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Archive for the ‘Up you Sounders!’ Category

Vancouver away

I ventured north to my second Sounders away game last weekend. Vancouver entered the league this year, and it’s nice to be able to go see the Sounders while driving less than a home game requires.

Border 1

Experience for yourself, the most interesting conversation I’ve ever had with a border guard.

“You guys didn’t take the bus?”

“Ah, no.”

“Good idea. It was nasty. I just got done checking it.”

“Yeah, they’ve probably been drinking for a while.”

Yeah, they’d been drinking for a while. And it was all coming out. Down the aisles. Down the stairs. Nasty.”

“Oh, man.”

“Have a good time.”

Game start time stress

I suffer from a little-known malady I describe as game time start stress. I hate to miss a thing. A few things that contribute to this stress:

  1. Border waits
  2. Traffic
  3. Canadian drivers
  4. Parking
  5. Dining
  6. Walking

But it was all good. We weathered some slow traffic, found a free parking spot, had time to partake in some Vietnamese food, and didn’t even have to run to our seats.

ECS in the house

The Sounders and Whitecaps agreed to an allotment of 500 tickets for away supporters. I did not join in this festive group. I like to watch a game. However, when purchasing tickets of my own, I snagged the same section. Lucky for us, we were sitting directly below the fevered group. All of the energy, none of the obstructed views!

Our seats at Century Link Field have a great view of the supporters, but they’re a little far away to keep track of and join in chants. No problem hearing them this time. In fact, we couldn’t hear much else. I lost my voice for the first time this year, chanted away, and generally had an excellent time.

It might have been nice to be across the field, where maybe we could have heard some back and forth between the ECS and the Southsiders. Maybe next time.

Game on

In convenient bullet points:

  • Early goal for Vancouver. Eh…
  • Vancouver’s speed gave us a lot of problems, along with a linesman who had difficulty with offsides.
  • Thank god Brad is back so someone can make PKs.
  • The second half was better, with us controlling the game much more.
  • Fredy Montero.
  • Fredy Montero.
  • Win.

Empire Field

Is a rickety thing, eh? This was the last game in this temporary stadium. It was nice to go there, I guess. But it will be nicer to drive half as far and take the SkyTrain directly to BC Place.

Cascadia Cup

Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver compete for a supporters’ trophy known as the Cascadia Cup. With our victory over the Whitecaps, we clinched said trophy for 2011. Conveniently, previous holders Portland (who took it last year when it was just between PDX and Van) where on hand to fork it over. So sad for them. Sitting where we were we had a great view of the trophy presentation. A few players hoisted it, and then it made its way up the stands to the supporters’ groups. Pretty wild, it was.

The Whitecaps even set off some fireworks to help us celebrate. Or, they were “Goodbye Empire Field” fireworks. We’ll take the three points and your fireworks, thank you very much. The Whitecaps team was walking around with a “Farewell Empire Field” banner. They looked pitiful and ignored. I felt a little bad for them, but then I saw Sounder Servando Carrasco’s girlfriend and US Women’s Natinal Team player Alex Morgan and I forgot all about it.

Border 2

“What did you do in Canada?”

“Watched the Sounders beat Vancouver.”

[Silence.]

“Are you bringing anything back with you?”

“Just the sweet taste of victory?” Oh my god what am I doing this guy is not amused oh man oh man.

[Silence.]

“Have a good night.”

Bonus State Patrol Experience

A little too wired on the way home. I missed the sign for reduced speed approaching Bellingham. I saw the patrol car ahead of me, checked my speed, and wondered why they were driving so slow as I passed them. They answered my question by immediately pulling behind me and flashing these really bright red and blue lights.

The officer gave me shit for living in Bellingham and not knowing exactly where the speed reduced, but then she noticed that it was my birthday in an hour and she chilled out a little and gave me a verbal warning. So my advice is to only drive past a cop going ten miles over the limit on the night before your birthday. Works every time.

And

I’m definitely going to see the Sounders win in Vancouver every year.

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In an overscheduled week, during an overscheduled month.

I’m pretty busy, and pretty tired. But a trophy helps.

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I have seen my beloved-but-recently-somewhat-neglected Mariners in two away games: Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park. However, I did not travel to these historic locales to see the Mariners play lose. In both cases, I was already in these places, and the Mariners just happened to coincide. In fact, I likely would have tried to go to both of those storied grounds whether the Mariners were playing or not.

I once saw a Bellingham Bells away game, too. It was slightly more significant in terms of travel purpose, since I certainly wouldn’t have made the short skip to E. Bremerton (I was already on Bainbridge at the time) just to watch the Kitsap Bluejackets take on who-the-hell-knows. The Bells won, by the way, and I was appalled by the heckling, taunting behavior of the Kitsap players. It was very strange.

So now here I am, four home games into my deep Sounders fanaticism, and I’ve come to a milestone: Away support.

The closest MLS team to the Sounders is the San Jose Earthquakes. I’ve thought about going down for a game, with money I don’t have, on an easy Allegiant Air flight from Bellingham to Oakland. My brother-in-law is moving to Denver; is a trip to Colorado for visits and Rapids in the future?

Really, anything involving air travel is pretty much out of my range and out of my means at the moment. So despite my desire to see my Sounders succeed in a multitude of MLS cities, it isn’t likely to happen anytime soon.

