Passion for soccer can appear in many different ways. For most of the writers on this site it is displayed in a generally intellectual approach to things. On gamedays that means that I want to see the action on the field while standing next to my family and pre-Sounders friends.
But once a year I change things up. Many of the commenters here are Supporters, with that capital S. They've supported Sounder at Heart and Dave Clark in many endeavors. They visit my turf. Once a year, I go to those friends' turf and enter the world that is the Brougham End.
Pregaming started at a simple time of 4:30 PM, unlike my first ever journey into their sanctum, a 9 AM pregame. Unlike the derby days the atmosphere was casual, simple, and friendly. It was like when you go to a family reunion and reconnect with the cousins that you like, but don't keep in regular contact with.
After 90 minutes or so of chatter about why I do this thing and the upcoming match it was time to March to the Match. What a time it was. I often march, but rarely right near the front. To be surrounded by your fellow man (and women) chanting in unison with onlookers from street, patio and rooftop staring at you hits you in the feelings. It is not conscious. You sing. You chant. You love each other. You love Seattle and Sounders FC. Your love is heard.
At the stadium places are taking. While it is GA it is clear that there are pockets where people regularly congregate. I hung out with the topo (a capo many rows back to help maintain the rhythm). Various subgroups associate together. Yet, everyone is there for one thing - to show support for the Sounders.
The sheer volume of organized noise is intense. Sure, there are flags in the way (you may have noticed the list version of a recap), but the passion is clear and obvious. And goodness, the volume. My voice is kind of shot, which will make non-soccer job Monday difficult.
Bouncing and pogo-ing for nearly 90 minutes is brutal on my old body. That would be part of why I didn't participate at 100%. I also had my stern face a bit too often as the match had me on edge.
The thrill of those goals though. The thrill of those goals. I know excitement, but come from behind goals while in GA are an experience you must enjoy at some point in your life. Strangers don't just hug you, they become you for a few moments. They shared joy is pure and shared.
That's kind of ECS really. The sharing of pure joy.
I can only survive one, or two (if I do Portland Away this year), a year. But each time I do I wish I was young enough to do that every day.