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A first-timer's guide to attending U.S. Open Cup matches at Starfire

This is an updated version of the first-timer's guide we first published prior to the Sounders' match against PSA Elite.

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Ever had the chance to see a big band in a small venue? Pretty cool, right? Well, that's a lot like what going to Seattle Sounders matches at Starfire Sports Complex is like. You're right on top of the action. You can hear the players yelling at each other. You can literally feel the tension. Yes, a few people will sit. But the crowd was about 90 percent standing for PSA Elite, so don't go there expecting a leisurely evening at the soccer match. When it gets really packed, it almost seems like the fire marshal should shut the place down. "Intense" would be a good way to describe it, if perhaps understated a tad.

Considering the place only holds about 4,000 people, though, I'm guessing more than a few of our readers have never actually been, either by choice or not. This is your chance to change that. But hopefully you already have tickets. It's not entirely clear if the game is officially sold out yet, but you can no longer buy them through Ticketmaster's website. The game is officially sold out.

I'm sorry, but there's no way I'm paying "handling" fees. Can I just walk up and buy tickets the day of the game?

I'd say that's a rather huge gamble that I can't possibly recommend taking. If you thought ahead, you could have possibly bought some tickets through ECS, gone to the Starfire box office or gone through you season-ticket rep. I'm not sure any of those options are available just hours before the game, though, which means calling TicketMaster might be your only hope at this point.

What about getting there? I hear it's a nightmare.

Well, "nightmare" is what we call a loaded word. We prefer, "an unpleasant dream." But, yeah, this is the big downside to Starfire. There's not really a perfect solution.

Here's the thing, you can drive, you can take the bus, you can do some combination of them all. Whatever you do, give yourself time. Plan on getting there early. The main parkling lot is especially big, so be prepared to park in the area around there. One word of wisdom: follow the crowds. There are no "secret" spots near Starfire. Also don't leave Seattle at 6:30 p.m. and expect to catch kickoff.

We got into a bit more detail on this a couple years ago, so feel free to check out that story if you feel like you need a bit more hand holding.

So let's say I get there early like you're telling me to do. How do I bide my time until the game starts?

Do you like pizza? I really hope you like pizza. Once you're inside Starfire, Mad Pizza is basically your only option. The plus side is they have pizza and beer. The downside ... I mean, you like pizza and beer, right?

I don't like pizza.

There are usually some vendors outside the stadium selling various edible goods, but it's a pretty good walk to the closest restaurant outside the grounds. There are concession stands where some "classic" ballpark fare like hot dogs, pretzels and churros can be purchased. There's usually a beer garden in the stadium, too. Lines are long, but it's basically behind the corner flag, which is fun.

Anything else I should know?

Just remember this is not CenturyLink Field. Don't expect anything about this experience to be similar to what you might get for a regular-season game. There's a good chance you'll be physically uncomfortable at times. You're going to have people or flags or kids carrying large replicas of the U.S. Open Cup trophy obscuring your view. Your ears are going to be ringing afterward. But it will be worth it. And then after the game you can hang out with your kids and get autographs.

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