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United, By Design

Tifo Image

While many of you may already be familiar, it’s always good to have a refresher on soccer terminology:

tifo [tee-foh]


  1. a coordinated display, including large banners, flags, and sometimes signs or cards, executed cooperatively or performed in unison by the most fervent supporters and ultra fans in the stadium.

Not bad, dictionary, not bad. Certainly, to love the game of soccer is to express that love with big, passionate, audible displays of affection. Which makes it no surprise that tifos are a much-beloved part of the game’s history and culture. And, while the Allianz Field crowd isn’t shy about shouting out their love for the Supporters Section and the creativity they inject into the match, not even the literal definition of a “tifo” can do justice to what a tremendous undertaking it is, from beginning to end, to create these large-scale symbols of loyalty, unity, and sometimes, even great dislike for an opponent. But, when it comes to the collective efforts of the Wonderwall, there aren’t too many members that know the rigors of the step-by-step process like Dark Clouds founding member, Anthony de Sam Lazaro, and head of the East Coast Dark Clouds, Matthew Eide.

Anthony de Sam Lazaro, who has been a loyal supporter of Minnesota soccer since the Thunder era and currently is a sitting board member for the Wonderwall, is usually the point person when members have a creative idea for the next tifo to adorn the Wonderwall. When it comes to deciding on the idea, Eide noted, there is a “philosophy” that each tifo design must try to encapsulate. Certainly not a set of hard and fast rules, but Eide and de Sam Lazaro both agree on a couple: Not too niche, make it about the players or the team, and regardless of the materials used to bring it all together, it must be hand-painted.

Whatever the idea for the tifo design from match to match, the community holds just as much importance to the logistics and labor behind bringing that design to the Allianz Field masses. According to Eide, there is no shortage of materials that could be used to bring a tifo to life, but not always enough supply of the ones decided upon in the planning. If that’s the case, Eide says, it’s okay to get creative with the materials, as long as it can bring the vision to life. As Eide admitted, “the backside of the tifo can look pretty slapped together, even if the exterior looks amazing.”

Regardless of how it all comes together, it takes a community-sized effort just to transport to and from the stadium. Anthony, who counts his three sons among his painting crew, filled us in on just what it will take to get the tifo created for the 2024 home opener to Allianz Field before kick-off. “Well, it will take a crew of at least six people just to load up all the pieces and transport them via trailer to the stadium. Saturday’s tifo is so big in size that we think it will take a crew of ten to twelve to organize and raise the tifo. As for the storage post-match, the supporters often store each tifo in one of the Allianz Field storage rooms,” de Sam Lazaro explained that the tifo for the opener may “be too big to even fit in there.”

But, through all the hard work needed to bring this massive show of support to the Allianz Field faithful, these tifos are the definition of a “labor of love.” For the game. For the club. For the culture. As for this Saturday’s tifo, a beautifully-designed salute to the new state flag design, as well as the aesthetics of the recently unveiled “Starry Night” kit, the Allianz Field crowd are the biggest beneficiaries of the efforts of such dedicated supporters like de Sam Lazaro and Eide, and the rest of the supporter community that steps up to show out.