AFTN MLS Tifo of the Month – February 2024

AFTN MLS Tifo of the Month – February 2024

A new MLS campaign is underway and some fans seem to have been busier in the off season than the stewards of their clubs.

In some ways that is probably not a bad thing because as the saying goes, “Football without fans is nothing”. The fan groups of MLS are one of the things that genuinely make the League special in the sporting landscape in the northern two thirds of North America. The US is the great melting pot and Canada a cultural mosaic and this is reflected in the diversity of influences within the supporter culture that has flourished as the League has grown over a period of almost three decades. These influences are seen in the corteos to the ground, the songs and chants that echo throughout stadiums and, perhaps nowhere more so than, in the visual displays created to lift their clubs to victory.

Personally, it is this form of visually supporting one’s club, or tifo, that helps set association football apart from all other sports. I highly value the creative process of conceptualizing, crafting, and deploying a meaningful and quality tifo. I also enjoy appreciating others who do the same. To that end, we are going to highlight those in MLS who share this passion with a monthly article, including naming one our ‘AFTN Tifo of the Month’.

These written expressions of praise (and probably some critiques) won’t always take the same form and will likely be impacted by the number and quality of displays that are put out there by groups but for this inaugural one, which follows the opening round of matches (plus Salt Lake hosting Miami), I have list of 10 observations. A top ten list if you will – with #1 being our Tifo of the Month for February 2024.

#10 DC United – 202 Unique, Buzzard Point Social, District Ultras, La Banda Del Distrito & Rose Room Collective

District Ultras have been responsible for incredible displays over the years of various shapes and sizes. However, they are mentioned here for not displaying anything except integrity… along with four other groups who support the League’s first “dynasty”. Collectively they released a statement indicating that they will not be providing organized support of their beloved club for the first four matches of the season as a protest to DC United’s pre-season partnership with the Saudi Government. The groups feel this association runs counter to the club’s stated values of, “Relentless, Deliberate, and Decisive”. So no drums, flags, banners or displays for while in the #ChicoStand.

#9 Charlotte FC – Tifo Fail?

The 62k+ crowd for their season opening 1-0 win over ManCity Lite, was impressive! What was less so, was what I can only find evidence of a not super successive placarding of the stadium (or supporter end?) with the club’s colours. If anyone has better images/video of what they were trying to accomplish, I’d love to see them.

#8 Nashville SC – The Backline Supporters Collective

The Backline is the umbrella organization that brings together Nashville SC supporters. This castle, or fortress (?), effort for their opening day goalless draw (vs. DeadBull Old Jersey) is a nice one. They appear to have a good rigging system in their soccer specific stadium that enabled them to hoist this castle cut out, without it having to be on a square or rectangular piece of material.

#7 FC Cincinnati – The Incline Collective

I believe this was created by the group that unites the long time and new supporters of the former USL club. Online, it got mixed reviews (I know most of the negative came from that other Ohio side ranking further up this list), but I usually appreciate an overhead and this one has nice artwork with a heart as the central image. The words are, “esta cuidad es tu familia”. This translates to “this city is your family”. Unfortunately, the Supporter Shield holders were held to a goalless draw against John Herdman’s Toronto FC.

#6 Austin FC

I am not sure which, or if all, Austin’s SGs were involved with this overhead that partially covered the centre section in their supporter block, but it is a bit like the blue and orange effort in Ohio. Once again, a heart is the primary visual, surrounded by the words, “Verde es un Sentimiento” – meaning Green is a Feeling. Sadly the home fans went home feeling blue as they were upended 2-1 by visiting Minnesota United.

#5 Los Angeles Galaxy – Angel City Brigade, Galaxians, Galaxy Outlawz & LA Riot Squad

Newer MLS clubs seem to have been able to unite their supporters into some form of collective unit that enables differentiation, while working toward a common goal (see the examples above). LA is an OG that still has some division within their ranks – exhibited by different locations in their stadium. For their home opener (are we calling this the Goldenballs Derby?), there was tifo in both the north and south ends of their ground. The LA Riot Squad did a phoenix rising from the ashes in club colours as an overhead. Meanwhile in the north end the three other groups there showed their unity with a stylized version of the club badge and their own logos rigged up centrally. Plus, they had two accompanying handheld word banners. They read: “En las buenas te queiro” and “En las malas te amo” – meaning, “In good times I love you.” and “In bad times I love you.” Taking a point from the traveling circus may have felt like a letdown but I think it will be a valuable one for them.

#4 St. Louis City

I am not sure if the was all the club, all the supporters, or most likely the two working in unison, regardless it is always nice to see this type of display coming out of MLS. It appears to have been a stadium wide mosaic, with the placard’s spelling out: Round 2: Fight! A nod to the club’s second season and their desire to pick up where they finished… at least where they finished in the league table. Kudos to Luz Pfannenstiel and his cohorts for building and filling their stadium to make something like this possible. All involved on the home side will be disappointed to have dropped two points to Salt Lake in this 1-1 draw.

#3 Columbus Crew – TIFOSWEAT

Columbus fans have a marvelous story to tell their children and grandchildren for generations to come. They were fortunate to be an original MLS team but have fought to remain one and have one of the new stadiums in the League. Prior to being Atlanta United 1-0, the MLS Cup holders celebrated their victory in December with a three-part rigged display that also honoured their previous two triumphs. It also encouraged their players to, “…RUN IT BACK”. They seem to be on the trot.

#2 Portland Timbers – Timbers Army

Adding to their massively impressive collection of displays (that predate their time in MLS), the Timbers Army pulled off another multi-part, front and back, rigged display. I am going to need someone to help with the reference here. I apologize for my lack of knowledge on it. Nonetheless, it is another quality effort from Lower Cascadia. Their club trounced Colorado 4-1 on the pitch, too.

#1 LAFC – The 3252

Losing finalists on their quest to win back-to-back MLS Cups, LAFC were spurred on by The 3252 to not be brought down. They overcame the Flounders in this game, 2-1. This display is based on the song, “You Can’t Bring Me Down” by Suicidal Tendencies. It may not only be a reference to not dwelling on losing the big match in 2023 but also a response to the League bringing down sanctions on them for their quality flare display during last season’s playoff run. That is how I view it, which is partly why it is our AFTN Tifo of the Month for February.


What do you think? Where have I erred? What have I missed? Feel free to comment here on wherever you found this article on social media. Also, please use #AFTNTotM to tag things you think we should review going forward.

Authored by: Zachary Meisenheimer

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