News & Politics

Which D.C. United Supporter Group Should You Join?

The Screaming Eagles occupy sections 132 to 134 in RFK. Photo by Srdan Bastaic.

There are three rabid “supporters groups” that provide non-stop cheering and flag-waving for the team. Join one and you’ll be in a thousand-member family, with drums.

La Barra Brava

La Barra Brava founder Oscar Zambrana pumping up the crowd. Photo courtesy of La Barra Brava.

Origin story: Founded in 1995 by Bolivian immigrants and DC locals and inspired by the rowdy South American fan groups, without the violence.
Members: 1,600.
Big on: Drumming—loud drumming; chants in Spanish (“Vamos, vamos, United!”); and jumping that makes the stands shake.
Tailgate culture: Potluck, with a dedicated group of grillers dubbed Hell’s Kitchen who cook up meat, all kinds of meat.
Membership: $32, and you drink and eat for free at tailgates.
Where to find them: Sections 135 to 138.
In their own words: “We’re like a dysfunctional family. We’re not very organized, but we have the heart.”
Who should join: Anyone who wants to belong to one of the most passionate fan clubs in MLS.

District Ultras

Smoke bombs are outlawed inside the stadium, but that doesn’t always stop the fans from setting them off. Photo courtesy of the District Ultras.

Origin story: They’re a splinter group from La Barra Brava, formed in 2010 by Srdan Bastaic, who didn’t like the way La Barra was run.
Members: 200.
Bragging rights: They’re the tifo kings.
Buzzkill: Last season, a leading member was banned from games for a year for detonating a smoke bomb outside RFK. In protest, the Ultras left their section empty during the first half of the next ten games.
Membership: $20 optional; includes a scarf or flag, and free food at tailgates.
Where to find them: Sections 127 and 128.
In their Own words: “Pocos peros locos”—small but crazy.
Who should join: The highly principled and highly fit. Ultras take their “90-minute mentality” very seriously; they chant and jump for the entire match.

The Screaming Eagles

Each group has their own game-day scarf. Photo courtesy of the Screaming Eagles.

Origin story: Formed in 1995, even before the team was D.C. United, and helped organize the public vote on its name.
Members: 1,200.
Profile: Skews older, slightly more female, and generally tamer than other groups, with a come-one-come-all vibe.
Big on: Logistics and management—nobody would ever get left behind on their road trips to away games.
Tailgate perk: Kegs of local microbrews.
Membership: $30, with jersey (plus extra fees for tailgates).
Where to find them: Sections 132 to 134.
Who should join: Do-gooders. Every supporter group does charity work in the community, but the Eagles are particularly devoted to it.

This article appears in the March 2017 issue of Washingtonian.

Web producer/writer

Greta started as an editorial fellow in January 2016 and joined as a full-time staff member that August. She now works as a web producer and writer. She was previously an intern at Slate and National Geographic and graduated from the University of Missouri’s Journalism School. She lives in Adams Morgan.