By Isabel Mueller / For Somos Sports
(Photos by Grace Stufkosky)
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — In front of a sellout crowd of 6,520 fans Saturday night, Phoenix Rising FC got the job done, 2-1, over El Paso Locomotive FC.
Midfielder Jose Aguinaga and teammate Solomon Asante had the goals for PRFC, Asante on a penalty kick. The story of the night on the pitch was Rising’s USL record win streak, which reached an impressive 13 games.
In the stands at Casino Arizona Field, another statement was made. Los Bandidos, a supporters group, paid homage and showed their respect as well as condolences to the victims of the El Paso Walmart shooting earlier in the week.
Many fans spoke upon what they witnessed Saturday night. “It was my first time ever going and I loved it,” she said. “I love what they did in remembrance of the victims, I think at that point it’s more about humanity then a sport and I think most of us can learn to put things aside when it comes to the hardships of the world.”
Priscilla Aguero said in these times, being Latinx is diffcult.
“I have gone to many sporting events but the amount of compassion I saw tonight was something truly special. Yes, they are two teams coming to play each other but the fact that they can put the competitiveness to the side and realize that we all are humans despite what we look like,” she said. “Even though being Hispanic is scary right now we have people in our corner, and we are here to stay.”
Los Bandidos leaders felt some kind of statement had to be made after the worst mass shooting with Latinos as the target in U.S. history. With El Paso’s team in town, Los Bandidos wanted to show they united with the Locomotive supporters.
“Compassion is always necessary and even more when a community was affected like that. So, despite the fact that we are opponents for 90 minutes, we have to be aware that the El Paso supporters went through a traumatic event and some things go beyond football,” said a member known as El Sub Comandante.
Members of Los Bandidos have strong political opinions and are very open about their beliefs. They are also huge advocates and supporters of the Latino community. Members use aliases in order to safely promote and raise awareness of many of the political issues in the U.S., accepting the risk that comes with it.
“When you have elected officials openly encouraging the xenophobic and racially charged rhetoric, someone is going to act,” El Sub Comandante said. “For the rest of us, we feel as if all the racial tension we’ve faced before is now reaching boiling points. However, in the face of fear we have to show we are not going to cower, and we are not going to apologize for our cultural identity.”
Before the game started, a moment of silence for the victims of the mass shootings in El Paso and Ohio took place at Casino Arizona Field. The public address announcer also thanked citizens and rescue workers who helped victims. Shortly after the national anthem was performed, the members of Los Bandidos went onto the field with banners displaying support and solidarity for those affected and the 22 victims that were taken too soon from the world.
One banner read, “Love Always Wins, El Paso Strong” another read, “Fuerza El Paso”. Members wanted to show strength within the Latino community in Phoenix and El Paso.
“All of us felt shaken up upon hearing the shooter was actively looking for Latinos. So, making this banner was done out of pain but also about making El Paso supporters feel like they don’t have to hide who they are,” said El Sub Comandante.