Saturday's March to the Match was different than any other for the Emerald City Supporters - it was silent, or more accurately there were not any formal chants. ECS used the March as a moment to protest the recent banning of a District Ultra. That leader was banned from attending any MLS matches for a year. His offense was using smoke during a march to a United match. D.C. United claims that the smoke is illegal and unsafe, therefore it is their duty to enforce the Fan Code of Conduct on all stadium property.
The head of the March explained the history of MLS from its foundation when marketing targeted families, to its near failure in 2001. They went on to describe how the surge in popularity coincided with the rise of Supporters Groups around the league. It is notable that the Sounders were playing a team that would not exist if not for the Sons of Ben demanding it. Much of the pre-March speech echoed what ECS published earlier in the week.
Their primary objection is that the banning was for a thing that MLS features in advertising and marketing around the world.If that smoke used in D.C. was illegal why is there no police record of a crime? If one is to be banned, what is the process to appeal? If smoke is so awful, why is it a compelling reason to watch games (as demonstrated by it showing up in marketing regularly)?
And then they popped smoke, lots of it.
From inside the smoke there was plenty of confusion as to why the smoke was used at that point. It was thick, and not everyone that marches is part of ECS.
My view from inside Saturday's silent March pic.twitter.com/9bekfeP50z— Dave Clark (@bedirthan) April 17, 2016
Though the goal was silence, not everyone understood that either. Flyers were handed out and leadership of ECS walked through the March talking to members and other Sounders fans why this March was different.
Within the stadium ECS continued to protest, but not in a fashion that detracted from their primary goal - supporting the Sounders.
ECS was not the only supporters group that has protested the action by D.C. United. So far none of the protests have created any change by MLS or D.C. Smoke is still used to advertise the league, whether by MLS itself or by its commercial partners.