Full question: “Say you have a pile of frequent flier miles and a free weekend. What U.S. city or team would you travel to watch a soccer game? Bonus points for answers representing each U.S. league.”
This question was submitted by Jacob B.
Bonus points for every U.S. league? Which would incorporate, by my understanding, all divisions of USL, MLS Next, the NPSL, NISA, and the USL-W League, not to mention the Major Arena Soccer League and other indoor offshoots? That’s a tall task.
Right now, it’s difficult to give any answer that’s not some combination of Southern California. LAFC and Angel City are drawing big crowds at Banc of California and the LA Galaxy are still holding things down for fans with a taste for MLS originals. For lower league action, you can check out Los Dos, Orange County SC, a soon-to-be-realized Los Angeles team in MLS Next, and Cal United Strikers and the LA Force in NISA. And that’s just in and around LA.
A day trip down to San Diego can also put you in touch with the San Diego Wave, and the surprisingly ferocious support around one newer club, and one old institution: San Diego Loyal and the defending MASL champion San Diego Sockers.
Realistically, you can even pop down to Tijuana for a Liga MX match if you want. If you’ve got a free weekend, expendable income, and a determination to see as much soccer as humanly possible, flying into LA or San Diego and getting a rental car is the move for you.
If I was only going somewhere with the intention of seeing one team play, however, I’d probably go check out a Forward Madison home game. I know, that feels like an answer designed to be agreeable on the Internet. But it’s true, and here’s why: of all the teams that enjoy raucous atmospheres and cult followings in their respective cities, Forward Madison’s fans strike me as the least obnoxious. Everyone is going to be annoying about their team. That’s what happens when people care and I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing.
But I feel like a Forward Madison home game is my best shot at having a lot of fun, getting some lower league, small city charm, and being around a lot of people who won’t do something during or after the game that makes me have to go through a large cycle of cognitive dissonance whereby I must clear several mental conflicts of interest in order to enjoy a soccer game.
As a rule, I try not to take myself too seriously. And I think a soccer club that does the same is the place for me.