It’s the eve of the last of the 2016 regular season Texas Derby matches, unless they meet in the MLS Cup Playoffs, being contested as part of Heineken Rivalry Week this Saturday (8 p.m. CT, TICKETS). So we caught up with representatives of two different Houston Dynamo supporters’ groups, El Batallon and the Texian Army. Both make their home in the Zona Naranja, and both share at least one signature chant, “We Are Orange.” Here’s the story behind it.
Manny Gutierrez, with El Batallon, says the supporters’ groups first started using a Spanish version of the chant, sung to the tune of a song that translates to "It's a Heartache." (“It’s a bit poetic, considering the current season,” he says, joking.) He notes that supporters of various Central and Spanish American clubs “use the melody with varying lyrics for whichever club it's dedicated to or aimed at.”
Their version was a rallying cry for the Dynamo, urging them to exhibit more effort, but in 2013, Gutierrez saw the need for an English chant to unify the various Dynamo supporters’ groups. That resulted in pairing the melody with four words that have come to exemplify Dynamo fandom: “Forever we are orange.”
How did it catch on?
“El Batallon brought it to us and we loved it,” says Texian Army president James Hromadka. Because it’s so simple, and because it’s sung rather than shouted, it’s become a staple for Dynamo fans in the last several years, and the front office is certainly cognizant of that. “When they notice us doing it in the section,” Hromadka said of the stadium operations’ crew, "they’ll sometimes scroll it on the displays on the sides of the stadium to get more fans involved.”
How has it evolved over time?
It’s now a slowly building chant that Hromadka says can start a cappella, and then pick up in tempo and intensity as El Batallon’s drummers and horn players kick in. The new Zona Naranja configuration places El Batallon and its musicians in the center of the section, flanked by the Texian Army and the Brickwall Firm.
Is there a specific time during a match that it's used?
It’s always used to start off a match. The Dynamo will typically get a special guest on a microphone to start the chant, and then the fans in the stadium will take it from there, with Zona Naranja extending it well into the first part of the match. After that, it’s a go-to chant whenever it fits the mood.
Why is it their favorite chant?
“I like that it picks the crowd up and really gets them going,” says Hromadka. “We know that even the players appreciate it; the team’s shared post-game videos from the locker room where individual players are either singing or humming it.”
For Gutierrez, who wanted a chant that was “hypnotic and contagious,” “We Are Orange” has definitely achieved that. “At the most basic level,” he says, “it's like saying those ‘three little words.’ It says so much with so few words."