As you walk into CenturyLink Field tonight take a moment to look around. No, there won't be 50,000 people there like many of us had hoped, but there should be at least 35,000. Another U.S. Open Cup attendance record is guaranteed to fall and the Seattle Sounders will have once again raised the bar.
But look beyond the sheer numbers. You will almost certainly notice that every single one of them is standing, and you can bet they'll stay that way throughout the match. The reason is simple: We'll be too anxious to sit.
A U.S. Open Cup title is on the line. For the Sounders, it's a chance at three in a row. For the Chicago Fire, it's a chance to be mentioned in the same breath as Bethlehem Steel and Maccabi Los Angeles as five-time champions. Either way, history will be made.
Those of us who will be there are undoubtedly aware of all of this, and because of that, the energy will be palpable. "Boom, Boom, Clap" will be a goosebump moment. "Roll on Columbia" will hopefully have a few extra participants. Maybe a couple extra sections will even join in on "Seattle Sounders Ole."
No, Tuesday will not be the biggest crowd of the season. In fact, it may actually be one of the smaller ones. But don't let yourself believe that people don't care about this game. If anything, it's further proof that Sounders fans really do "get it," whatever that means.
No matter how we want to spin it, we all know that several thousand of those roughly 32,000 season-ticket holders are some odd mix of scalpers, scenesters and corporate suits. They will not be in attendance tonight. More than likely, they will be blissfully unaware that someone is witnessing history while occupying "their" seats.
Anyone who was at last year's Open Cup final knows what I mean. There may have been just over 31,000 there that night, but if you closed your eyes, you could swear it was twice that. Passion was making up the deficit, and I fully expect more of the same this time.
The lower bowl will be jam packed. The Hawks Nest should be as well. There might be about half as many people in the house as there was for Manchester United, but the passion will exceed that night by infinity.
This will be a night for the faithful.
None of this is meant as an indictment of anyone who doesn't make it out. There are any number of perfectly acceptable excuses, not the least of which is having a life that is not able to be rescheduled on one month's notice. Hopefully, you can at least be there in spirit, watching on TV or following along online.
You will feel our passion. You will know our energy. You will hear us.