Naysayers, non-believers, and haters of soccer be damned, the games continued growing grip on Seattle was on display this past weekend. In the span of 72 hours over 94,000 fans streamed through the entries into Century Link Field to watch two matches. Perhaps it’s appropriate that the larger of the two crowds came for the hometown Sounders MLS match with Vancouver which was witnessed by 53,679 fans. The majority of the crowd (there were a few thousand Vancouver fans) went home happy after a come from behind 3 to 2 win for the Sounders. My friend Matt Gaschk points out that the Sounders have been unbeatable in front of big crowds posting a 7-0-2 mark in front of crowds of 40,000 or more and a perfect 5 and 0 record when crowds exceed 50,000.
3 nights later 40,847 fans clad in red, white, and blue attended the US Men’s National Team match over Panama. They not only saw a win (2-nil) but watched Sounders forward Eddie Johnson score a goal.
Tuesday’s crowd doubtless would have been larger had US Soccer not have made such a naked cash grab on ticket prices. Fans did (and should have) expected to pay more for a USA game than for a Sounders one. But with top end prices at $250 and the get in price at $50 some fans were scared off. Nevertheless 40,847 is an attendance figure that requires no apology.
The crowd brought the noise, too. Sports Illustrated soccer writer Grant Wahl lavished the national praise we so often lament is lacking on Seattle fans.
A final thought on criticism of the grass field. There’s an easy solution to this one. Stop installing temporary grass fields in Seattle and start using the perfectly fine turf one located there. In a perfect world there’d be a natural grass field here, but it’s not a perfect world. FIFA has allowed games to be played on turf in other stadiums and has indicated that the turf in Seattle is of a quality that they would OK any match here short of a World Cup final. If that’s the case then there is exactly zero reason to waste money installing a sod field that gets used twice. As part of the growth of the sport in America soccer purists are going to have to come to grips with the fact that not every game can be played on grass.
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