Sounders First Game

I am a bit late with this update but its taking me 2 days to soak in the events of Thursday and all the Sounders goodness that has happened before, during and after.  The following are my accounts of match day and reflect nothing but my personal opinions.

Wednesday night was not my normal kind of night.  I was very jacked up getting ready for what I hoped was one of the most memorable soccer days of my life.  I was checking twitter like mad, I was reading all the forums and watching http://soundersfc.com site like a crazy person.  The news had a few bits here and there in the mainstream media but most of the good stuff was over at the ECS website (http://weareecs.com).  ECS is the Emerald City Supporters, which is the largest group of supports for the sounders out there.  I was still working on how the day would go down as far as transportation and stuff.  It was decided that I would drive Amy to work and take the bus from Queen Anne and I would park near QWest so we could get home.  Since I was taking Thursday off this would work out.

Thursday morning finally came and I woke up and started the web review of things going on before I took Amy to work.  On my way to taking Amy to work I got to finally see the Tully’s T with a Sounders Scarf and the Flag on the Space Needle which was a nice opening to the next 12 hours of Sounders filled fury.  Heading back to Renton I needed to stop at the DMV by my house, which I thought, would take an hour or so but I was wrong, it only took 10 minutes.  This left me with 50 minutes and my local soccer pub (The Pickled Onion) was next store so I decided I would stop in and check the basketball scores and have a pint.  Talked to the owner’s wife while there and got some info for the rest of the season to watch away games there.  After a pint or 2 I headed home to get ready and play with the puppies before I headed out for the rest of the day.  I got on my team gear, camera and pumas and headed out.

I chose to drive down 1st ave so that I could find the best parking between QWest and Pioneer SQ.  Got some decent parking outside the stadium and walked over to Occidental Park to Fuel to hang out with the ECS guys.  Snapped a few pics on the way before things got out of control.  Things at 1230 pm were pretty quite.  I saw a few people walking around in jerseys but nothing like I expected.  The north lot of QWest was starting to fill up with a few tailgaters but they seemed to just be waking up and not partying hard yet.  The walk through Occidental Park seemed almost holy as its trees leaves fluttered in the light spring breeze a few green jerseys milling about and the lunchtime crowd enjoying the beauty of a nice spring day.  Occidental Park was about to be awoken in a few hours by what seemed like 5k plus people.

Fuel sits right on the north east corner of Occidental Park so I headed over there to grab a bit before the place became a crazy madhouse of Sounders fans.  It was about 1:15pm and walking into Fuel I was a bit shocked to not see it packed but it was busy as the business folks popped in to grab lunch and see the scores of the NCAA tourney.  I was able to grab a seat at the bar and order a nice Mannys and sandwich.  As I was eating I would turn around and see the crowd change about every 10 minutes as the lunch crowd left and the ECS poured in.  The back of the place, the front of the place the band area the outside all filled up with ECS by 230pm.  It was a great atmosphere as the chants started during the commercials of the Huskies game and then they started all the time.  As soon as the recruiting drive started I was able to get to the stage and get my ECS membership.  Around 315 my friend Todd showed up and was amazed how full the place was and the general excitement.  Quarter to 4 Amy showed up and we stood outside of full meeting folks and getting ready for the March to QWest.  As each minute passed I saw more and more Green and Blue inside and outside.

At 425pm everyone poured out of Fuel and headed over to the park for the march.  On the way over Amy talked to the Mayor of Seattle and while getting jazzed up Drew Carey ended up in the middle of park with someone’s kid on his shoulders.  I was able to get a few pics of him from about 5 feet.  He looks exactly as he does on TV.  ECS was in the back getting loud and chanting proud.  Others seemed to start getting into the “Whole Soccer Thing” as I heard it referred to.   There was some words by drew and the Mayor and a few others as then the Sound Wave kicked us off on the March.  ECS was starting to Pogo in the back right before the walk started.  I know it was only thousands but it seemed like millions of people were marching with us.  All with their sounders scarf’s up in the air and nothing but smiles.  You could see that the 493 day wait for the Sounders MLS start was finally hear.  During the march folks were shouting out their windows and as we past FX McRorys we got the crowds pumped, TV Crews, radio crews and photographers where snapping and recording the whole thing trying to capture something for film and radio.  I am pretty sure nothing seen on TV can truly capture the feeling we all had.  This was no regular sporting event, this was the worlds game coming back to Seattle and the US’s top flight of football.

Just before 5pm we were at QWest field.  I ended up on the north side of the field waiting for a few friends to get there.  I was running around taking pics of all the crazy people, the scalpers and everything else I could find.  I got a pic of the notorious Jim Foreman of Channel 5 not live from Alki.  Once we had everyone we headed in and started up the ramp to our section 234 seats.  As much as wanted to be down in GA with ECS, I wanted to be with Amy, Todd and Tab for the first game since we have been waiting years for this.  Up in the club the feeling was not as exciting as it was up to this point.  As we walked in the club level it seemed to be lots of families and older folks that just wanted to be on the bandwagon.  In our section we had a few fans but most people I don’t expect to see at more then 5 games before they lose interest and sell their tickets.  It was what I would call the “Seattle Mariners” crowd.  This makes me a bit sad on one hand since they detract from the true supporter but on the other hand I am hoping that it brings the supporter feeling to them.

Todd and I went and bought some beers and nachos because it was kind of dinnertime and the parking lot hot dog was just not enough.  We got back to our seats and watched the pre game warm ups and watched KC Keller punt some 75-yard balls from the box.  The boys in green were also doing some triangle and square drills.  The Red Bulls were doing some basic warm ups but did not look like they wanted to be there.  I don’t blame them either.  I am pretty sure most of them have not played on a pitch that was as loud as QWest and they had no supporters in the stands.  Warm ups came to an end and the grounds crew started setting up the field for the pregame show.

