We have been season ticket holders for the Seattle Sounders since 2001 (pre-MLS!) and we were not going to miss their first trip to the Championship Cup Finals, even if it was in Toronto in December.
After arriving late the previous night, we got up and hit the town. We wandered around Toronto and kept on running into Seattle fans in their green Sounders gear. Hours before kick-off we went to The Loose Moose bar where Sounder supporters had planned to meet. The bar was packed with a few hundred Seattleites; We fought our way through and ordered a beer and talked with our fellow fans. The bar occasionally erupted into raucous song and chants about our beloved team. Everyone was all smiles, but they became nervous smiles as game time quickly approached.
When we headed off to the game the temperature was in the low twenties. That’s football weather, not the usual temperature for a soccer match. We layered up, put on knit hats and long johns, but I wore my lucky Van sneakers, not the most ideal cold weather footwear.
Walking through the streets and into the stadium we talked with Toronto fans. You gotta love Canadians, so friendly and welcoming. Waiting in line for drinks, we exchanged some friendly banter with a Toronto fan wearing a funky red wig. We bought him a beer before setting off to our seats high up in the stadium, in the area designated for Seattle supporters.
I was already freezing cold as they kicked-off and sadly, the game was not poetry on the pitch. Play was slow and the game dragged on and our nervousness increased. After the end of regulation and two extra time periods the score was still 0-0.
Finally after 3 long, cold hours, we won the game on penalty kicks, not the best way to win, but we didn’t care! We jumped around and shouted ourselves hoarse with the rest of the Seattle fans for another hour, which finally stopped feeling so cold! Yes!
I can’t reveal how we obtained access to the team after-party back at their hotel, but we did. It took a few beers but I finally built up the courage to shake some players hands. I tried to keep it short, I didn’t want to act like a stalker; “Congratulations… I’m so proud…. I’ve been a ticket holder since 2001…” But it was late, I was a tad bit tipsy, so it came out a little incoherent at times. The Spanish-speaking players clearly had no clue what I was saying. It was past 3am by the time I met the coach, Brian Schmetzer. My speech was impaired and my train of thought, derailed. I blabbed nonsense at him as he made his escape.
It was a long way to go. It was the coldest match I’ve ever been to. It was one the worst games I’ve witnessed. But we won and in the end that’s all that matters.