Skip to content

Night of vindication all around for Seattle, fans

Jun 12, 2013, 4:01 AM EST

Panama v United States - FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier Getty Images

SEATTLE — The sellout didn’t happen, but as Seattle’s soccer fans showed, it didn’t matter. Besides, it’s hard to imagine 42,000 would have meaningful louder than the 40,847 who turned out to CenturyLink Field on Tuesday night. In voice, spirit, if not in the highly anticipated number, the fans were more than enough.

It was the seventh-largest home crowd in U.S. qualifying history, one that had no problem delivering the expected atmosphere. U.S. fans proved every bit as capable of filling Seattle’s cavernous venue with chants and songs that rivaled the Emerald City Supporters and Gorilla FC groups that cheer on the Sounders.

And after days of debate about Seattle’s expected attendance — increasingly nuanced explanations confounded an already loaded issue — the scene at CenturyLink left only two conclusions: Seattle’s fans delivered; and the community had earned its vindication.

“Amazing crowd,” was Jurgen Klinsmann’s assessment, words echoed in some form by ever player within a breath of a microphone Tuesday night. “It was just a wonderful atmosphere that the players enjoyed tremendously. We all did.”

“[It was] the best crowd I’ve played in (front of) in the United States, without a doubt,” Michael Bradley said. “People don’t know what a difference it makes when you play in an atmosphere like this.”

Perhaps the difference was evident in their performance. In some ways, the U.S.’s play wasn’t that different from what we saw in Jamaica. The team was threatened early but generally dictated tempo. They scored first through Jozy Altidore. The team eventually won.

The differences: The U.S. pushed for a second goal out of halftime in Seattle, an effort a large, supportive crowd could have bolstered; and the team didn’t give up a late goal, something the crowd’s encouragement could have promoted.

It’s all speculation, but when you hear a player like Bradley say onlookers “don’t know” how the support influences players, you wonder if, in those moments where you can see a clear difference from one game to the next, the crowd wasn’t the necessary condition.

But support wasn’t the only area where Seattle proved vindicated. The imported sod surface, much maligned all weekend, held up better than expected, even if the match’s early moments saw a number of players have trouble with their footing.

Yet probed after the match, no player had a negative word to stay. Instead, their reactions echoed their coach’s, who commended a CenturyLink ground crew that did everything they could to improve the field between Saturday and Tuesday.

“The field was totally fine,” Klinsmann said. “The players were totally fine with it. [The staff] did a tremendous job … They accommodated every wish we had. Water it here. Water it there. They rolled it again this morning. I can just give the biggest complements here for the field.”

With pitch issues set aside, the lasting story of Seattle’s first qualifier in 36 years will be its much-renown supporters – a community that justified U.S. Soccer’s decision to fly from Kingston  to play in front of its fans.

“Columbus is great and Kansas City has been fantastic,” Tim Howard explained, “but this was rocking. They did themselves justice tonight …

“It’s the best crowd around … We can’t get back to Seattle soon enough.”

On Tuesday, hours before the match, I asked what Seattle was getting out of this qualifier. Amid the criticism, much of which came off as opportunistic envy, what incentive did Seattle have to solicit another event that could act as a catalyst for negativity?

The Panama match completely destroyed that premise. In the span of a few hours, what looked like a no-win situation was overcome by the pure power of 40,000 screaming voices.

As the stadium shook after each U.S. goal, you saw what was in it for Seattle. They get a World Cup qualifier, a chance to contribute to the cause, and an opportunity to remind the rest of U.S. soccer culture: It will take more than the cried of skeptics to derail the Seattle phenomenon.

Latest Posts
  1. Spanish court comes to senses, lifts Real Madrid reserve manager Zinedine Zidane’s coaching ban

    Nov 21, 2014, 9:20 PM EST

    FBL-ESP-LIGAB-REALMADRID-ZIDANE FBL-ESP-LIGAB-REALMADRID-ZIDANE

    Zinedine Zidane can return to coaching after his nonsensical coaching suspension was lifted on Friday. Perhaps “qualified” needs redefining.

  2. VIDEO: Louis van Gaal calls Wayne Rooney “not a typical striker,” praises versatility ahead of Arsenal showdown

    Nov 21, 2014, 8:42 PM EST

    Manchester United Press Conference Manchester United Press Conference

    Louis van Gaal has called Wayne Rooney “not a typical striker,” but a “fantastic player” nonetheless before Arsenal showdown.

  3. Inside Look: All-time greats, LA Galaxy & Seattle Sounders, to square off in Western Conference Championship, leg 1

    Nov 21, 2014, 8:15 PM EST

    Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, Lamar Neagle, Jaime Penedo Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, Lamar Neagle, Jaime Penedo

    It’s tempting to look ahead and crown the LA Galaxy MLS Cup champions already. A word of warning: Don’t do it at the Sounders’ expense.

