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Verde or Yellow? Austin FC fans' loyalties collide as Tigres UANL comes to Q2 Stadium

Austin FC faces Tigres UANL, putting lots of fans through a moral dilemma of who to support. (Twitter)

Austin FC's Tuesday matchup against legendary Liga MX futbol club Tigres UANL may be just a friendly match. However, for many fans, it's a moral dilemma.

Loyalties will be tested, colors will mix and dreams will be fulfilled as Tigres, the 2020 CONCACAF Champions League winners, take on Austin FC at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Q2 Stadium.

When Tigres superfan Rigo Rodriguez joined the supporters' crew for his hometown's new team, he didn't expect his two worlds to collide so quickly. "To the club, I would say 'too soon,'" Rodriguez said.

Like so many others in Austin's futbol sphere, Rodriguez joined Austin FC's burgeoning fan club, which formed a melting pot of fans of leagues around the world. For the first time, fans of Liga MX and Premier League rivals stood side by side in Verde.

Rigo Rodriguez has been integral to Austin FC's lively supporters' section. (Rigo Rodriguez)

Although they're based in Monterrey, Tigres are aware of the large chapters of their fan base, including Libres y Lokos in Texas. They've played several friendlies in the Lone Star State, and they're known for their stadium invasions—most notably when they out chanted Houston Dynamo fans at their own stadium in 2019.

Christian Aguilar, president of Libres y Lokos' Austin chapter, said the match was announced too late for there to be a full-on invasion. Still, he said he expects at least 400 Tigres fans at Q2 come Tuesday.

"We are the biggest fans—the best fans—in Mexico, so we will be there," Aguilar said. "We'd like to have more... but we'll do whatever is best to support our team."

Those who support both clubs now have to decide who they'll root for in the friendly.

Tigres fans are known for invading stadiums on the road. (Libres y Lokos Austin)

For die-hard Tigres fans, it's going to be difficult for them to choose what side they'll be supporting. "Some of them have been fans of Tigres since they were children... that love for the team is ingrained," Chavez said.

Rodriguez, a lifetime supporter himself, has racked up around 70 Tigres jerseys in his lifetime, but his Austin FC collection is quickly catching up. When asked which color he'd wear to the friendly, Rodriguez sighed.

While he will never give up loyalty to his first love, Rodriguez, who can often be seen standing even with an injured foot and leading the supporters' section with a megaphone, said he has a responsibility to Austin's newborn franchise.

"I'm going to be dressed in all black, but I'm definitely sitting with my people in Austin FC," Rodriguez said. "Tigres has a fan base that doesn't need me, they're established... I feel responsible to be with our people and to help guide the experience. We have nothing to compete against in terms of our fanbase."

Even as loyalty runs deep for the Tigres fanbase, Aguilar said he respects those who choose to keep on the green. "When someone from Nuevo Leone decides to have a new life in the United States, it's a little more difficult," Aguilar said. "You love your team, your colors, for life, but now you have a new life. People want to be involved (and) we respect that."

The match has no meaning in the standings, but Head Coach Josh Wolff will be pressed with the difficult balance of keeping his injured roster rested and gaining the respect of a well-regarded international club as they suit up against Tigres at 8 p.m. on Tuesday.


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