I'm sitting on an airplane somewhere over Arizona and running back the images of what I saw last night in Seattle over and over again in my head. No matter what aspect of the experience I reflect upon, the common denominator is one sentence that keeps repeating over and over again in my mind.
This is f***ing awesome.
Hopefully Macklemore and Ryan Lewis don't mind be borrowing that line, but something tells me they'd be alright with it.
What else is awesome? The Sounders are 2-0 in Cascadia Cup home matches this season with The Ginge in the building. Good-luck charm material right there.
I wrote about the expectations and hopes I had for my trip to Seattle to attend the latest meeting between the Sounders and the Portland Timbers. I knew it was going to be special but until you actually experience the greatest rivalry MLS has to offer in person, you really can't understand just how much fun it is.
Anyone who isn't a fan of these two teams are already rolling their eyes and readying another joke about "switching teams" at my expense, but who cares.
I feel bad for them. I feel bad for all the people who are so jaded and annoyed by Cascadia that they will probably deny themselves the opportunity to ever experience it for themselves. It really should be homework for American soccer fans to make the trip to Seattle or Portland and be in the stadium when these two rivals meet. You don't have to like either team, you don't have to care one lick about the result, but I'm pretty certain you'd still have a blast.
I sure did and meeting Megan Rapinoe made it awesomer...even though I don't think that's a word.
Either my mind is blown or the two hours of sleep from the last 27-plus hours is catching up to me, but I'm leaning toward my mind being blown.
After all, I stood in a stadium with 67,385 people watching two American soccer teams play a regular-season game. I did not expect to ever have that experience without traveling to Europe but on Sunday night I did, right here in the good ol' USA.
From high atop the northwest ramp I witnessed the mother of all Marches to the Match as the Emerald City Supporters led a massive throng of humanity down Occidental Avenue South past the stadium toward the Brougham End. I was amazed by the march back in June before the game against the Whitecaps but Sunday's march absolutely blew it out of the water.
As the front end of the march passed the northwest corner of the stadium, people were still rounding the corner off South King Street. My friend Jeff estimated that it took more than 12 minutes for the entire march to pass by. Are you kidding me?!
I stood in section 114 with my friend Nate who gave me one of his tickets and felt my jaw hit the ground as the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, personified by artistic rendering of Michael Gspurning, Eddie Johnson, Brad Evans and Osvaldo Alonso rose in tifo form from the south end. The ECS have created some amazing tifos since their arrival in MLS back in 2009 but the sheer scale of Sunday's display that wrapped around the entire lower south end was something to see.
Even the Timbers Army had a tifo! A visiting tifo! In MLS!
I stood for 90 minutes as the Sounders and Timbers played a physical and hard-fought match. There were tremendous saves, a hot crossbar, a lovely goal, pushing and shoving, controversy, ugliness, basically everything you'd want from a rivalry match.
Throughout it all the 67,385 fans in the stadium oozed passion and emotion.
In the 60th minute when Eddie Johnson headed Mauro Rosales' free kick past Donovan Ricketts, the loudest combined explosion of sound created by human vocals chords that I ever heard shook CenturyLink Field. My ears hurt it was so loud.
The nervous tension of the final five minutes of stoppage time as the Timbers threatened to find an equalizer was intense beyond belief. You could feel the combined stress and fear of every Sounders fan as they willed their team to hold on to the victory. The release of joy at the final whistle was like an audible exhale of held breath followed by pandemonium.
Congratulations to you Sounders fans for an tremendous night and a truly historic event in American soccer history. Thank you for allowing me to stand with you and soak in easily the greatest live soccer experience I've yet had.
That was f***ing awesome.