Looking back on my first-ever away trip, the thing I notice most now are the bruises. There's a hint of pain, but they feel more like badges of honor and reminders of the thrills that come no matter the result. Certainly the loss to the Portland Timbers dampened the excitement. But the legacy of that trip will not be in the result.
My memories will forever be locked into meeting up with the community that I'm both part of and not part of (definitions of community being what they are). At about noon, I met the hundreds gathered who would make the bus trek from just south of Seattle. The bus I chose (the Yedlin) was based on the first ECS member that asked me "Dave, what bus are you on?" and then taking their suggestion.
It would become a bus trip that will now live in infamy.
There was beer on the bus. It was a sneak preview of something not yet for public consumption. Produced by an ECS partner I will just say this - you will get to enjoy the new flavor profile soon and shame on you for not traveling.
Yedlin stopped in Tacoma as more people came from that fair town than could fit on one bus. After some hanging out and supplying of the Tacoma-only bus, the real adventure began. Every noob or first-timer introduced themselves. You'd think after five years or so of MLS-level Emerald City Supporting that number would be small.
It was not. Maybe a full quarter of the bus were first timers. Despite my minor celebrity within the Seattle soccer community, I was not the most famous man on the bus as the Gasman got randomly assigned to Yedlin. He's got a book coming out soon and while he's done a bit of Seattle soccer, this was his first as well.
Introductions were simple.
"I'm Dave. This is my first time. I've been a season-ticket holder for five seasons. My favorite Sounders memory is..." Mine was still the Fucito winner over KC. It was appropriately the first time I'd done an ECS gameday event.
Then there was much beer. Beer flowed a lot. But it wasn't the emphasis.
The emphasis was on singing the songs and meeting each other. These would be my neighbors for the next few hours on a bus, a few hours in the Glass House and a few hours going back. My seatmate, Rob, was someone I'd never met in the community before, but at the end of the trip we were best friends (hypebole!).
In all seriousness that's really what every one of my supporters' group experiences has been about - meeting new people through love of Sounders. I met a lot of new people.
We screamed. We sang. Flags waved and the view sucked.
The partnership, camaraderie and love of team did not.
There are other ways to do away trips. I'm certain I would enjoy those as well. Would I enjoy them as much? I'll likely find out over the next couple years. For a first-ever away trip, I can not think of a better way to do it than to do Portland away with ECS.
With many hours of planning to address transportation, hydration (actual and mythical), security and more the trip went off with only the most minor of incidents. Improvements could be made. I'm certain that someone within the hierarchy is working on doing just that.
Other people may have other stories. This is mine. It ends with new friends and the knowledge that the next time those tix are on sale my digits will enter into that little magic money taking box. I'm planning on bringing a shiny thing on down. Trophies not Timbers.