Seattle is a beautiful, glorious soccer city that bleeds rave green. We march. We sing. The Sounders are forever etched into our hearts.
The spin moves, the diving fingertip saves, the young hometown talent, the flamethrowers ... they pull us to CenturyLink for nine months of the year.
But I don't want to talk about that. I want to talk about all of you. The fans.
You see, we come from circumstances as diverse as the solar system, but on opening day, we'll be united by one thing: our love for the Sounders, for this beautiful game. This team, these boys, they pull us in with so much gravitational force each matchday, it's no wonder we all get sucked in.
But, actually, I don't want to talk about what unites us, either. I want to talk about what makes each one of us, as fans, unique.
I'm not particularly old or particularly wise, but I've learned one thing in my years playing, watching, and covering soccer: there's no one right way to be a fan. And you know what? That's a good thing.
Some of us jump and yell and wave flags to inspire the crowd, to show our deep support to the boys on the field. Others prefer to take in the match while seated, quietly studying and enjoying the action on the field.
We come from the dry side, the high side, abroad, and everywhere in between.
More than 40,000 of you show up on matchday, filling the seats and pouring your souls onto the pitch. Many more turn on your TVs and radios and soak up all the energy through waves and wires.
It doesn't matter if you enjoy the game at home, at the bar, or at the stadium. You are a soccer fan. You are part of this crazy community. You're welcome here.
Some of your favorite players are technical wizards. Me? I will forever love Lamar Neagle, partly because he always hustled and produced moments of brilliance, but mostly because he was a local guy who loved this community.
And that's okay. Because there's no right way to be a soccer fan.
I welcome the season ticket holders behind me who mostly talk about the Seahawks, but still show up to every match. They might get the player's name wrong every once in awhile, they might get a call wrong here or there, but every game, they learn a little more about the sport.
I celebrate the fans from the 509 who make the trek, when they can, over the mountains to CenturyLink Field. I think about all of you who can't afford to go to every match, but have every one penciled in on your calendar. I've been there.
I embrace new fans with open arms, excited you are taking a cautious leap in my direction. I don't care that you lack a favorite Premier League team, or never followed the league at all. So you don't understand the offside rule? Don't worry, most of us don't either.
I dive into the data with you tactical geniuses, who analyze player formations and numbers on our behalf. And I cry and scream in joy with those of you who are mostly here for the hype, for the camaraderie, for the community.
As we enter what is bound to be another thrilling season of MLS soccer, I ask that you take the time to appreciate every fan that loves this team.
They don't all look like you. They don't all act like you. But they likely care just as much as you. We're all soccer fans, united by a love for this beautiful, frustrating, magnificent game. The world's game. Our game.
As we like to say, You Never Yacht Alone. So hop on board and let's enjoy the ride ... together.