The first thing you hears as you walk towards the ground, across the gravel concourse with several thousand other football fans in this starved soccer town - is the distant beating drums.
That constant rhythm is provided by the competing drums of the two Phoenix Rising supporters’ groups down the far end of the newly named Arizona Casino Stadium, near the junction of two major Valley freeways.
That, and the occasional Southwest Airlines 6:45 flight to Dallas droning overhead.
This is a stadium and a team built right in the heart of a bustling multi-city urban complex that until now has lacked a professional soccer team. Often overlooked, Phoenix is now making a statement on the football scene in the US, often overlooked
You head into the stadium via the security gates and you’re immediately immersed into a scene that resembles equal parts tribal football match, tailgate party, and open-air markets. Beers are hawked, the merchandise tent does a brisk trade and the waft of steaks and tacos from the food trucks dotted around the perimeter all feed in to this carnival atmosphere.
Despite this, the Phoenix Rising match day is very much a family affair with giveaways, a mini-football training pitch, kids ooh-ing and aah-ing as their peers hit or miss shots on goal. Many are wearing the black and red of the Rising – a testament to the effect this nascent team is having upon the next generation of soccer players in the Valley. Of course, the line was long for the season supporters tent and the opportunity to have a selfie with the newly earned Western Conference trophy.
We find our seats in the bleacher-like stands of the supporters end. We are warned by the signs on the way in that sitting in the Supporters section will likely subject you to frequent standing, loud noises, fruity language and periods of smoke. Not the Maurizio Sarri type of smoke, of course. But belching black and red flares, which occur with great frequency.
It’s here that the loudest and most passionate supporters make their way to. It’s a cacophony of drums, chanting, cheering and expectation.
Football friends from last season reacquaint themselves and pose their hypothesis for the coming game and the season in general for the Phoenix Rising.
A thousand red batons glimmer in the darkness and the stadium lights are dimmed to enhance the spectacle. It has the desired effect.
The anthem, of course, marks the beginning of the home season for the Rising
As the last bars of Star Spangled Banner waft across the oddly chilly desert evening, the crowd lifts and roars in anticipation of the referee’s whistle to commence the game..
There are lows…
It’s all a part of football and one that this town is quickly learning to love the game of football. These fans will be back, and they will tell their experience of one of the best shows in town
Things are looking up for Phoenix Rising. We hope they can carry that momentum into this season and hopefully into the MLS
Let’s hear from a brand new Phoenix Rising soccer fan, shall we?
What did you think of the game, Ivy?
Ivy: “Um, I liked it!”
Arran: “Yeah? What did you like about it?”
Ivy: “Hmmm…. When the smoke? The smoke!!”
Arran: “Yeah the flares there! Which color smoke did you like best?”
Ivy: “I like the blue ANNND the pink!”
Arran: “Did you actually like what happened on the field?”
Arran: “Who’s your favorite player?”
Ivy” (Considering) Hmmm… I don’t know yet!”
If you haven't been to a Rising game yet, you’re truly missing out on one of the best spectacles in the Valley. Hope to see you next time.