Brittany Campbell

Open Cup runneth over for one Galaxy fan

For one LA Galaxy fan, a group chat turned into a chance to share her love for the lower levels of soccer.

It’s unlikely she knew what she was getting into. But Jamie Bacon (jmbacon21) found out in a hurry.

“This literally started as me complaining in a group chat about how people were evil for trying to sell their free tickets,” the 36-year-old Tustin resident told CoG.

“When I sent that first tweet — and I don’t even remember exactly what it said — I honestly thought that maybe three of my friends would send me stuff.

“I can’t tell you how many people I’ve never met before started sending me stuff.”

For Bacon, who works full time at a company that makes in-flight entertainment systems, a brief encounter on a group chat with some of her fellow Galaxy soccer friends quickly turned into a post-it filled filing system that has reached unprecedented levels.

The idea, in its purest form, was to take the Galaxy’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup game against amateur side Orange County FC at Dignity Health Sports Park’s track and field stadium (Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.; ESPN+) and make sure the free tickets season ticket members received would be used.

She sent out a call on social media for people to email her their free tickets if they weren’t going to use them and she would give them to people who could attend the game.

So far the number of redistributed tickets has surpassed 194, with Bacon firmly targeting the magic 200 number. It’s a figure she’s likely to exceed.

People either email her their unused tickets or contact her via Twitter or Facebook and tell her they’re looking to go. She then matches those who want to go with the tickets she has.

And because the match is general admission, all of it works rather seamlessly.

“I love Open Cup,” Bacon said with an unmistakable reverence in her voice. “It is wild. If you love team chaos, Open Cup is the best tournament in the world to watch.

“The Galaxy are playing an amateur side (OCFC). They’ve beaten three pretty good teams to get to the point where they’re playing the Galaxy, right now.

“That’s insane,” she continued.

The Galaxy have been criticized in the past for not taking the Open Cup seriously. Even under former head coach and general manager Bruce Arena – despite winning three MLS Cups and two Supporters Shields — the club rarely made any deep runs in the tournament outside of winning it in 2001 and 2005.

And with organizational issues surrounding former coach Curt Onalfo in 2017 followed by the late Sigi Schmid’s brief tenure in 2018, the club didn’t have the necessary bandwidth to make a run at it.

But Bacon isn’t making a statement about any of that, even while conceding it might be something the team could focus on.

“I mean, it’s a trophy,” she said. “And we’re lacking in those these last few years. But a lot of it for me is just about the game.

“The tournament is fun. We got the World Cup going on. Anytime you have tournaments it’s a lot of fun to watch and see all the crazy things that can happen.”

Bacon is a believer in not only the unpredictability of the cup — which is on full display with every game broadcast on the subscription-based ESPN+ — but also the ability to grow the game at the grassroots level.

It’s something she and other dedicated fans have been focused on since the start of the year.

“I wasn’t that into it last year because it wasn’t as easily accessible,” she confessed. “With ESPN+ picking up Open Cup, you can watch every single game no matter where you live.

“And at the beginning of the season — with the USL restructure — a bunch of us (including Riot Squadcast co-host Chris Tucker) decided that we’re going to follow a team from every single league whether they are local to us or just within championship, league one or league two.

“Because the only way you’re ever going to grow soccer,” she went on, “is to support those smaller clubs and give them your money.”

The response she received has been a bit overwhelming at times – she’s had to limit her recount of tickets she’s distributed to once per day because of her workload in between – but Bacon is adamant she expects nothing in return for her efforts.

Her achievements, however, haven’t gone unnoticed by Galaxy fans. And that’s led to some pretty hilarious and even thirst-quenching benefits.

“I’m pretty sure I’m never paying for another beer,” she said with a laugh. “Somebody said they’re buying me FIFA 20 (a video game). I’m not complaining about that one.

“I don’t want anything. I just want people to come to the game and be loud. But I don’t turn down beer, so I’m good with it.”

There’s no mistaking the Galaxy are heavy favorites for Wednesday’s game. The five-time MLS Cup Champions are facing an accomplished amateur group, but the disparity in talent should be a gap that figures to be difficult, to say the least, to close for Orange County.

In the likelihood the Galaxy advance, the obvious question arises. Will Bacon continue being a free ticket broker of sorts throughout the club’s Open Cup run?

“I actually talked to someone about it today who offered to pick it up for the next game or at least split the duties,” she told CoG. “I said, ‘Let’s just get through Wednesday, and we’ll talk about it after that.’

“I mean, honestly, I don’t see why not.”

Larry Morgan contributed to this article