For most Americans, soccer is about one of two things: you’re either a fan or a player. Most soccer players are little spaz-kids jacked up on Capri Sun who roam in packs, chasing a ball and kicking each other in the shins. Most soccer fans in this country are the parents of the aforementioned spaz. You probably drive a mini-van/SUV and alternate with the other parents on who brings the post game snack. But wait… there’s another kind of fan: the PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL, er soccer, fan. You pay money to go to matches, wear your team’s colors, and pretend you live in Europe/South America. These are the kinds of fans, check that, hooligans, that give soccer such a great reputation internationally. Americans have some catching up to do, but someday I believe we can be as obnoxious as our international counterparts.
Enter the Seattle Sounders FC. The Sounders are a football club that gives everyone in Seattle something they have always longed for: a reason to act like they live in a socialist European country. It also welcomes a departure from the AYSO standard of behavior; hello boozing and fighting!
Last month I attended a Sounders match with the Boeing Bungalow and friends. The ‘Bungalow’ is home to four young, male Boeing employees. They also love soccer and are Seattle Sounders FC season ticket holders. I was lucky enough to snag an extra ticket and tag along for some classic Northwest soccer debauchery.
Brett, who is always an entertaining character, consumed the contents of a flask on our way to the XBOX 360 Pitch at Qwest Field. Keeping on eye Brett were his roommates and BCFP peers, Matt, Scott & Keith.
After monkeying around in the streets of Pioneer Square, we eventually made it inside the stadium. Qwest Field is the home of the Seattle Seahawks, an American football team. To accommodate the smaller Major League Soccer attendances, the folks at Qwest covered the upper deck seating with inspiring murals stretched over canvas. Even though the Sounders draw an impressive 20,000 fans, the decorations go a long way in making the 72,000 seat stadium feel more full than empty.
In true Euro fashion, the match opens with some bizarre ceremony that involves flags. How long do you have to do something to have it be considered a tradition in the MLS? 1 season? Three games? If the flags and confetti aren’t Anglo enough for you, don’t worry, the Sounders have employed a British stadium announcer. Cheers!
Although I joke around about the obvious European envy of most soccer fans, the opening ceremony was unique. It certainly reminded me that I was not at a baseball or football game—this is futbol, American style. Part of the appeal of MLS is that it isn’t the same old sporting stereotypes applied to soccer. Despite what my tongue-in-cheek Europhobic comments might suggest, I actually was entertained and had a great time. Everyone should be so lucky to go to a soccer game with Brett. Hint: there is more than Dr. Pepper in that can.
Using soccer standards, I was also satisfied with the action on the field. Despite being down a player due to a red card, the Sounders hung with the Kansas City Wizards through the first half. After 45 minutes of play the game was deadlocked at 0-0. The Wizards must have had better orange slices at halftime; they took a 1-0 lead in the second 45. After both teams punted the ball back and forth for a few more minutes, the refs blew the whistle and the match ended. It was mildly historic as this was the Sounders first ever loss.