Sgt. Chris Cognac, who works for a South Bay Police Department, is also a food, wine and travel writer for the Daily Breeze and hosted “The Hungry Detective” on the Food Network. Cognac is a season ticket holder for the L.A. Avengers Arena Football team and will soon become a Chivas USA season ticket holder. In this guest post, he explains how he discovered his love of soccer and why he spurned the Galaxy for Chivas USA.
I was raised in Torrance and like a typical teenager in the 1980s I loved football and wrestling.
I didn’t really care much for soccer. I wouldn’t take time out of my busy teenage schedule to watch a game (besides, there weren’t many girls there).
I remember my disdain for the fact Cal State Dominguez Hills was going to allow a soccer stadium to built on campus for a sport that like 50 people watched. I mean, where was I going to see Lollapalooza now!
While I had an outward disdain for soccer, I was secretly impressed by the likes of Cobi Jones and Alexi Lalas, who ran so fast his wild red hair would streak back like his head was on fire.
Still, while soccer was cool for all those English dudes, this was California.
Then 2008 came along, I was fat from filming for the Food Network and needed to do something else besides eating in restaurants, so I became addicted to Arena Football and the Los Angeles Avengers. Well, that season ended (not well I might add) and I needed a “fix.” I had to find a sport to love, to scream at the top of my lungs in support of, to obsess over the players, to bond with the fans and become “part of”.
And, oh yeah, it had to be affordable for my family of four, just like Arena Football.
Beckham, Beckham, Beckham – all I heard about was David Beckham. Maybe I should just go check out this soccer thing at Home Depot Center.
Well, I clicked on the Galaxy Web site and saw that a family four-pack was $100 bucks for four tickets and four hats. I wasn’t into soccer that much to spend a “Hundy” for a game.
Then I discovered Chivas USA also played at Home Depot Center and for $58 I could get four tickets, four hats – and four hot dogs. I couldn’t click fast enough to order – but I couldn’t figure out the stupid online ordering thing.
Enter the most important guy in my Chivas USA world – ticket rep John Santos.
John set me up with tickets and answered my important questions:
*Is the game announced in Spanish or English? (Both, it turned out).
*Are there fights in the stands? – I had seen English soccer riots on TV. (He assured me that Chivas USA games are family friendly and I would have a good time).
I bought the “coolest looking” jerseys in MLS and went with my wife, Martha, and the boys. Game time came and before I knew it, I was cheering along with the Union Ultras yelling “Chivas USA, Chivas USA” at the top of my lungs. My adrenaline was kicking in, my wife and boys were screaming and I realized – what was this? – I was screaming for soccer. And loving it!
Like a giant tuna, I was hooked. And when they scored and the announcer yelled GOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLL!!!, I began making plans for a return to Home Depot Center to cheer on Chivas USA again!!
I managed to get to a Galaxy game a short time after and while it was OK (Landon Donovan is amazing), it just didn’t “do it” for me.
I mean, it’s so “West side.” The crowd just does not seem to get into the game like a Chivas USA crowd does.
You get lots of “snooty” looks from the “don’t you know who I am” type crowd (no, I don’t know who you are and you don’t know who I am, so we are even). We all felt the “vibe” and felt like outsiders.
When we are at a Chivas USA game my family feels like we are truly part of the “international” crowd of soccer with drums, chants and horns. It’s very worldly. I feel part of something bigger – and not that I just came to see Beckham.
I have been to CONCACAF Champions League and SuperLiga games with my boys rooting hard for Chivas USA.
Seeing my favorite players like Ante Razov, Sacha Klejstan, Paulo Nagamura and Jim Curtin (that dude works hard!) became so exciting. I am a soccer “junkie.”
Then today I went to the HDC box office to get some Galaxy tickets, since I needed something to do on Saturday.
I was told by the box office that the least expensive ticket available was $42! Wow – I wasn’t about to pay almost $200 bucks for four tickets to watch the LAST PLACE team lose yet again.
I looked behind me and saw the Chivas USA players walking out the door and down the sidewalk to practice. I asked one of them, “are your practices open, can I watch?”
“Sure,” they replied, so I followed them down to the field and from about 10 feet away, observed these athletes practicing. For them, it seemed to be about “love and passion” for the game. They all had smiles on and great attitudes about practicing. Impressed and tired from just watching them, I took that as a sign from the gods that I was destined to be a Chivas USA fan!
I wish them luck for the rest of the season and hope that I can take my family to watch them in the playoffs and MLS Cup (hear that Galaxy?). Destiny and good value brought us together.
If you have not gone to an MLS game, check out Chivas USA.
Oh, and did I mention that the Chivas USA mascot “Chiva Fighter” is about the coolest mascot ever – plus he gave my seven-year-old the scarf he was wearing. (How great is that!)
Now where do I get red and white paint to make stripes on my face for the next game?
See you in the end zone section!