The Carolina Challenge Cup was the final dress rehearsal not just for New York City FC, but also for the fellow expansion boys from Orlando. If Mix Diskerud is any indication, the appetizer bodes well for the main course.
[CLICK HERE for our recap of New York City's 3-0 victory over Charleston.]
What stood out the most on HRB's trip to Blackbaud Stadium, however, was the palpable, enviable passion and togetherness exuded by the fans of the host team, Charleston Battery of the third-tier USL.
New York City's struggles to cultivate and implement a foundation of supporter culture have been generally fascinating, though not without the occasional eye-roll. So, wouldn't a similar process undergone in a South Carolina town of 120,000 residents come with a far greater level of difficulty?
When the then-unknown Battery made a shock appearance in the 2008 U.S. Open Cup Final, the club put itself on the map and earned a fast-tracked spot in the USL. Their supporter base, rather impressively, more or less shot up out of the ground in similar fashion: they cloned their local chapter of the American Outlaws, and rolled all of its pre-existing members into two main Battery supporters' groups-- the Regiment and Queen Anne's Revenge.
All of the local Outlaws simply changed a couple of words to the songs they already knew, and VOILA! Charleston Battery supporter culture was born. Before the February 28th match against New York City, here are the Battery faithful in action:
Also, not long after the game started, this guy:
Also heard later on from this gentleman, following the same chant:
"REMEMBER THAT. I'M COMING BACK."
The Charleston team, however, did not come back once New York City opened the scoring. The veritable chasm of quality between the two sides was plainly apparent, and NYCFC's captain drove the point home as well as anyone.
Even Villa's footwork, Ned Grabavoy's savvy, and Mix Diskerud's world-beating swagger / immaculate hairdo were not enough to dull the spirits of the Battery supporters. Though the game ended with a 3-0 victory for New York City and a preseason trophy in the hands of Owen Coyle's new-look Houston Dynamo, the buzz is strong around Charleston's black-and-yellow.
We'll conclude HRB's preseason coverage with an uninterrupted eight-minute video capturing the Battery fans' initial march to the supporters' section in the east stands. Stay classy, holy city! As Johnny Cash said to Tom Petty, "You're a good one to ride the river with."
Special thanks to the Queen Anne's Revenge and Regiment supporters' groups for their hospitality, wisdom, and unbridled enthusiasm! Next time on HRB, we'll bring you all the video moments from Brown Bag Social Club's viewing party on Sunday-- the MLS season opener between Orlando City and New York's sky blues.