But when an opportunity presents itself, well…

The Lamar Hunt US Open Cup is the longest running team sports tournament in the United States. It is open to any soccer team in the country, from the highest level, MLS, to the lowest, the organization I play in, the United States Adult Soccer Association. The Sounders gained entry into the tournament this year through two play-in games, and their first official match-up, determined geographically, was the Portland Timbers.

The Timbers play in the second division of US soccer, the USL. This is the league the Sounders departed when they made the move to MLS, and the league PDX and Vancouver will depart when they make the same move in 2011. The rivalry between PDX, Seattle, and Vancouver is deep, spanning 30 years, and is amplified by the fact that The Sounders and the Whitecaps have frequently found league success, while the Timbers never have. This Seattle point in this three-way rivalry has been set aside until 2011, barring some unlikely circumstances.

Being, of course, the US Open Cup. Seattle Sounders at Portland Timbers, July 1, 2009.


Shit, I can drive to Portland. Though perhaps more specifically, my brother can drive to Portland.

So off we went, to the hostile territory on the state of Oregon, to watch the Sounders, hopefully, destroy their historic foes.

And I say hostile because the Timbers likely have the largest organized supporters’ group in all of US soccer. They are frequently loud, frequently drunk, and frequently stupid. The subcultured hipness that made Portland’s bike scene so damn…cool is the same force that led Portlanders to fully, heartily adopt a very European style of soccer support.

*And while I love to see supporters’ groups waving their flags and chanting away, I want no part of it because (a) I don’t want a goddamn flag obscuring my view, (b) I don’t want to be surrounded by drunk people, and (c) I can’t stand the shit superiority complex most “official” supporters have (even if they insist that they do not). Which, by the way, is probably part of the reason they get into conflicts occasionally.

To hear less recent Sounders fans tell it, going to Portland would be like entering a war zone. Stolen scarves, beer throwing, harassment, heckling, etc.

I was a little nervous. The Sounders supporter group is nice and all, and they’ve had a lot of growth this year, but the Timbers’ Army is large, loud, and rowdy. See?

The Timbers’ front office sent a letter to the Timbers’ Army asking them to be on their best behavior, to show that Portland is a city of MLS quality. It’s funny that they need to be babysat. But it’s also scary that they needed to be reminded to behave, as if it is their nature not to.

I went through alternating waves of panic and calm as match day approached.

But when we walked by the stadium we saw Sounders fans moving without harassment, and come game time the ECS was chanting away in a large group by the entrance, Some nice chants, some not so nice. Safety in numbers. But where were our seats?

Our seats were: Behind and to the right of Sounders fans; next to Sounders fans; two rows in front of Sounders fans; and directly in front of Timbers fans. 10 year-old Timbers fans.

Whew. Nothing to fear!

And then the Sounders scored in the first 45 seconds. According to the cheering, we had plenty of folks who had our backs.

Victory in an opponent’s home is a wonderful thing to see.

But on the way out I did have a run-in with a Timbers supporter. He ran up to me and asked, “Hey! Hey, where’d you get the corporate scarf?” I didn’t really know how to answer, since my brother got it for me off a lamp post in Fremont. PDX likes to pile on our corporate sponsors and sudden growth in support, but they’ll be enjoying the same effect in a of couple years.

2011 will be the start of a glorious tradition. Portland away. Vancouver away. Sounders, Sounders, Sounders! I can’t wait.

I have no animosity in particular toward Portland, and certainly not toward Vancouver, who I think has a classy organization. However, they’ll be in our division, so I hope they never win a game, always draw when they play each other, and always lose when they play us. Thus

Build a bonfire
Build a bonfire
Put the Timbers on the top
Put the Whitecaps
In the middle
And we’ll burn the fuckin’ lot

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In eight days, the new MLS franchise in our great Pacific Northwest, the Seattle Sounders FC, will present itself to the world. For the last, oh, maybe five or six months, I’ve often had a hard time not thinking about the Sounders several times per hour.

I am obsessed.

At this time of year, I would typically be Mariners-crazy. I’m still paying attention to them, but not as much. There’s a new toy in town, and I want to play with it. I will always love the Mariners. I will always go to Safeco, and cheer and read and argue and support all things Mariners. They are my team.

So as the big day for soccer in Washington approaches, I began to think more about soccer, and the teams I support, and why, and if I should, or can, or what.

Soccer has always been my favorite sport to play. Probably because it is the one that I’m the best at. But also because it is such a wonderful, perfect game. And while I’ve played since I can remember, I have not followed soccer teams in any way until quite recently.

As a youth (ah, youth!), I did attend a game of the Tacoma Stars. Indeed, while at the venerable Northwest Soccer Camp one year, I bought some soccer cards, which included stars of MISL. And further, I attended, later, the mini soccer camp of one Joe Waters, and got myself an autograph, which is somewhere, but I don’t know where.

I did, as well, attend a game of the Seattle Storm. Also, once, a game of the Seattle Seadogs.

I have seen Russia v. USA at the Kingdome, with the winning goal on a header by Alexi Lalas, Canadian women vs. Mexico, the Sounders v. Whitecaps in exhibition in Bellingham, and recently DC United v. Real Madrid. My list of soccer matches is not long, but it is not empty.

Perhaps three years ago I decided I needed a team to follow. I did not choose the USL Sounders, or the Whitecaps of Vancouver, each equidistant from my home. The second-tier status of the USL kept me away. I wanted a “real” team. A big team. A known team.

So to Europe I go, of course.

(more…)

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