Friday, March 20, 2009


Somehow the soccer gods smiled upon me, and I ended up with a pair of tickets to the Seattle Sounders FC season opener at Qwest Field. I'd heard about the Sounders, and their recent ascension to Major League Soccer, but wasn't aware of how much buzz there was surrounding their first game. I showed up a touch late, and while walking from the car towards the stadium, still several blocks away, the Sounders scored their first goal as a MLS team, and the crowd roared so loud all of Seattle knew. We finally got to our seats, roughly 20 minutes after the first kick, and were dazzled by the atmosphere. The sold-out stadium glowed green, throbbing with twirling Sounders scarves; the mighty marching band blew that brass and beat those drums, but struggled to compete with the fans; giant green glitter fell steadily like fall leaves, making the pitch look like an Emerald City dance hall on prom might; and the Sounders -- oh the Sounders kicked the ever-loving snot out of Red Bull New York.

This was one of the best beginnings (for anything) I've ever seen. Seattle: a city hit hard by the recession (Microsoft, Boeing, Starbucks, et al.), a city that recently lost it's NBA team, a city that wants and needs something like this to lift its spirits. There was not a single jaded fan in that stadium, not a single past-broken heart, not a single pessimist who cheered without conviction. There was only hope. We did our part -- we filled the seats, we booed the ref's bad calls, we dressed in green, and we cheered until our lungs were ragged. The players didn't let down their end of the bargain either, delivering not just a win, but a clobbering, a rout. A game to talk about for years to come. A ticket stub worth keeping.

It was a victory for the Sounders. The Seattle Sounders.

To quote the large, euphoric, and wildly drunken man I encountered as the stadium emptied:

"Who was 'dere? We were aaaaaaaall 'dere."

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