As the thundering percussion and vociferous trumpet of the Energy FC’s Latino support club Furia Verde blasted out an earnest melodía reminiscent of Los Fabulosos Cadillacs’ “Matador,” like a call to acción they were joined on the edge of the field by a succession of fans of all ages, numerously holding various flags and banners and other accoutrements, many representing their various South of the Border heritages and/or homelands in both regalia and regality.
Briskly taking the field when the home-team’s name is finally announced, they’re doing their job, pumping up the Sunday evening crowd with maracas rattlin’ and cannons boomin’, smoke bellowin’ and flags wavin’. The crowd doesn’t hesitate at all; they’re right there with them every on every beat, all on their feet, fists pumping and chests beating when their favorite player is announced on the scoreboard, ready for the absolute beatdown the Energy has in store for the L.A. Galaxy II.
But tonight’s main event seemed to game take on a different, almost spiritual sense of camaraderie for Furia Verde and the rest of the Energy’s Latino fandom, a true coming together of Oklahoma City’s diverse Hispanic communities to not only cheer on Oklahoma City’s increasingly popular soccer team, but to partake in and celebrate an embedded history and a stoic culture that, though it’s been tried many times by many different people even to this day, cannot and will not be stolen.
The Energy FC called it Carnavale Futbolero and it was their way of helping to not only celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month but, in a way, give a much-deserved gracias to the community for embracing them as one of their own. And they showed up in droves to embrace them right back carnal.
The más firme of these fans come from the organically-grown Furia Verde supporters club, a grassroots collective comprised of mostly the loudest and proudest of Latinos, Hispanics, Chicanos y otrafutbol fanatics that have managed to find each other and come together to represent La Raza’s ingrained passion of the sport by any means necessary, a love that the Energy has come to not only respect, but reciprocate with special events like these that actually feel like a family reunion.
Martin, one of the masked avengers that can be seen sitting in the Furia Verde section of Taft Stadium at every game, believes this club works because there’s a real sense of honest respect that the Energy has for the Latino community that’s hard to find in many other Oklahoma City sporting events.
“We started last year, this is our second year,” he said. “We started doing this because futbol is an important part of Hispanic culture and we’re her to cheer loud for 90 minutes at 100%. We have a lot of instruments and we’re playing them all 90 minutes to let them know we’re there for them, every single game. This is our team.”
The pre-game Carnavale Futbolero events started a few hours before the 5 p.m. match-up against the aforementioned L.A. Galaxy II, with the requisite food trucks offering gourmet churros and spicy mangos on a stick, peppered around the Taft parking lot perimeter as kids of all ages kicked promotional soccer balls around while mostly non-threatening payasos made the requisite balloon animals. A few feet away, the gastrically macho—sans Louis—participated in a taco eating contest sponsored by mi amigos at Morelos.
As the member of the local baile folklórico dance troupes began to conclude their impressive program, the sun started to settle, the breeze shifted a little and the totality of present members of Furia Verde started to come together and get their wits about them, from whole families to small children, this was a genuine shared experience that was, like most things with us Latinos, was practically ritualistic in both devotion and execution.
“This is the number one sport in the world,” another fan, William, I think, said. “We grow up watching soccer, playing soccer on the streets, and it brings the culture together. A lot of people come up here to have fun, it’s about fun and family and win or loss, and they’re our team.”
There Furia Verde stood, there we stood, there mi gente stood, just outside the green, waiting for the right moment…
“Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for your Oklahoma City Energy!”
…to unleash those 90 minutes of unstoppable puro Furia Verde.