Let me start by saying that I'm a DC United fan through and through and there is no hope of convincing me otherwise. When I was six years old, I cried tears of joy when Eddie Pope headed home the overtime winner against the LA Galaxy in the inaugural MLS Cup. The decision to root for DC United was impacted my uncle, who went to UNC. He was a big Eddie Pope fan, they graduated from the same Tar Heel class before Bruce Arena tagged Pope as his starting fullback.
Unlike some of my black and red brethren, I have always admired the Sounders. Along with being a DC United fan, I have been an American soccer fan and especially a Major League Soccer fan for as long as I can remember. I was emotionally invested in the league when contraction threatened the league's existence in the early naughts.
Watching the Sounders' first game in MLS was an inspirational experience. Y'all (we in NC use y'all) sold out your NFL stadium, shouted and sang the entire game as the Sounders pounded the hated (for DC United fans) New York. From that point forward, the Sounders vaulted to #2 on my personal MLS list. I love that y'all have built a culture that looks and feels European, shoving it in the face of all those who say soccer can't work in this country.
Since that match happened, I knew I would have to experience that firsthand. Luckily, I will soon have the opportunity to live in Seattle and do exactly that.
As a result, I have a couple of questions for the Sounders fans.
Would the Sounder community accept me, knowing my soccer heart lies in the other Washington?
I see this as being easier to accept now that the MLS schedule is unbalanced and my beloved football team will only visit Seattle every other year. Make no mistake, when this happens I will be showing up in full black and red with a Screaming Eagles scarf draped around my neck. But I want to immerse myself in a true soccer culture (I say soccer deliberately) and be a part of it, and I don't plan on living in DC when they build their new stadium.
Is it okay if I respect/kinda like the Timbers?
Or is this more like a Carolina-Dook thing, where you pick one and hate the other out of principle. Understand that my main fascination with the Sounders is a respect for the tremendous fan culture. Make no mistake, I believe DC United has the best fan rep of the original teams. Sure, our attendance has taken a drop of late, but we haven't sniffed the playoffs since 2007 and our building is literally falling apart. Once they build DC United Stadium, our fanbase will look like a more rabid version of Kansas City's at home games.
Either way, the point is that I cheer on specific teams but I also cheer when MLS grounds are filled and noisy. Seattle has this. So does Portland. I like, respect, and appreciate both. To a lesser extent, I appreciate Vancouver too (they seem like the NC State in the Carolina-Dook analogy). I plan on driving my Subaru (not meant to pander, I promise) down to Portland and up to Vancouver to enjoy their fan experiences too.
Any other suggestions?
Like I said, I do not plan on switching allegiances, merely propping up a secondary one. However, I recognize it is entirely possible that the green sea I plan to dip my toes in may wash over me. It is also entirely possible that my home state of North Carolina, where all my non-soccer/baseball allegiances lie, will get an MLS team of their own, further fracturing my loyalties.
Whatever happens, I am open to it. I just hope that the Sounder community is open to people like me.