Today, soccer is a big part of American sports culture, and the sport's growing popularity has given rise to a soccer culture that is different from that of other countries. In this article, we will highlight the unique aspects of the sport's fandom in the country by showing three examples of fan culture in the MLS.
Atlanta United FC - The Golden Spike Ritual
The Golden Spike ritual is a unique tradition in Atlanta United's history. It is a ceremonial spike that is hammered into a wooden plank by the team's captain before the start of each home game.
The Golden Spike represents the strong railroad history of Atlanta and its importance to the city's growth and development. It also symbolizes the team's commitment to uniting the city and its diverse communities through soccer.
The ritual is typically performed in front of the supporters' section, known as the "Golden Spike Stand." The captain hammers the spike into the plank while the supporters chant and cheer in support of the team.
The Golden Spike was first introduced during Atlanta United's inaugural season in 2017 and has since become a beloved tradition among fans and players alike. It is a powerful symbol of the team's connection to the city and its commitment to success both on and off the field.
Portland Timbers - Chainsaw Celebration
The Portland Timbers' Chainsaw Celebration is a unique tradition that takes place at Providence Park after each Timbers goal scored at home games.
The tradition began in 1978 when the Timbers' groundskeeper, who also happened to be a lumberjack, would use a chainsaw to cut a slab off a large log every time the team scored a goal. The log was then displayed in the stadium as a symbol of the team's success.
In 2011, the tradition was revived by the Timbers Army, the team's passionate supporter group. Today, after every home goal, a member of the Timbers Army revs up a chainsaw and cuts off a slab from a log in the stadium. The slab is then passed around the stadium for fans to touch and take pictures with before it is added to a growing collection of goal slabs.
The Chainsaw Celebration has become an iconic symbol of the Timbers and their connection to the Pacific Northwest's logging culture. It also serves as a way to rally the fans and the team, bringing everyone together in celebration of a Timbers goal.
CF Montreal - The North Star Bell
The North Star Bell ritual is a unique tradition at CF Montreal (formerly the Montreal Impact) that celebrates the team's heritage and its connection to the city's shipping industry.
The ritual involves ringing a large brass bell that was salvaged from a shipyard in Montreal's old port. The bell was used to signal the end of a workday for the shipyard workers and was later donated to the Montreal Impact in 2011 by the Port of Montreal as a symbol of the team's connection to the city.
The North Star Bell is rung before each home game by a member of the Impact's Ultras Montreal supporters group. The bell's ringing is meant to rally the team and the fans and to symbolize the start of a new "battle" on the pitch.
In addition to being rung before each home game, the North Star Bell is also rung after every Montreal goal scored at home. The ritual has become a beloved tradition among fans and players alike, and serves as a powerful symbol of the team's connection to Montreal's history and its identity as a city with a strong maritime heritage.