2019 – Around the World and Close to Home
Donald Trump becomes the third U.S. president to be impeached Boeing’s 737 Max is grounded after two crashes kill a total of 346 and Great Britain’s parliament approves a withdrawal agreement to leave the European Union. In Washington, the State Route 99 tunnel replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct opens under Seattle commercial passenger flights begin using Everett’s Paine Field and six separate snowstorms dump over 20 inches on Seattle and Puget Sound from February 3-11.
Reaching a Fever Pitch
It many ways it’s a celebration of everything that’s come to pass over some 125 years of playing and watching the beautiful game of association football, socker or whatever else soccer has been known throughout Washington. When 69,274 are shoehorned into CenturyLink Field on November 10, history is being made, both on the field and in the stands. When Seattle Sounders host Toronto FC in the MLS Cup final, it’s truly a magnificent convergence of the masses with the most meaningful afternoon of footy our state has ever seen.
It is a moving experience. There are tears of joy and also a detectible temblor, three of them, in fact. Seismographs squiggle after each of the three Sounders goals, with the biggest jolt saved for fans bursting from their seats and jumping up and down at the sight of Victor Rodriguez curling the second goal into the right corner with 15 minutes remaining. It is a stadium-record attendance and surpasses the state soccer record by nearly 2,000, and it stands to reason.
For the first time, Seattle is hosting a national championship match with its home side playing. Two weeks earlier it seemed folly, the notion that everything, all semifinal results, would align to produce this rare occasion. It required two upsets, including the Sounders somehow leaving LAFC, the runaway Supporters’ Shield winner, with a victory. In a masterpiece performance, they spot LA an early goal before replying with two quick scores and then adding another, Raul Ruidiaz’s second, in the second half.
When Atlanta is beaten by Toronto the following day, Seattle becomes the remaining high seed. Minutes later, seats become available to season ticket holders. Less than one after going on sale to the public, the inventory evaporates completely, and the secondary market is listing prices over $1,000 per seat.
Sounders sporting director Chris Henderson and head coach Brian Schmetzer, both natives and members of families immersed in the game for many decades, are struck by the sense that a soccer heaven is being revealed.
“It just brings me back to 'we have this history in this city,'” Henderson says. “My parents were big fans of the game, I'm a fan of the game, my kids are fans. It's generational. To be able to now have probably the biggest game in Seattle soccer history and pack the stadium in minutes, it just shows how important this club is to the city.”
“This right now is a pretty high point for all of us that put in the work back in the 70s, 80s, the lean years in the early 2000s,” notes Schmetzer. “This is all a culmination for the people who stayed here.”
And so, when the final whistle pierces the mid-autumn, and the throng’s mighty roar reverberates for minutes around the spacious arena, it is a scene to savor, to absorb into the psyche. Never before in the existence of soccer in this state has such a cause and a crowd of such lofty stature conjoined to hit such a fever pitch.