The New York Red Bulls might well have homefield advantage at this year's MLS SuperDraft at the Baltimore Convention Center.
Say what now?
Two bus loads of supporters will make the 191 mile trip to Baltimore to stand for several hours, cheer their team’s selections and make their voices heard loud and clear.
Last year, members of the Empire Supporters Club created a small barnstorm around their presence at the draft in Philadelphia as they chanted and sung their way through the draft. They applauded No. 2 selection Tony Tchani as he swung by to greet them and they derided en masse anything that walked past in opposing colors.
This year, the Empire Supporters Club will be joined by fellow supporter groups, the Garden State Supporters Club and the Hans Backe Viking Army.
All this swirl of noise and chanting goes on between different supporters clubs while teams make selections and draw up draft-day trades just a couple dozen yards away.
“It’s difficult to draw the line," ESC member Jason Endres said. "We are encouraged to create an atmosphere, and that is our goal once we are in the war room as they call it.”
And while the NFL draft is known for getting boisterous with fans notoriously booing every selection made, the MLS draft can also turn into something heated.
For the New York supporters groups, though, it's a chance for them to clearly make their voices heard. On Thursday, however, it won’t be in the terraces that they will be bringing the ruckus, but rather in the board room.
The chanting often times comes across loud and clear and will be a central part of ESPN2 and MLSsoccer.com's broadcast of the event. Unlike games where field microphones can be shutoff when a supporters' end is being too spicy in their choice remarks, the setup of the convention center means that near every comment will be heard on national television.
“I remember the last time the draft was in Baltimore. Philadelphia didn't have a franchise yet and they were in the running with St. Louis for an expansion team. The commentary was framed-up, the shot for ESPN's live coverage was an overhead and drop in low on their supporters, the Sons of Ben in their khakis and polos and well kept interview ready attire,” said ESC member Thomas Binkley, a veteran of several draft day trips with his fellow supporters. “Without discussion, without coordination, everyone in ESC made their opinions known by chanting, ‘Pick St. Louis!’ It was audible for everyone at home to hear and every time I think about that it makes me smile.”
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012