Galaxy aims to reverse two trends in the last MLS game before its World Cup break
Two things happened at the Galaxy’s last MLS home game that the team would prefer not to see repeated when it returns to the StubHub Center on Saturday for its final match before a three-week World Cup break.
The first: the team lost. Reversing that in just 10 days could be tough, given that the Galaxy have lost a conference-high four games at home this season and will be facing Real Salt Lake, a team on an MLS-best three-game winning streak.
The second: the return — on Gay Pride Night, no less — of an anti-gay Spanish-language chant by fans each time FC Dallas keeper Jesse Gonzalez attempted a goal kick. The Galaxy said they are taking steps to make sure that doesn’t come back.
“We’re trying to do everything we can to educate our fans and educate anyone coming to StubHub that that chant is not allowed [or] welcome here,” said Brendan Hannan, the team’s vice president for marketing and communications.
The Galaxy regularly show taped messages on the StubHub’s huge video boards explaining the stadium’s code of conduct, which prohibits racist, sexist or homophobic comments. On Tuesday the team sent a notice to season ticket holders reminding them that the club does not “condone derogatory language towards any segments of people for any reason. The offensive word commonly used on goal kicks is not a custom the LA Galaxy support in any manner.”
Hannan said security guards have been instructed to eject fans who use offensive language and said an undetermined number of people were escorted out of the May 30 game. However, some Galaxy supporters took to social media after the match to complain that security refused to take action against the chanters.
The chant, a low, guttural cry that accompanies each goal kick by the opposing keeper, begins with the crowd yelling “eeeeeeeehhh” — stretching the sound out in unison — before shouting a two-syllable anti-gay slur when the goalie strikes the ball. Although the chant is most commonly tied to fans of the Mexican national team, its origin is in dispute.
When the Los Angeles Football Club’s home debut was marred by the chant in April, team and fan leaders addressed the crowd before the next game telling them the chant would not be tolerated and fans would have their ticket privileges revoked if they used it.
The chant stopped.
So the Galaxy will use a similar approach Saturday, having a player address the crowd pregame while urging security personnel to eject anyone caught using the slur.
“It’s something that we’ve taken a hard stance on,” Hannan said.
As for the results on the field, the Galaxy come into Saturday’s game off a draw in Portland that snapped the Timbers’ 10-game home winning streak. It also gave the Galaxy points in three of their last four games.
But that momentum will be hard to continue against a Real Salt Lake team that has lost just once since May 7 despite having allowed 26 goals on the season, third-most in the league.