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Pitch-side tears at the 2016 MLS Cup Final

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Photographers cry, too.

Photo Credit - MikeRussellFoto

I am certain that I am not the only person here who shed tears of joy on the night of Dec. 10, 2016. There were two distinct moments that stick out for me on that frigid (FRIGID!) night in Toronto. The first one was actually before the first whistle even blew.

Earlier in the season I had decided to step down as the primary Sounders photographer for Sounder at Heart. (I still continue in that role for SaH’s OL Reign coverage.) It was a very difficult decision, but I knew this was going to be my last Sounders match after photographing the team for the previous five seasons.

Prior to warm-ups starting, I took a quiet moment by myself at my pitch-side seat from where I’d be shooting half of the match. (I was on the other end for the other half.) And the weight of the moment really hit home — the Sounders had made it to the MLS Cup Final. And I was there on the pitch to shoot it.

The other tearful moment came just a few hours later, shortly after Román Torres scored the winning PK. (Obviously!)

As I’m sure you all remember, after burying the shot in the back of the net, Román ran to celebrate with the rest of the team, and then headed over to the corner in front of the away supporters. Unfortunately, that happened to be the complete opposite corner from where I was stationed during the penalty shootout.

I captured a few frames of the initial celebration, but as soon as I realized where they were going, I grabbed my gear and sprinted like I’ve never sprinted before. Thankfully the pitch security in Toronto was, shall we say “polite,” and didn’t prevent us photographers from running along the sidelines. I am pretty sure it was Max Aquino and I leading the mad dash around the outside of the pitch.

When I caught up to the players in front of the away supporters, they were still in the throes of celebration. Whooping and hollering. High fives all around. Tears and hugs everywhere.

Being down there among them was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before (or since). The raw emotion was palpable. And contagious. Words simply can’t do it justice. (At least, not my words.)

And if we’re being honest, neither can photos. But here are a few that hopefully might come close to capturing that feeling.

If you want to relive the entire match, enjoy my original gallery post and all 179 photos!