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Why I’m a fan of Seattle Sounders FC: March 19, 2009

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The team helped me cope with a tragedy.

New York Red Bulls v Seattle Sounders Photo by Robert Giroux/Getty Images

To start things off, I won’t act like I have been following the Seattle Sounders since their USL days and certainly not before that. I moved around a lot as a kid as both of my parents were in the military, the United States Air Force to be exact.

As most kids do, I played a lot of sports. Baseball, basketball, soccer and eventually football. I never excelled at basketball so I ditched that to concentrate more on baseball and soccer but soccer was my true love from the first time I laced up those cheap cleats my parents bought at the local sports store in town.

I played all over the field, mainly forward and goalkeeper. I wasn’t the best but I was good enough to always start over the other kids. I was also fortunate to have my parents, mainly my mom, coach a couple of my teams throughout my seven years of playing. I really enjoyed playing the sport but living down South — Mississippi to be exact — soccer was never the No. 1 sport. After sixth grade, I quit soccer to play football because “that’s what Southern boys do.”

My family and I moved back up here in April of 1998 and my athletic ability escaped me. Fast forward nine years later, I was super stoked to finally have an MLS team in my town. I was super excited about the possibilities of watching a professional sport I grew up playing with my future children, something that I was unable to do with my parents.

That last sentence is very important. It is now time for me to explain to you why I’m a fan of Seattle Sounders FC.

Almost eight months to the day before the Sounders were announced as the next MLS franchise, a major tragedy struck me and my family. On March 19, 2007, I lost both of my parents on the same day. I won’t get into all the details and if you really want to know what happened, I have linked the story here for you. The cliff notes version of the event, my mom fell into the water while trying to cross a raging river and my dad did what my dad would do, jumped in to try to save her.

Fast forward two years later and lo and behold, the Sounders’ first game was to be played on Thursday, March 19, 2009, exactly two years after my parents’ death. I wasn’t able to get the day off to attend the match like I wanted, but I did work in Seattle at the time and got to see all of the fans going to the stadium and thought it was really cool to see so many people show up for the inaugural game.

Even though I didn’t get to attend that match, it was a special moment for me. It helped ease a little of the devastation that I had been through just two years prior. At the time, all that was on my mind was how sad I was after everything that had happened. Watching the game on DVR brought me back to happier moments growing up as a kid playing soccer. It reminded me of the good time with my parents and how much they supported me in no matter what I did.

I didn’t get to attend my first Sounders match until August of 2010, coincidentally on my wife and I’s three-year wedding anniversary. A friend of mine had two extra tickets to the CONCACAF Champions League match against Monterrey. Two years later, I became a season-ticket holder and have met many new friends that I am still friends with today.

I will always look back at that first game and remember the joy it brought to me and how it helped me slowly start to recover from my parents’ death. It brought me tons of new friends that I wouldn’t have had if I never attended the CCL match. I would have never give high fives, and sometimes hugs, to complete strangers after a huge goal or victory if not for that game.

When they won MLS Cup last year, I wasn’t able to go to a viewing party or attend the match. I was at a birthday party for my father in-law and longtime family friend. I got to watch the game and I may have even teared up a bit when Roman Torres hit the game-winning penalty.

The Sounders have brought me plenty of heartbreak over the years as well but a lot more joy and happiness than sadness.

This is why I’m a fan of the Seattle Sounders FC.