Monday, April 5, 2010
Wait - does two people (and one of them a kid) qualify as an invasion? Try as I might, I couldn't find another Red Bulls supporter in or around Qwest Field when we took on the Seattle Sounders on Saturday. Sure, there were a few people in half Red Bulls/half Sounders scarves (from last season's opener I imagine), but my son and I ploughed a lonely furrow as - apparently - the only two legit RBNY fans in town. Our presence so far from home was met with good humor by home fans, even after they trudged out of the stadium dejected (and a little shocked) at full time. To a man, I think they expected to trounce us, as you can see from the video above.* To be fair I picked us to lose as well. Old habits die hard.
I will say this for Sounders fans: they may get under the skin of some longtime MLS supporters, but they are by and large a friendly bunch, at least in my experience over two years. Of course it's easy to be gracious when you are 99.9999% sure you are going to win handily. But Seattle has also created a matchday experience unlike anything else in MLS, from the free-for-all march-in from Pioneer Square (not just supporters club hardcore types but all fans are encouraged to participate and are welcomed) to the Soundwave marching band. It's all just a little bit different and it sets them apart in what I think is a good way.
My mother, who was never a soccer fan before the Sounders came to town, has become a big fan of SSFC, though this was her very first live match. She and my stepfather took in the whole spectacle and enjoyed it immensely, from the pre-game eats and drinks at Pyramid Alehouse across from the stadium, to the march in, to the match itself. My stepfather also correctly predicted a 1-0 win for the Red Bulls, but that video has been lost somewhere in the sands of time.
As you can see, Seattle has done a fantastic job of selling the game to average fans, not just soccer nuts. Of course, it's much easier to penetrate a media market like Seattle than it is a behemoth like New York, but if we can even get close to creating the kind of tidal wave of support in our area that they have in Seattle, it will be a massive accomplishment. Keep performing like we did on Saturday and we could be well on our way.
Credit to my son Kieran for being so patient while I took the photos and video. I think we have a rabid Red Bulls fan in the making. This was my son's first away trip and now he's clamoring for more. He was so proud to hold up his scarf and wear his colors. He even (as you may be able to hear) got off a "Sounders suck" in front of the stadium that warmed the cockles of my heart. (He also said something about their colors looking like snot, but that wasn't in public.)
You can view a slideshow with some of my photos here, but I have to post this one, as it's my first in-person Warface By Design sighting.
*I tried my best viper impression, but the man is quite simply irreplaceable.