I was introduced to the beautiful game by a friend of mine while stationed on a submarine in San Diego. We watched the USMNT play Korea on a Sunday night in a pub. It was a draw, but I was hooked.
Odd thing about getting a hundred or so people from all over into one little living space, home pride is huge. My friend is from Wisconsin, is all about the Pack and Marquette, but was also a huge backer of the US team. I became one as well. Over the next few years, I watched another WC, caught the occasional EPL match, but longed for a team in Seattle, close to home.
I just now put my Quakes shirt in the goodwill. I tried to back them, they were the closest geographically (the same logic that made me a San Francisco Demons fan for about 12 minutes) and they had some names I recognized. My wife and I went to see the boys play in San Jose earlier this season, garnering me a, "Seriously?" from my better half upon finding the shirt. I told her it wasn't the same team. That team moved to Texas.
Then, one day, I'm between classes and learn that Seattle has been awarded an MLS team. Holy crap. I finally get to experience the feeling of getting in on the ground floor with a new franchise, being down from day one as Cashmere kids like me banging the Chronic used to say. Couldn't wait.
Alliance, FC, Republic- all seemed off a little, too odd for my tastes. I was impressed by the write in vote to save the Sounders name, but didn't grasp the history that was being continued until a few of the OGs set me straight online. There was passion here. I watched as much of the first season as I could, but couldn't as much as I'd wanted.
Next up, my first match live. The second season, I took another friend to the Colorado match at home, hoping to impart some of what struck me so many years ago onto him. The first thing I noticed was the ECS. From the second they entered until the last man left, they filled that arena. I knew I had to be a part of that and the next season, I was.
No matches live in '12, but shelled out the dough to watch every match from the comfort of my couch. Another rollercoaster, but no low could have beaten the high of Zak returning to the pitch that season.
This year, my wife, my older brother and I attended the aforementioned SJ match with the ECS and loved every second of it, even with the scoreline. We sang our hearts out, rattled the bleachers with our pogoing and very possibly drank them out of good beer. Couldn't speak for much of the next day after that. "Our garden shed is bigger than this" still cracks me up.
My wife surprised me on our anniversary with tickets to the Vancouver match at home. The last home match. You saw the match, I'll highlight the rest: We went to Fuel beforehand and wall flowered for a bit, before a nice gentleman with a skull bowtie invited us to sit with him. From there we were inundated with ECS love. Pins for scarves, chatting with fans old and new, beers imbibed. Joe Roth wandering in, letting me shake his hand, asking me to call him "just Joe." The march was insane. We had great seats. My cousin was there and we got to say hi. More beer was imbibed.
This is what I love about this fanbase. That was the worst match I've seen these boys play and I still had a great time. The passion of the ECS is infectious. It was even a little bit fun watching the drunken Canadians party at our expense (politely, of course). I love these fans.
I also love this team. I love how Mauro cares. I love that EJ doesn't show that he does. I love the Oba flip. I love HB taking over the midfield. I love Lamar putting one across when you don't expect him to. I love Brad Evans pulling out plays you didn't know he had in him. I love the blinding flash that is Yedlin, the tenacity that is Gonzales, the old school passion of ZSMM, the lunchpail guy in Traore. Burch's perfect hair. Moffat's beard. Zak on the way back. SJ taking a pay cut. FREAKING DEUCE!!! Hahnemann getting reds off the pitch. GSP being the crazy bastard that he is. Sigi wearing the scarf. Schmetzer reading tweets. Fletcher and KK calling it.
There's a lot to love here and I do.
I'm over Colorado. I'm over Vancouver. I'm over Portland. It's simple: two matches, three points. There is calculus that gets us there without those points, but three points guarantees playoffs. And then who knows?
Come on, Seattle. Fight. And win.