The crowds were starting to fill up the lower bowl.  ECS was getting started on the Brougham end of the field (That would be the south side for those not into Seattle Geography).  They had the GA sections nicely done up in the standard banners and as they started piling in after a quick stop to the pisser and a beer run the were out in full force.  The band was also in the GA section, which seemed to drown out some of the chanting but I guess its part of the show.  As the terraces loaded up you could feel the excitement in the lower bowl.  You could tell many many people have been waiting a long time for this moment in history.  About 6pm the field was set and the announcers starting introducing the front office, Drew Carey, MLS Commish and WA Gov.  The Gov did get quite a few boo’s which does not really surprise me but apparently she is a season ticket holder.  During this time we had Cheerleaders (yes really), kids with all the flags of every FIFA nation and a giant Sounders Rave Green Jersey.

They played a short movie on the big screens about the worlds game and it coming to Seattle, which was nice.  About this time something happened in the ECS section that almost swell up with pride.  The full terrace section to section tifo display with the words “Today Our History Becomes Legend”.  If everyone only knew what would happen over the next 94 minutes of play that would make those words ring home unlike any other MLS expansion team in history.

Our Sounders walked out on the field in traditional fashion with the referees and Redbulls for the pictures and handshakes as well as the playing of the National Anthem.  The field clears and we are ready for the 2009 MLS season to start!  Its important to note that the 2009 MLS season will both start and end in Seattle with the MLS Cup being played in late November.

With both teams starting 11 on the field the center ref blows the whistle and we are ready to go!  The ball is in motion and the Sounders mid field starts working for the ball.  It was clear to me within the first 3 minutes of play that our Sounders team was going to be a very aggressive attacking team.  This proved true as we were winning balls and pushing the pace in the attacking half of the field from the get go.  This style is very South American and is also played by club teams in both Spain and Portugal.  It lends it self to both high scoring games (which Americans need) and a faster tempo which requires a strong mid field distribution and heavy dependence on a strong back line.  There were several questions pre match on if Seattle’s young back line could survive this style of play and as you will read at this end of this, they met the test and passed with flying colors.

The first 11 minutes went by quick as Seattle was winning the ball and pushing forward and making the Red Bulls work to find a defensive stance that would slow them down.  1 minute later I saw Sounders history.  Fredy Montero took a strike from about 14 yards out on the right side which found its way into the back of the net!  Fireworks and confetti and fans yelling filled the air of QWest field as the boys on the pitch got in a few hugs and celebrated the first of what all Sounders fans hope will be the first of many Sounders goals.  I think it took about 5 minutes before all the fans where able to calm down which was good because if they would have kept going, they would have missed what happened next….

Brad Evans gets the ball on the left side deep in the box on a Monero pass and 5 holes Red Bulls keeper and pops it in the lower right corner.  This of course sends the crowd back into a frenzy and the GA section who was just getting back to normal chants goes crazy again!!!  The air again is filled with blue, green and silver confetti that sparkled as it fell down to the pitch.  ECS banners up and chanting going on but it was hard to hear them over the Sound Wave band.  That is to bad because it would have been cool to hear them in our section so everyone can start to learn the chants.

The remaining portion of the half had the Sounders making some decent runs with a few more opportunities but nothing panned out.  We go back into the tunnel with a huge 2-0 lead.  Half time had some very American sports events which included kids running the length of the field in giant soccer balls with the goal of kicking the ball at the end in the goal.  Todd and I decided to bet before the race kicked off with each of us taking one of the kids.  The race started and my kid was flying down the field.  I thought I had it in the bag until the little shit got cocky and started to weave the field like a drunken fan.  Todds kid gets to his ball first but he shanks it and my weaving kid gets to his ball and he buries it for my one dollar win!  The big board also had some half time races which we bet on and i picked up another dollar!  To bad I only one enough to cover 1/4 of the cost of a bud light.

The boys in green head back on the field as we return from our journey to the rest room and we settle in for another 45 minutes of soccer fun.  The second half starts out as the first did except NY seemed to feel a bit of pressure being down from the first half and started to push a bit.  They did test our back line and KC Keller had to make a few saves (2 real shots on goal) but then at minute 75 Fredy Montero put it away for the Sounders when he took the ball from the NY defender and made a 40 dash to the keeper.  He had the keeper committed and slotted the 3 goal in impressive fashion.  The remaining parts of the game where filled with subs and halfhearted attempts by NY to get on the score sheet to no avail.

The 4th official put up the stoppage time of 2 minutes for the 2nd half and Sigi made a sub allowing Roger Levesque of USL Sounders history to come in and finish up for Montero which was a fitting end for the first 90 minutes of MLS club history.  The 2 minutes came to an end as KC punted the ball past midfield and the crowd went crazy for our newest chapter to the all but winning Seattle sports history.

In a year that saw Seattle sports at the bottom of everything last year the Sounders in 90 minutes may have brought back the hope of an entire city.  This year the Seahawks, Mariners and Huskies will have to fight to keep up with what could be a winning team in a sport that most Americans don’t even understand or care about.  Take notice Seattle as the Green and Blue of the Sounders make headlines.

As a footnote to this posting as of Sunday morning the Seattle Sounders are at the top of the table on goal differential with one game remaining for the week.  LETS GO SOUNDERS!

My Pics of all the above events are located here

Tonight our history becomes legend (this is not my image)

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