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Snap Shots: LOBINA goes “at large” to explore viewing parties at bars around the Bay

With the Quakes away for more than a month, LOBINA travels like Caine in Kung Fu to crash viewing parties, talk to fans, and sample the bounty of Bay Area beers. Week 7: In the Center of The City.

San Francisco-based fans Tomas and Geoff revel in watching Quakes soccer, quaffing quality pints, and consuming craploads of kick-ass natchos at the San Francisco Athletic Club Saturday, April 17, 2015.
San Francisco-based fans Tomas and Geoff revel in watching Quakes soccer, quaffing quality pints, and consuming craploads of kick-ass natchos at the San Francisco Athletic Club Saturday, April 17, 2015.

Now that Montreal Impact are in the CONCACAF Champions League final, we can support them as the quasi-rep for MLS (even though they got in as the Canada champ).  Unfortunately, their ascension to the Final threw off the MLS schedule—shifting the Earthquakes vs Impact match from April 25 to September 16—creating a five-week window of ZERO Quakes homegames.

--If that situation isn’t sad enough, the Quakes then lost away to New York Saturday night.

Some Quakes fans sought solace in a shot glass:

Alas: when the Quakes are away, LOBINA remains a cold, barren slab of marble, as sterile as most of the Quakes scoring attempts during the first half of that match.

--Preferred hashtag is #LOBINA, which we share with Spanish speakers who catch striped bass:

Which, perhaps, we can combine like Voltron into fab booze-based fish tacos.
Or fab fish-taco-based booze.
Or both.

Because, hey, we’re all about that bass, bout that bass (no treble—yet, but Supporter’s Sheild, MLS cup and CCL title will one day be in our grasp!).

--NYRB fans, who enjoy their own soccer-only stadium (even though it’s in New Jersey), seem to be threatened by the length of LOBINA.  In S/B Nation’s Once a Metro’s match prediction, Lester Townsend fortells a 4-3 NY win, stating:

It's 43 degrees outside right now. Does that mean something? No. It means EVERYTHING. And since you should always bet on the Red Bulls at home, clearly they're the 4. San Jose, the away team, gets the 3. I interviewed for a job at Google once. I didn't get the job. I hope San Jose loses so badly that they disappear from the map and take their stupid world's largest bar with them.

So we’re stupid.

And somebody has some serious rejection issues.

But our stupid LOBINA spirit(s) extends beyond the slim confines of the Avaya endline throughout the Bay Area.

--In terms of blanket coverage and growing the game, super crafty chain store Joanne’s is now offering select MLS print fabics!  Unfortunately, the Quakes don’t "seam" to make the cut:

No problem, as no need for wet blankets right now!

--More important: while Kinnear and the Quakes (good band name) sort themselves out on the pitch, supporter groups and match watch parties are growing around the Bay Area!

LOBINA looks forward to visiting as many as there are games away from our beloved new home.

Tomas posted the original call on the /r/SJEarthquakes site to meet at the San Francisco Altheltic Club at Divisadero and Bush.  SFAC is a large bar & grill (occupying a former Mexican restaurant) with large, leather booths, a pool table, high school wooden bleachers, kickass natchos, and a large main room ringed with screens and divided into two watching areas by back-to-back bigass TVs.  And two punching bags.

While it’s fine for fans to grumble about the Quakes’ less-than-fabulous performance on the pitch, no one can complain about the quality of the natchos: fresh, chunky quacamole over a mountain of beans and jalapenos, all on top of  thick, thick chips that won't wilt until way past overtime and penalty kicks.

Given that there are already quite a few bars in The City that have established viewing parties for various supporters groups, why did Tomas choose SFAC for Quakes fans?  Meeting at a place not known as a footy bar ensures no conflict with other MLS supporters groups such as the Green & Golden Gate (Portland), G’S UP (L.A.), or Fog City Faithful (Seattle).  The bar is rather centrally located (MUNI stops: 24 Divisadero, 38 Geary or 2 Clement), has kickass natchos, and is run the requisite bearded, balding bloke from the Blessed Isles that birthed the Beautiful Game, one who actively encourages soccer viewing parties.

Apparently for the first away match a group of 15 attended—my social media minion got there an hour before the match and enjoyed humming the Johnny Cash version of Niel Diamond’s "Solitary Man" until 3:56 when Geoff rocked into the room.  A transplant to The City and a student at USF, Geoff found out about the viewing parties through Reddit.  Living out in the Richmond, he usually goes to the Abby (on Geary at 5th Ave) or over to Danny Coyles (Haight at Pierce) to watch weekend morning Premier League matches.  Having no car makes a difficult trek to Avaya, but he attended the RSL game in early April and hopes to go to more matches when the Quakes return from the road.

Tomas, Geoff, and Eli commented on the apparent dearth of Quakes fans in San Francisco, with most footy followers hitting the bars for Premier League and La Liga matches.  Why not enjoy MLS and all of Europe?  Tomas thinks that’s a lot of time in bars watching soccer: "I work weekends at the YMCA teaching soccer to kids.  If I had to choose between watching soccer and playing it, I'll choose playing everytime.  Especially if it's with kids--gotta grow the game!"

As for the NY vs SJ match itself, much was discussed, debated, critiqued and celebrated:

--We miss Busch, but Bingham looking better and better, a willingness to take a chance with a Neuer nuance, and communicating better with the back line.

--The Goodnardez centerback pairing looks solid, and Alashe in front of them provides another sorta-CB but one who has the ablilty and creativity to get the attack going (we admired Sam’s intensity and loved his rocketgoal, but #CreativeCronin was never going to trend).

--Innocent: put the ball in the goal! D’Please!

--Progress! No Bernardez Yellow Card!  (Might have to change the drinking game)

--Good things happen when Wondo, Tommy Thompson, and MPG play together.  Like shots. And movement with purpose. And energy.

As many San Franciscans on Reddit claimed they couldn’t make this viewing party, one may assume the RSL rematch May 1 at 7pm will find a large, loud group of Quakes fans cheering both the team and the natchos at SFAC.

--No Quakes away-match watch party in your neighborhood?  First check FootySF for local pubs, or get on /r/SJEarthquakes or other social media and start organizing!

In San Francisco, it took one person to start a Reddit post, and three people to show up.

In addition to great quantities of quality nachos, Comraderie is the greatest comfort food: Quakes fans Tomas, Geoff, and Eli bring lens-flare-inducing Quakes love to the San Francisco Athletic Club during the San Jose’s 2-0 loss to New York

Others joined in while watching the match, more will come to the next week—either by Reddit read, LOBINA recommend, or random soccer god fate--and who knows what crowd of rowdy’ Quakes fans will be rocking and rolling together by the end of the season?

LOBINA supports all Quakes fans (and all fellow bars that support the local fans) and hope to have my social media minions meet as many of you as possible over the next month of away matches.

Make sure to let LOBINA know at which watering hole you watch the Quakes when they're away!