ashley said. “Marching to the stadium, the flags, the drums ... I just love that.”
They marched Saturday night knowing that MLS Commissioner Don Garber is coming to town Tuesday for a “significant announcement about the future of soccer in Cincinnati.”
What else could it be?
Brazzell and Tzeghai see FC Cincinnati and pro soccer as the sport of the future.
“How about Cincinnati future-proofing the city? Hats off to the city council and the Mayor," Brazzell said.
“We’re hitting a finish line. But really, this is the start of something, right?” said Tzeghai.
They’re all grateful for the Orange and Blue.
“It’s the pulse of Cincinnati,” said Hummel. “Look at us. This is where we’re at. This is where we need to be.”