Chris Coulter - SoundersPhotos.com
This is not about fury, or about just rewards for supporting club soccer in good numbers. For the United States to make this decision it needs to be about one thing first and foremost - winning the game. This is why Columbus will host Mexico - dos e cero is a powerful thing. This is why Salt Lake or Denver will likely be a lead-in match prior to away at Azteca - because high elevation is also a powerful thing.
But this post is not going to be about the USMNT's strong record in Seattle. Sure, they are 6-1-1 +13 in their matches here in the Emerald City and that's pretty good. The only loss was to Poland when I was 41 days old. The only tie was to Russia in the Kingdome on the actual crappy surface there. Other than that it is all wins. That's impressive. One of those wins was even against one of the opponents for the rumored June 11th or 18th games - Honduras.
History is a good start.
But the type of crowd is another way to do something that is rarely done in US Soccer - a huge pro-American crowd. That Honduras match had more than 38,000 and almost all for the home team.
The expected crowd of more than 30,000 fans at Safeco figures to be far more unanimously partisan for the home team, though probably better behaved than the divided throng of 54,000 in Washington, D.C.
"I don't think there are many Hondurans in the Seattle area," said U.S. goalkeeper Kasey Keller, a Lacey native.
That was from the Seattle P-I's preview of the match. A match in a baseball stadium, with sod overlay on the infield and a small local soccer team able to aid in promoting it. The Mariners probably helped, and they were big back in that day. They were not Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Sounders FC combined might big though.
When the Sounders front office declared that they would be willing to host the USA in World Cup Qualifying it was a statement that they would do things big. They always do things big. This is the organization with 9 of the top 20 attended soccer games in America in 2012. The USA only had two matches in the top 20.
This is the organization with four straight records for season average attendance in MLS and almost certainly a fifth in 2013. The season ticket base for the combined Seahawks/Sounders org is about 100,000. They then have emails for former season ticket holders, current wait-listers and those that just opt into their announcements. This is an organization where big is not big enough.
There is no reason to think the crowds would fail. Those questions are answered. They were answered in 2009 when people thought this team could not sell 20,000 seats to regular season games.
A huge crowd also helps with the other thing that US Soccer needs from a host venue. Reason number two is money. The big crowd answers both of reason one and reason two. There is a large swath ofwho never had the opportunity to travel to a USA "home" match that is a thousand plus miles away. They will turn out. They will be activated. They will be in Red, White and Blue.
You could doubt it. But then you would be falling into the multi-year trap of the primarily East Coast media who think that the Sounders couldn't move the needle. What ever bar is set to call a match here a business success will be crushed.
Overconfident? No. Nine of twenty. Only Brazil was the only bigger soccer draw than the sport in Seattle. Not Mexico, not the Galaxy. Not the USA in random "sure thing" host cities. Not Chelsea, nor Liverpool, nor AC Milan, nor Real Madrid.
38,000+ in 2002 watched a less well-known team play in a stadium not even designed for soccer play on a grass overlay. Eleven years later, in a 67 thousand seater designed from day one to host the sport with the massive mailing list and marketing power of the Sounders and Seahawks behind it?
Success will be the only option.
Is this arrogance? Yes. It is the earned arrogance of success and the recognition that we in Seattle are not entitled to a match, but deserving. It is the recognition that we here in the Sound are primed and ready. It is an arrogance that "you've had your chance, here's mine." It is the arrogance of knowing that we do this soccer thing damn well.
USSF! Let my city host!