“To see this now, and what this team means to a city. Back in July a bunch of people jumped ship. These people here, the people here, the men and women and children weren’t part of that. They stayed strong and held to their faith and belief in this team. That’s what’s been carrying us - belief. Having it come to fruition today, that’s pretty cool.”
Herculez Gomez spoke to Sounder at Heart in a parking lot outside of Boeing Field’s corporate charters near the end of the gathering. Nearing the close of a career that started in 2002, Gomez played for clubs big and small. He compared Sunday’s welcome home to what happens with Mexico’s largest teams.
“Things like this, seeing this, seeing the way people treat you and how much the team means to them that brings it full circle.”
When the plane landed the players and staff didn’t really know what would be there to greet them. It was a rare charter flight, so normal systems were gone. It is highly unusual for the players to be met by hometown media. The familiarity of Sea-Tac is absent.
A bit confused as to where they would go, the players headed towards the Clay Lacy offices. There was another photo shoot. This time with a huge banner. And then they emerged into a swarm of fans - probably 150 to 200 women and men gathered to celebrate.
While Jordan Morris and Osvaldo Alonso talked to the media, head coach Brian Schmetzer and the rest of his team were hanging out with fans. Schmetzer was hugging people, shaking hands, thanking them by name when he knew it or just a smile when he did not.
Roman Torres led a dance party. It was a mass of love and thanks. That thanks traveled both ways. As Schmetzer often says, the club is epitomized by the relationship between player and fan, between a front office and the people who go to/watch/enjoy games.
“We are going to enjoy this,” Head Coach Brian Schmetzer said, gesturing to the crowd surrounding him. The rest of his words are drowned out as fans erupt in chant, again.
“We’re certainly very, very happy. I’m happy for the players. I’m happy for the fans. In 2016 we are able to go to MLS Cup. I’m very proud, very happy. The players did unbelievably well tonight.”
Schmetzer is gushing with joy. Around he and about a dozen journalists with cameras and microphones are a couple hundred fans, and his team. Things are being signed. There are songs in Spanish and English. It is a mass of joy, surrounded in darkness.
Not every fan could be there on little notice on a Sunday night. Not every fan could travel to Denver. Not every fan can be at CenturyLink Field for every game, but Schmetzer definitely recognizes every fan.
“We didn’t have this in ‘05 or ‘07,” he laughs about his two titles with the USL Sounders, both won at home, in front of a few thousand. “Maybe because we were at home for both of those. We never had this. We’re really happy. The players are happy. They’re great.”
If you wanted a specific players’ signature or to chat them up that might be tough. Finding your favorite player among the cars and people is nearly impossible. That created different moments, as you could be waiting in line to chat with Morris when Brad Evans steps up behind you and starts talking about the inconceivable evening.
Attempting to take it all in is impossible. No one could capture every moment. Instead it is just a thing. With cellphones surrounding us, so many images are captured. TV stations with big cameras get different angles. The uncaptured are just as strong.
It’s Brian Schmetzer refusing to start a media interview until one of the writers (me) gives him a hug. It is Cristian Roldan interrupting his best friend’s presser with a simple “We won!”
“This is awesome. We have the best fans in the league. We’re really happy we could bring this trophy home, but we have one more game to go,” Jordan Morris opened his small standup talking about the crowd. Like every other player the focus is to have at least one more celebration, one more moment.