For Bruce, it happened over years. For Mandy, it took only a few games.
Like so many soccer lovers in the area, Bruce and Mandy felt the inevitable draw of Los Bandidos and the raucous atmosphere they create during Phoenix Rising home matches.
Bruce Boyd started attending Phoenix Rising matches soon after moving to Phoenix seven years ago.
Originally from New Jersey, Bruce quickly became one of the drummers within the former Red Fury supporters group, but he always felt drawn to another location within the stadium – Los Bandidos’ section.
“Every game, I would look over to the Bandidos and see how much energy they had from start to finish,” shared Bruce. “You could feel their passion throughout the stadium, and after a while I just knew I needed to be drumming over there.”
Soon after, Bruce and a handful of his fellow musicians decided to move over to join Los Bandidos.
That move, in part, helped spark a consolidation and combination of supporters groups, which now all sing together in the south end of Wild Horse Pass Stadium.
“Whether it’s Los Bandidos or Union 602, we take pride in our role as supporters every match,” shared Bruce, right before he started banging away at his bombo murguero drum.
That pride is something that has drawn countless others to the south end of Wild Horse Pass Stadium.
For Mandy Blackwell, it was all about finding community among Los Bandidos. Originally from Wales, Mandy watched her first Phoenix Rising matches on the opposite end of the stadium from Los Bandidos. While most of her neighboring ticketholders at that time were content sitting down for the entirety of the game, Mandy knew she needed to be where the action was happening. She needed to be among Los Bandidos.
It didn’t take long for Mandy (along with a few other local Welsh Arizonans!) to switch the location of her tickets and give in to the gravitational pull of Los Bandidos.
Ask Mandy, Bruce, and countless others, and they’ll tell you that Los Bandidos is home. It’s family.
Built in the spirit of South American ultras, Los Bandidos is unique in the sheer number of people you will see leading the songs and chants on any given matchday.
Capos regularly rotate and you could watch dozens of matches from the Phoenix Rising supporters section not even realizing that many of the original founders and capos are screaming just as loud from the back of the section.
It’s why, when they say they sing for 90, they mean it.
Steve Lopez, one of the original members, described the passion in Phoenix as something you have to live to understand. Steve recently had his first child and when we were chatting about how special it was, he said it was hard to put into words how much love he felt as a new dad.
He said the same goes for being a supporter of Phoenix Rising.
“It’s something I can’t really explain,” said Steve. “Nothing comes close to the love and passion you have for the most important things in your life. That’s what a lot of us feel like with this team and Los Bandidos.”