They crisscrossed the crowd multiple times on Thursday night. Dressed in black, wearing the new LAFC hats with the winged LA logo that were ubiquitous in the crowd, Mia Hamm and Nomar Garciaparra were easy to spot if you were looking, but they also blended in well at the party to celebrate the unveiling of LAFC’s crest and colors at Union Station.
At one point, Hamm, one of the best soccer players in history and known for her shyness, snuck into a private area. Moments later, a couple of fans at the party came looking for her.
“Where did she go?” one of them asked.
“Over there,” I pointed, to a room.
“Oh, I wanted to get a selfie,” he responded before walking away.
Selfies were prevalent throughout the evening, as owners Hamm and Garciaparra, as well as Tom Penn and Henry Nguyen, were in attendance. Several former players, including Alexi Lalas, Eric Wynalda, Kyle Martino and Stuart Holden also mingled with fans and took photos with supporters at the party. It was a rare night when fans of a club that doesn’t even field a team yet got to hang out with some of the movers and shakers in American soccer.
Plus, there was tons of brand-new LAFC merchandise for sale.
The LAFC party came on the heels of Thursday morning’s reveal of the LAFC crest and official colors of black and gold at a press conference, also held at Union Station. While a select group of supporters were present at both events, the evening party welcomed a wider group of supporters, called “LAFC Originals,” who received gift bags when they walked in the door with team gear.
For those who may scoff at the fact that a team that isn’t scheduled to play until 2018 has fans, the line to get into the party was well out the door and many others were rueing their inability to get an invitation. They may not have been able to rub shoulders with players like supporters normally do at season ticket holder events, but LAFC’s party was the next best thing for a team that is building itself piece by piece.
But even with the crest and colors now unveiled, there’s still plenty of work to be done to build the culture of the new club.
“I think the conversation doesn’t change because we have a visual sense of identity,” LAFC creative director Marcus McDougald told SoccerNation.com. “I think we’re still focused on asking people what they want out of a club.
“That being said, [from a creative perspective] it’s going to be interesting to profile the faces of Los Angeles, the people of Los Angeles.”
Multiple supporter groups that have pledged their allegiance to LAFC have already cropped up, and several were in attendance at the party, chanting and banging drums at various points during the night to add their own voices to the proceedings.
It will pale in comparison to the tens of thousands of fans expected at home games when the team kicks off, but Thursday’s party showed the supporter base for LAFC is there and looks to be growing ahead of opening day.