  4. Jermaine Jones hears all the New England Revolution’s haters, thanks them for their motivation

    Nov 21, 2014, 6:15 PM EST

    Bernardo Anor, Jermaine Jones — AP AP

    Dear haters: Jermaine hears you, is not bothered by you and still loves you. Look out, Red Bulls.

  5. MLS Cup Playoffs Preview: Red Bulls vs. Revolution, Galaxy vs. Sounders in Conference Championship first legs

    Nov 21, 2014, 4:45 PM EST

    Seattle Sounders v Los Angeles Galaxy Seattle Sounders v Los Angeles Galaxy

    The 2014 season is nearly finished, as the MLS Cup Playoffs resume this weekend. A few facts and stats to excite ahead of Sunday’s action.

  6. MLS: Orlando City coach Adrian Heath signs extension through 2017

    Nov 21, 2014, 3:10 PM EST

    Orlando_City_2014.svg

    The English-born coach has had big success in Orlando since the club began play in 2011, winning the regular season title in three of four seasons.

  7. Vancouver announces USL PRO team, expansion of training facilities

    Nov 21, 2014, 2:20 PM EST

    Whitecaps FC2

    Whitecaps FC 2 will compete in metro Vancouver at Thunderbird Stadium inside of the University of British Columbia.

  8. English PFA chief wants mandated minimum 3 players in Premier League starting lineups

    Nov 21, 2014, 1:35 PM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    The quota request comes after the BBC conducted a “State of the Game” survey that dug into the international representation in the Premier League.

  9. Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. West Bromwich Albion

    Nov 21, 2014, 12:50 PM EST

    FBL-ENG-PR-CHELSEA-WEST BROM Getty Images

    Can the Baggies improve on last year’s point at Stamford Bridge?

  10. WATCH: Premier League TV schedule – Week 12

    Nov 21, 2014, 12:40 PM EST

    PremierLeagueNBC

    Where and how to watch every single PL game in Week 12.

  11. Batman vs. Valencia; DC Comics suing La Liga club over new crest

    Nov 21, 2014, 12:00 PM EST

    Valencia v Elche - La Liga Getty Images

    I’m a fan of Batman, but seems to me “The Dark Knight” should consider rocking Valencia’s bat rather than his own. Looks slick.

  12. Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks: Chelsea, Everton, Manchester City

    Nov 21, 2014, 11:45 AM EST

    Here’s how PST’s lead writer and editor sees things panning out this weekend.

  13. These deserving nominees are the biggest snubs of MLS Award season

    Nov 21, 2014, 11:05 AM EST

    Bradley Wright-Phillips, Tim Cahill, Lloyd Sam AP

    So to the MLS players, coaches and “media members who regularly covered the league”, sit back and enjoy your biggest screw-ups.

  14. Former Man Utd teammates Welbeck, Rooney prepares for “weird” match as Arsenal hosts Red Devils

    Nov 21, 2014, 10:14 AM EST

    Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck AP

    Welbeck is used to being on the side of the favorites in this matchup, as Manchester United has dominated the series in recent years.

  15. Premier League Preview: Arsenal vs. Manchester United

    Nov 21, 2014, 9:25 AM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Danny Welbeck’s first Premier League game against his former team is just one subplot as the Gunners host the Red Devils.

  16. Americans Abroad preview: Chandler vs. Johnson headlines European action

    Nov 21, 2014, 8:41 AM EST

    Eintracht Frankfurt v FC Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga Getty Images

    All Americans plying their trade in the Premier League have a decent look at points, while two in the Championship will opening things up with Friday matches.

  17. Trophée des Champions returning to North America to kick off 2015-16

    Nov 21, 2014, 7:49 AM EST

    Trophée_des_Champions

    Paris Saint-Germain has claimed the last two Trophées with wins over Bordeaux and Guingamp, but this year’s table is clustered.

  18. Swansea City rolling: Garry Monk says sense of ‘togetherness’ has been crucial

    Nov 21, 2014, 12:17 AM EST

    Swansea City v Leicester City - Premier League Getty Images

    Swansea manager Garry Monk is hoping for the best as the Swans journey to play Manchester City at the Etihad this weekend.

  19. Jay Heaps directs plenty of credit to Jermaine Jones for Revs’ achievements

    Nov 20, 2014, 11:42 PM EST

    Jermaine-Jones-in-action-for-Revolution

    Coupled with a breakout year from Lee Nguyen, Jermaine Jones’ skill and leadership have guided the New England Revolution to one of Major League Soccer’s most cohesive units.

  20. Mascherano completely rules out possibility of Messi leaving Barca

    Nov 20, 2014, 10:45 PM EST

    Lionel Messi, Neymar Lionel Messi, Neymar

    Mascherano: “Messi didn’t say anything weird, he said what all football players are thinking.”

Featured video

Preview: Arsenal vs. Manchester United