Everybody, it seems, has their own personal Roger Levesque story, a story about when the Sounders legend went out of his way to be open, accommodating and friendly to them. This is mine.
It takes place in 2009, on September 2, on perhaps the very best day in Levesque's career. The Open Cup Championship day. The day the Sounders flew into Washington D.C. and claimed their first-ever trophy, which, of course, Levesque sealed with his tap-in goal that proved to be the final margin of victory.
I was lucky enough to be one of the 200 or 300 stationed in the upper deck of RFK Stadium that night. My dad (to whom I eternally owe infinite beers) had purchased the plane tickets, the hotel room and the match tickets. We did our best to stage a two-man Sounder invasion of the city. We wore our rave green jerseys everywhere - even Arlington National Cemetery, which I thought might have been a tad disrespectful until I noticed a scowling, tattooed woman in DC gear at the Tomb of the Unknown - and attracted a fair bit of curious tourist attention by juggling a Sounders mini-ball on the lawn outside the White House.
Needless to say, the entire trip was a success even before the game. Then the game happened.
After the game, we were among the 200 or 300 singing and chanting deliriously until the RFK staff literally turned out the lights on us and ushered us out. Chanting "We just won the US Open Cup!" followed by the appropriate number of claps, it was hard to imagine how, for two die-hard Sounder fans, the evening could get any better.
This is the point where the greatness of Roger Levesque becomes part of the story.
Myself and my father were enjoying a postgame bite and beer at the Hawk N' Dove, an excellent little divey place in the heart of DC. The rest of the ECS was going elsewhere, but we had an 8 a.m. (!!!) flight the next morning and needed somewhere closer to our hotel for our celebrations. This turned out to be a brilliant stroke of luck, because as we were halfway through our burgers, a woman approached our table.
She asked if we were Sounders fans. We looked down at our entirely green attire and cleverly replied "...yes?" To this, she said, "I don't know if you know this, but Roger Levesque is sitting outside." Roger evidently was not traveling back to Seattle with the team immediately, as he had friends in D.C., and was sitting at an outdoor table drinking beer with said friends. The woman invited us to join them, but as she left, asked us to wait five minutes before joining them, so as not to make it obvious she had invited us. My dad looked at me. I looked at my dad. We waited maybe 60 seconds, tops, before hurrying outside.
And that's how we ended up drinking with Roger Levesque two hours after he scored the winning goal in the U.S. Open Cup Final. Roger was delighted to talk to two Sounders fans who were complete strangers (and perhaps also delighted that he had a full pitcher in front of him). He signed my dad's shirt and listened to me babble about how I was an aspiring soccer writer, happy and friendly and smiling through all of it.
That wasn't enough for my dad, though. See, my unlucky younger brother Jake had remained home in Seattle during this trip, and had watched the game on TV. So my dad informed Roger of a plan he was concocting, gave my brother a ring on his cell, and told Jake that someone wanted to talk to him before handing the phone to Roger. The following conversation then took place - word for word, as best I can tell.
"Hey Jake, it's Roger."
"Oh....... nice goal!"
Two hours after winning the Sounders their first-ever major trophy, Roger Levesque was happily chatting to a 17-year-old stranger on the other side of the country and smiling about it. Two hours earlier, thousands of people across the country watched him become a hero on the pitch. Right then, he was becoming a hero to two guys in a bar.
I don't pretend to know Roger personally, but in that one half-hour interaction, I saw him as a humble, genuine person. The kind of man I'd like to be. The kind of player I'm proud was, is, and always will be, a Sounder.