We throw around the word ‘panic’ a lot around here, usually in a somewhat mocking manner. At Sounder at Heart we often try to be rational when it comes to our love of these teams.
It may be that we shout down the panicking, emotional crowd because we refuse to open ourselves to the idea.
It may be because we are true believers in a squad that the vast majority of staffers figured were going to be in the top-four teams in the West, at least.
It may be both, as we are rational actors, but often irrational in our love. A rational actor doesn’t write about how Ender’s Game explains the ‘09 Sounders. A rational actor doesn’t write about the 2014 D&D adventuring party called Sounders FC. A rational actor doesn’t equate Oba to Ultron.
We are both completely rational and completely irrational in our love of these teams.
They define us. Their failures hurt our heart and mar our souls. Their successes bring us boundless joy and pleasure. Their humanity brings us light and hope.
The numbers 2-4-0, -3 do not define the team. MLS Cup 2016 does not define the team. A full Cheney Stadium does not define the organization. Twenty-thousand+ empty seats at CenturyLink Field does not define the organization.
It is all of these things — and more.
This organization is Cristian Roldan playing shoebox foosball with a young boy at a charity event. This organization is the 4-nil crushing of Santa Tecla. This organization is Brian Schmetzer buying a couple dozen charity raffle tickets and handing them out at random. This organization is failure in Mexico. This organization is success in Mexico.
These Seattle Sounders cannot be defined by panic. The Sounders FC are more than giant tifo, calls for the GM’s head, and an oft-injured legendary Honey Badger.
They are an 18-year-old centerback wearing the armband when a multiyear MLS vet is his partner. They are a 15- and 16-year-old playing up four/three years in the GA Cup, and scoring.
When people ask me why I love the Sounders it is easy to describe. Why do I love anything?
The Sounders bring me joy and pain. They give me hope. The Sounders are about 200,000 people, give or take, who find pleasure together, unity in a ball and a couple of goals and the hundreds that wear Rave Green in competition.
When I suggest that people not panic, it isn’t because I’m emotionally detached. It is because I’m a Sounder, as are you. This is a long game. It is a game of generations. Born in ‘74 enables a couple generations, but the successes of 2009 to present give us a vision of generations more.
What are six games, among sixty and more? What are three poor starts, of ten? What is the absence of the native son when more come? What is fading grace when there is so much poise in his squire?
This is why we don’t panic. We don’t panic because we are entitled to success; we reject panic because we are entitled to the Sounders. The Sounders mean greatness, and by any measure they are among the greats not just within MLS history, not just within American soccer history, but they are among the greats in American sports.
They earned this. We earned this.
Reject the panic. Control the controllables.
You are the voice. They hear you. Together we can haunt the nightmares of our opponents, inspire greatness in our allies and rally more to this growing family.
This is completely irrational, because love isn’t rational. We love our Sounders. We want the best for them. They know we demand it. They read our words, sometimes in disappointment, sometimes in inspiration, ofttimes knowing that we are right.
It’s possible you can treat this essay as a rallying cry, but you need not rally. You are already the believer. You can treat this essay as fluff, and focus instead on searching for the free on some off chance that Lagerwey has yet to hear of the player. You can treat this essay as anything you want.
The author’s intent is simple. It’s a love letter to everything great and small, all the failures and successes. It’s a love letter to every reader, for you are Sounders.