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MLS: where the standing fan is fast becoming king

Los Angeles FC are the latest team to announce standing areas for their fans, and it is a trend supporters on the other side of the Atlantic will note

Fan culture in Major League Soccer isnt always considered to be the most authentic. That comes with the nature of the competition, in its franchised form, but thats not to say fan culture doesnt exist in North American soccer. This season, safe standing has become a part of that culture, with Orlando City leading the way (sometimes in very … expressive ways). Others, such as Atlanta and Minnesota United, are following their lead.

In what has quickly become typical fashion for Los Angeles FC, a much teased announcement on Saturday confirmed that MLSs glitziest club without a team will also have a standing section of their own at their new stadium to help create an electric and unified stadium atmosphere on match-days. It was not an original part of the plan (although standing areas had been mooted), but LAFC presumably saw how a standing section has energised Orlando City and crowbarred it into their own blueprint.

Indeed, Orlandos new downtown stadium has set a new standard for fan culture in North American soccer, with its standing section dubbed The Wall in homage to the yellow variant found at the Westfalenstadion demonstrating just how good things could be for fans across the league. Of course, theirs wasnt the first standing section in MLS, with the San Jose Earthquakes Avaya Stadium built with a 600-capacity standing area, but Orlando City have raised the bar significantly when it comes to match-day experience in MLS.

And so LAFC will seek to follow that example. It should be noted that the idea of a standing section at the Banc of California Stadium isnt the most natural of fits. Standing sections are deemed a manifestation of authentic, grassroots fan culture, but that somewhat goes against the grain of the luxury bars, hospitality suites and rooftop pools being built by Los Angeles FC. But the fact that they have altered the construction of their new ground at such a late stage to incorporate safe standing underlines the impression it has made on soccer culture in the States.

Elsewhere, the clamour for English clubs to build standing sections of their own has never been greater, with the Sports Grounds Safety Authority granting a request from the Football League to permit rail seating in grounds that are not subject to all-seater requirements and discussions taking place at Premier League level last November. LAFCs construction of a safe standing area in a highly commercialised, modern environment, as one finds in the Premier League, will likely interest plenty on the other side of the Atlantic.

Stat(s) of the week

10– Thats the number of goals and assists Romain Alessandrini has for the LA Galaxy this season, with the Frenchman contributing one of the latter in his sides 2-1 win over Minnesota United on Sunday. Galaxy have turned a corner of late, going four games without defeat, and Alessandrini has been a significant part of that turnaround.

19 – Sacha Kljestan was installed as the creative hub of the New York Red Bulls almost as soon as hed joined the club, but the US international is somewhat carrying his teammates at the moment. Not only is he averaging more key passes per game (3.2) than any other play in MLS, but he is also leading the way in the number of set-piece chances created (19).

12– Some questioned whether David Villa could repeat the feats of the 2016 season, but his brace in New York City FCs impressive 3-0 away win over Orlando City underlined how the Spanish legend is still one of the most formidable forces in the league. Villa now has 12 braces as a NYC FC player, and with eight goals in 11 appearances in 2017 he is still the most effective frontman MLS has.

Quote of the week

In my opinion, I think that we as coaches need to do a better job in respecting our opponents after performances, said Jason Kreis after Orlandos home loss to NYC FC, simmering over comments made by Patrick Vieira, claiming his side were the better team in two previous defeats to the Central Floridians.

Video of the week

LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy)

What. A. Finish. #MINvLA pic.twitter.com/WcOstH8ayq

May 21, 2017

The caption says it all.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/may/22/mls-standing-areas-los-angeles-fc

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