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Soccer team kicks off locally

Sports: Fans watch first match of semiprofessional team for many reasons

Posted: December 12, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: December 12, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Santa Clarita Storm players, referees and Chivas Guadalajara players stand in line for pre-match player introductions at Valencia High School on Sunday.

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One day, when the Football Club of Santa Clarita is a household name, the black homemade soccer jackets hand-stitched by Andrew Holbrook will be worth a lot of money.

On Sunday, just in time for the team’s first game against Chivas Guadalajara U20, the handmade “Santa Clarita Storm” jackets became the uniform of the fledgling team’s fan base.

“We were talking before the game that they didn’t have any gear, so we just made them,” Holbrook said, sitting shoulder to shoulder with three others wearing near-identical jackets.

FC Santa Clarita, a team with the National Premier Soccer League, tailored its identity to fit Santa Clarita after moving here from Lancaster, where it played as the Rattlers Football Club.

Sunday’s game at Valencia High School was the team’s first game as the “FC Santa Clarita Storm.”

“They didn’t have a whole lot of support in Palmdale when they played up there,” said Andrew’s wife, Shawna. “It should be better down here.”

The Holbrooks were particularly excited about cheering on Storm player No. 13 Tyler Coombes, Shawna’s brother, and became loud, animated and jumping out of the seats when the Storm scored in the last minute of the first half to tie the game.

A few hundred fans turned up at the high school — half for the home team.

Although fans occupied seats on only one side of the school’s football field, it was a healthy show of support.

“It’s pretty good for the first game,” Shawna Holbrook said.

Those coming out in support of Chivas Guadalajara U20 — a farm team of players younger than 20 — brought with them a rich history of loyal fan support.

For Maria Frias, Sunday’s game was the last in a weekend series of games for her son, 18-year-old Jaime Frias, who plays for Chivas Guadalajara.

“I’m his first fan,” she said with a big smile.

In contrast to the homemade Holbrook fan gear, Maria Frias’ colorful fluffy poncho displayed an elaborate design of the Chivas team logo.

“We make a lot of noise here,” she said, glancing around at the fans seated near her.

Club Deportivo Guadalajara — commonly called Chivas Guadalajara — is a Mexican professional football club based in Guadalajara. The team showing up for FC Santa Clarita’s inaugural game was its Under-20 team.

On Friday, Chivas Guadalajara played the Ventura County Fusion of the United Soccer League’s Premier Development League at Ventura College. The team also played in Oxnard.

“I go to all of the games,” Frias said.

Live play
For 10-year-old Santa Clarita Valley soccer player Andrea Wingenroth, Sunday’s contest was an excellent opportunity to see good soccer played live, even though the local team lost 3-2.

What team colors was the fifth grader sporting?

Wingenroth turned around to reveal “Saugus Extreme” emblazoned on the back of her jacket.

“We got to march in with the ladies team when they played here not too long ago,” she said.

Her mother, Laura, added: “So we thought it would be nice to see the guys play.”

Looking at the empty seats on either side of her, Andrea Wingenroth said: “It would be nice to see more people here.”

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