It looked to be a pretty relaxing weekend for Emerald City Supporters members Greg Mockos, Jason Ross, Eagle Bear Morgan, Marie Vermaas and Ray Bonnell. They all had their own separate plans that included watching the Sounders FC take on the San Jose Earthquakes on KING television at one of several local bars and pubs that were showing the match on Saturday night.
That all changed on Friday night.
While sitting at the ECS pre-game bar, Fuel, and reading the Facebook posts and Twitter updates of their ECS brethren who made the trip down to San Francisco that would eventually lead to the match on Saturday night in Santa Clara. Over 250 of them made the venture and seemingly all of them let their excitement shine through social media outlets.
Then, enough was enough.
“Greg, let’s just get in the car and go,” Morgan urged.
Mockos was reluctant at first, but then changed his tune – which prompted Morgan to rethink his stance too. When it was discovered that Morgan, Mockos, Ross and Vermaas all had the same thought throughout the day, they threw caution to the wind and jumped in Ross’ minivan and started for San Francisco.
Shortly into their trip, Bonnell speculated via Facebook that he could probably make it in time for the match if he left his house by 4 am. Upon reading this, Ross called, asking if he wanted to join in the spontaneous trip south.
Then their crew became five and they were on their way.
Through rain and snow along the way, Ross drove while the passengers did everything from teach each other foreign languages to go live online with an on-the-road edition of the ECS Sweatshop – all while consuming several energy drinks and making several pit stops along the way.
Once in the stadium, they found themselves amidst Seattle’s greatest rivals, from a supporter’s perspective, outside of the Cascadia teams in Vancouver and Portland.
The over 250 Sounders FC supporters rocked the bleachers on the west end of Buck Shaw Stadium while the San Jose supporters sang from behind the north goal.
Historically, San Jose has been one of the more popular travel destinations for Seattle’s supporters. \
“We were all hungry for a regional rivalry in 2009. It’s not as much as it was in the NASL, but the rivalry is still there with the Heritage Cup,” Mockos said. “It is an easy trip to make, but we’d love to do the same thing everywhere.”
The club’s supporters averaged 70 travelling fans on the 22 away trips last season, when preseason, Open Cup and Champions League are included in the 15 MLS regular season matches and one playoff match. Some of the better-attended league matches included trips to Los Angeles for matches against the LA Galaxy and Chivas USA, New York Red Bulls, DC United, Real Salt Lake and San Jose. Typically, the trips are organized by four or five ECS members, led by Aaron Reed, who have found host bars in each away city that host the supporters and offer specials.
“The club has a national following and ECS has a national and international representation,” Mockos said. “This season it’s really starting to pick up. In our travels in the first two years, we set the bar, now others are following suit.”
On Saturday, the support came to a head at Buck Shaw Stadium and the supporters erupted when Brad Evans scored to put Seattle up 1-0, testing the structural integrity of the bleachers.
“That was the peak for sure,” Vermaas said. “That instant made the whole trip worth it.”
All told, the five travelled over 1,600 miles in over 26 hours. Morgan, who also hosts the ECS weekly podcast, The Sweatshop, laughs that they gave their full 1650 – a play on the team’s Full 90 campaign, adding in the drive time to the 90 minutes of play.
After his first away trip in MLS play, he encourages others to do the same thing.
“It’s a different experience. Everybody should do it. It’s a completely different camaraderie,” he said. “You’re there in enemy territory, so there is a different edge to it.”
For more information on supporting the Sounders FC on the road, visit www.weareecs.com/travel.