When the Sounders FC took to the field at BC Place to warm up before their match against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday, they did so to a raucous chorus from the supporters in the corner behind their bench.
Over 1,000 Sounders FC fans traveled to Vancouver to support the club in the first of six matches in the Cascadia derby between the Sounders, Whitecaps and Portland Timbers.
“It just goes to show how big the fan base is in Seattle. It’s unbelievable,” said forward Eddie Johnson, who scored in his first derby match for Seattle. “It shows how passionate our fans are. Hopefully we can keep doing well. The better we do, the more support we get on these away trips.”
With 750 tickets allotted to the supporter groups, 74 given to fans who are not members of supporter groups and hundreds more who traveled on tickets purchased separately, rave green was prominent throughout the stadium. And the eruptions from the crowd when Johnson scored in the 47th minute and Fredy Montero added another to equalize 2-2 in the 90th minute made it sound like a home atmosphere for the Sounders.
“It’s always good to have that support. For us, as players, we feel really proud of this team and the fans,” Montero said. “We just want to do our best on the field. Hopefully for the next game we can give them the victory.”
The Sounders likely have the greatest and most frequent away support, with fans traveling near and far for each away match – including matches in the CONCACAF Champions League in all parts of Mexico and Central America.
That has been a factor in the Sounders tremendous success on the road. They are now unbeaten in their last nine road MLS matches at 7-0-2 – the longest active streak in the league.
And while the Sounders players are aware of the support and the effort put in by those fans, they also make an effort to stay focused on the game plan once the whistle blows, particularly in rivalry matches.
“You can’t get caught up in the hype,” Johnson said. “We create chances and it’s about putting the ball in the back of the net when we created chances. It was a good atmosphere and we wanted to send our fans back with a positive result and I think coming back in a derby game like this says a lot about our team.”
However, both Johnson and Montero have strong feelings about the fans that do make their road games feel like home matches.
“It is a long trip. It’s always good to go back home with a victory or at least not to lose the game,” Montero said. “We did as much as we can and it’s a good point for us.”
Added Johnson, “I know how much it means to them and I’m glad we were able to come out with a point and send them home with something positive.”