MLS Ultras: Plastic Wannabes Or Signs Of A Flowering League?

Football in North America has been in search of authenticity for decades. It is debatable whether hardcore fans help or hinder that goal. When Major League Soccer kicked out for the first time in the year 1996, the Ultras culture of European football was about to settle.

Of course, Ultras still exists today, but the pitch of the football is sometimes violent, always notorious, counterculture came in the 1980s when English and Italian fans served a poisonous reputation. As in many things, MLS has used the last few years to catch up. The game in North America has created its own fan culture. You can see it in the fan bases of the Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders, Orlando City, Atlanta United, LAFC and much more, but there are also loud and proud Clean Ultras groups.

Groups like Inebriatti in Canada, which last month was banned by Toronto FC to cause chaos at a game in Ottawa. The lighted smoke bombs and thrown flares on the track while they had masks, alarming other fans in the stadium. They will not be in another Toronto FC game any time soon.

Inebriatti is not the only Ultras group that has been banned from the team they follow with Garden State Ultras’ recognition as an official supporters group of the New York Red Bulls revoked earlier this year after several complaints from other fans, stadium employees and even the police. Sector Latino, a Chicago Four Ultras group, was also kicked out of their seats in the month of June.

Ultras culture in MLS persists though. But why? What drives so many to adjust with a way to fandom, usually seen as a settling of a bygone age? What is really after this increase in Ultras culture in the MLS?