This is why we watch. This is why we trudge through scoreless ties and frustrating losses. It's why we show up to the stadium even after we've had our hearts broken. It's why we come back year after year after year in record numbers. For moments like the Seattle Sounders 3-1 (AET) win over the Portland Timbers on Wednesday at Starfire Soccer Stadium in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup.
Like any good soccer match, though, you needed to live through it to really appreciate just how awesome it was and you needed to suffer, just a little, in order to make the ending so, so sweet.
The Sounders seemed well on their way to a hard-fought 1-0 win off a absolutely spectacular Osvaldo Alonso goal. In case you missed it, here it is:
And again from the wide angle:
For the next 20-odd minutes that seemed like it was going to be just enough. The Sounders were getting chances, but not quite finishing and giving the Timbers just enough life.
That turned out to be too much. Steve Zakuani hooked up with Darlington Nagbe on a well-worked goal just before the final whistle blew to send the game to overtime.
It was, in a word, sickening.
Luckily, the Sounders did not take it nearly as hard and were the better team for the early stages of the overtime period. Then, the Timbers gave them a bit of a gift. After losing a battle to control a loose ball with Marco Pappa, Diego Chara unleashed a rather ridiculous, two-footed, scissor-kicked tackle from behind that drew a straight red and allowed the Sounders to play the final 20 or so minutes a man up.
It took a little awhile, but the Sounders finally broke through around the 111th minute. That's when Kenny Cooper got his head on a Gonzalo Pineida cross and clanged it in off the post to give the Sounders a 2-1 lead.
Just for good measure, Pappa got himself a goal in the 116th minute on a right-footed blast.
Instead of sick, the feeling was utter and complete jubilation. Yes, it was only a win to put the Sounders into the semifinals. Yes, they've been here before (seven times in eight years, in fact). But to do it against a rival, a rival that stated this was their game of the year, a rival that had ripped out your heart not 30 minutes earlier? No, aside from lifting a trophy it simply does not get better than this. Enjoy it.