Green Party: Inside Austin FC’s thriving supporter culture
Born in Mexico and raised in the Rio Grande Valley, Rodriguez Lira is a Tigres fan by birthright; his mother attended Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León. As an adult he made Austin his home, however, and when MLS arrived, he felt called to go all-in on his new local team.
“That’s our kind of our thing – Los Verdes: Futbol y Comunidad [soccer and community],” said Rodriguez Lira, whose hair sports an ATX-green streak. “We have to think about all these communities, and what really Austin is, and all those people coming that don’t rally around UT [the University of Texas]. How do we get all these people together?
“Austin’s a great place to have kind of like a pilot of what a supporter group can be, just because of its nature of being inclusive and having caring people, and being able to be just be so diverse, and everybody wanting to be a part of something.”
Increasingly populated by transplants from across Texas and beyond, grappling with gentrification and other effects of that explosive growth, the River City was ripe for a unifying experience that could transcend those fault lines.
“It was a really good thing that the [Columbus] Crew didn’t get moved here, and we had more time to prepare and build from scratch,” said La Murga member Mateo Clarke. “Because I think that allowed us to have a really authentic supporter culture that started with people that were involved before we had a coach, involved before we had a DP [Designated Player]. And so kind of buying into that tree metaphor, planting the seed, letting it grow, letting it mature, I think it’s really important, vs. something that’s just transplanted and expected to do well.
“The south section is all the supporters, and I feel like that’s the most authentic cross-section of Austin culture you’ll find at any event in the city right now, truly,” he added. “But then on the west side, you have the suites, and a lot of corporate sponsorship, and that reflects this thing that exists in Austin, a lot of new tech influence, a lot of new money. And then I think on the east side, you have a lot of the more passionate soccer fans, supporters that want to watch the game from good seats. So you have it within the stadium, I think it represents the cross-section of Austin.”