Thursday, November 26, 2009

Futbol fun in Seattle!

So, three nights ago, a dream came true:

I went to a soccer game in America, and the stadium was packed! My dad and I had season tickets to the Kansas City Wizards (the "Wiz", as they were, back in the day) for a few years in the late 90s, and I've sorely missed the excitement of watching live soccer since then. Watching on TV just isn't the same; you can't see all the movement on the field. You miss out on so much strategy-ogling. And the crowd rowdiness...the bands! The cheering! Those obnoxious long noise-stick-things!
...the waaaaaaaaave!

I had an opportunity to watch Croatia play Israel when I was in Zagreb a few years ago...I still don't remember why I let that opportunity pass me by (money, probably?), but it was silly. So to have a big soccer game planted in my front yard is a huge deal! And I mean that front-yard bit almost literally; my doorstep is in within walking distance of Qwest Field = no pesky $30 parking fees for me! Although apparently there wouldn't have been any anyway; VW is a sponsor of the MLS and offers VW's complimentary parking at games...what?! Awesome!

But anyway. The point is that Michael and I got $25 tickets (!!!) to the Real Salt Lake vs. LA Galaxy game on Sunday. For those who don't know, the MLS Cup is the Super Bowl of real futbol. The Seattle's MLS-debuting Sounders FC had a great first season, but didn't make it all the way to the Cup - but Seattle won hostmanship (?) of the final game months back. I can't think of a better city, as Seattleites have shown an unbelievable amount of enthusiasm for the sport. Average attendance at Sounders' matches trumps average attendance for both the Kansas City Royals' and the Cleveland Indians' 2009 seasons. Soccer, more popular than baseball, in a US city?

= Reason 23498235 I love this city. As though I needed any more...

The excitement began with the official March to the Match - swarms of screaming soccer fans, all decked out in jerseys and team scarves and painted faces, and a marching band that played renditions of contemporary radio hits. A seriously awesome, and proud, experience to march through Seattle with a bunch of like-minded futbol hooligans!

For our money, the Cup gave us the absolute maximum amount of soccer we could have asked for. The teams had tied the last four times they'd played each other, and this time was no different; after 90 minutes of regulation play, the score was 1-1. After 30 more minutes of over time, the scoreboard hadn't budged. They even managed to tie their first set of shootouts. Finally on sudden death shootouts, Salt Lake proved triumphant. (I won't try to recreate the match itself in writing; I am not a sports writer. Maybe I'll work on it. But not on Thanksgiving Eve.)

Yup, we had a blast. Sure, it was cold, but...the March to the Match warmed us up, and the couple pre-game beers across the street at the local Pyramid Brewery kept us toasty, and the crowd energy was awesome...a few especially rowdy RSL fans behind us swearing their heads off at David Beckham ("God hates you, David Beckham!" - Is that the way Utahn's call it? Ah, I won't let a few bad eggs ruin my entire opinion of a state I otherwise love, but man do I hate bad sportsmanship...)

Otherwise, the game was absolutely fantastic - all I'd dreamed it would be. I can't wait to become a serious Sounders fan in the coming years. Lucky for me, albeit entirely unknowingly, I bought a rain jacket I at Dick's back in Ohio the day I decided officially to move to Seattle, and it is totally in Sounders colors. I was clearly destined to be a Sounders fan.

Michael pulls his hood up to shield himself from the celebratory confetti blasted out in jet streams periodically throughout the game.

My new boots are certainly covering a lot of ground! Michael, in addition to modeling the snazzy Arc'teryx jacket pictured above, is also sporting some of the most awesome hiking boots ever created: the Zamberlan Vioz. Available at REI. Just sayin'.

Also: Qwest Field offers a fantastic view of the skyline:

I'm learning it's hard to go anywhere in Seattle and not have a fantastic view in at least one direction. Which is probably Reason 23498236 I love this city.

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