The Southeast is a weird intersection of soccer culture. Barren of any MLS team between 2001 and this year, the Southeast has had hit-and-miss success with lower division teams – for every Chattanooga FC, there is a Rocket City United. The distance between teams in the South has not made things any easier. In fact, the drastic space between clubs actually made the New Orleans Jesters leave PDL in 2012 for the NPSL, who at the time offered them teams much closer to them. However, since that move, the Mississippi Storm (Ocean Springs, MS), Rocket City United (Huntsville, AL), Panama City Beach Pirates, and Pensacola City FC have all folded.
Despite these teams departing, New Orleans has actually experienced something of a rebirth. With the founding of its supporters’ group, the Royal Court, in 2013, New Orleans suddenly has a crowd of rambunctious and eclectic personalities that match the reputation of the city coming out to cheer on their boys in purple and green. They are building something that could soon come to the forefront of NPSL supporters’ culture.
Meanwhile, the remnants of Pensacola City FC’s supporters’ group, the Gulf Coast Armada, is beginning their trek around the Southeast to various teams this summer in hopes of attracting a new owner to Pensacola, FL or Mobile, AL.
The Jesters are building their reputation. The Armada is trying to rebuild theirs. In a game that places an “old” club in the Jesters against a young supporter-funded club in Nashville FC, is the centerpiece for a look at how Southern hospitality and a kinship between the Armada and the Royal Court is helping to define southern soccer supporter culture.