They’ve been here before, but never for a match so important. Off cycle Gold Cups and rare friendlies were the fuel for Seattle’s passion for live United States National Team. Outside of those opportunities, the Puget Sound’s experience with the men of the Red, White and Blue is on television or traveling the world chasing the adventure that is America’s love affair with ourselves.
When Landon Donovan slipped that goal in to take the Group Stage in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa Seattle residents were watching in the stands, but so few. Most of us were finding ways to support from afar either watching on TV or finding audio of the game.
Just a year prior the USA put forward an amazing performance in the Confederations Cup, which was also in South Africa but was another time for Seattle to love from a distance. And eleven years ago the National Team beat Portugal and then Mexico at the jointly hosted South Korea/Japan World Cup.
These moments of national pride have always happened from a distance. Even the qualifying tournaments for these events happened thousands of miles away in places like Foxbourough, Columbus, D.C., Bridgeview, Carson and others. But never here.
We American Sounders, we people of the Sound, would find ways to watch and support our nation. We would fill bars, find internet streams. We would get clippings sent to us while in Basic Training while the nation hosted the 1994 World Cup (by we I mean me). Following a nation whose uniform I wore via tiny clippings was hard and frustrating for someone who had always wanted soccer to “be something” but was not quite old enough for the NASL to resonate.
The 1996 Summer Olympics would again take place during training. Much like 1994 I would not be in the Sound, but as seems very Seattle, games were not close. A few thousand miles away my nation hosted the globe. The USA would not advance past the Group Stage, but the squad of Kasey Keller, fourteen early MLSers would remind America that soccer was back and local, if you lived in the right place.
Qualifying for the 1998 World Cup was impressive and again distant. Seattle was not involved and I had the good luck to watch Kuwait in two Qualifiers during a deployment to that country. Again, like the Puget Sound the States were so distant from me.
It kept going. These tales of large passionate crowds would intrigue me, if from a distance. Not once would I, or so many thousands of others that love America and soccer but live here in Washington, have to miss the greatest of games (the World Cup) or those that qualify nations for it.
Tuesday is going to be different. Finally, my nation comes to my home. Not a B-Team. Not a one-off low-level friendly. But a real and vital qualifier. No longer will the stories be distant and relayed by the dominant media of the day. The snow game of just a few months ago is already a legend, but few Seattleites were there.
Tuesday we can be there. We can wrap ourselves in the flag and watch the game we love. We can accept those who are Sounders fans, Timbers fans, fans of clubs throughout the world and understand that that night we are fans of one thing – America.
Where were you? Can finally be answered with “I was there.” That’s what this game means for Seattle and the people of the Sound. I was there. Not “I listened.” Not “I watched.” I was there. We were there. People with diverse backgrounds and passions will come together for the Red, the White and the Blue. Thanks for coming to the game with me.
Tickets available for purchase here.