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Fans Are Ready For FC Cincinnati's First MLS Home Game

soccer fans
Tana Weingartner
Fans in The Bailey celebrate during an FC Cincinnati match.

The drums will be banging and the flags will be waving Sunday as FC Cincinnati plays its first-ever home match in Major League Soccer.

After starting the season on the road at Seattle and Atlanta, the team hosts the Portland Timbers at Nippert Stadium at 5 p.m. in a nationally televised game.

"We're going to go bigger and better than we've ever done before," says Stephen Starkey, the creative director for The Pride, one of the supporters groups that leads cheers and whips up a frenzy in the fan section known as The Bailey.

Starkey says fans should expect to see the largest tifo the supporters groups have ever made. (A tifo, pronounced TEE-foh, is any kind of banner or large-scale, coordinated fan display, typically unveiled just prior to kick-off.)

"There will be more flags than we've ever done before. There will be larger flags than we've ever done before in The Bailey, similar to what some people may have seen on TV in Seattle and Atlanta these last couple of weekends. We're really trying to take every aspect that we've done so far and push ourselves to do something better just like the team is."

FC Cincinnati
Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
Fans march through Nippert Stadium ahead of the 2017 season opener.

Before the match, the various supporters groups - and there are more than half a dozen - lead a march from Mecklenburg Gardens to the stadium, picking up more and more fans along the way with singing and chanting. Starkey says joining the march is a good way to get excited for the game and everyone is welcome.

"It really gets the energy going and it gets people that aren't in The Bailey to engage with that same energy. Anybody can come out and join the march, it's not just for the supporters or a select few, it's for everybody."