These days, it's good to be a Seattle sports fan. The Sounders are top of the league, the Seahawks are Super Bowl Champs, and there are rumblings of Seattle getting an NHL expansion team in the near future. Even the Mariners, who have had a losing record for five of the past six years, are hovering around .500 with a chance to really do some damage. For me, it was about time to catch an away match in the Emerald City.
My travel companions and I arrived Saturday morning, giving us ample time to explore the city. With our Quakes colors on, we started our walk near the famous Pike Place Market on the waterfront. Even in this area of town, well away from CenturyLink Field, we saw plenty of Emerald green jerseys. It was immediately clear that soccer Saturdays here were something special.
At the Pike Brewery we ran into fans from both Sporting Kansas City and Toronto FC. They wished us all the best, but didn't seem to be giving San Jose much of a chance against the league's best team. But it was genuinely cool to be able to speak with fans of teams who weren't even in town. Seattle's support for MLS has made it a destination for fans from all over the league, an MLS Mecca of sorts.
As we headed towards the stadium, there was an unmistakable buzz around the neighborhood. A live band was playing an outdoor event, with Sounders fans scattered everywhere. We stopped by just outside the gate to say a quick hello to the Ultras before heading into a bar across the street for one final round before kickoff. We got some funny looks as we screamed 'Go Earthquakes' as a toast. Nobody really gave us any trouble, however.
We walked to our seats in the midst of the much anticipated cauldron of noise. All were on their feet, and most stayed standing for the entirety of the match. Seattle's opening goal seemed to come out of nowhere, and felt like a jolt to those of us dressed in blue in the stands. The Quakes fought valiantly all match, but were ultimately too shorthanded up front to come up with the equalizer. Final score 1-0 Sounders.
So we left the stadium a bit disappointed, but with no regrets. What we saw in Seattle was a passionate and knowledgable fan base. We certainly didn't get along with every fan (there was some trash talking involved) but that's to be expected. There's something to be said for a team that can bring in 40,000+ fans to a stadium any time it opens the upper deck.
It was a great weekend, and I'm eagerly anticipating my return. Right now, Seattle remains the example for most other MLS teams to follow. With the new stadium less than a year away for the Earthquakes, here's hoping that San Jose joins them at the forefront.