Setting attendance records is starting to become a bit passé for Seattle Sounders FC fans. You turnout in numbers that are stunning for any sports team, let alone a league not even two decades old. The less told story is that of the activity of the fanbase. You participate. We take part in what we see.
In the Brougham End and pockets on the North End that means tifo. Big, bold declarations of love for the history and meaning of Sounders FC adorn sections around the stadium, but none as large as Sunday’s display.
That gets a lot of the attention around North America. It certainly sticks out, but 67,000+ is a huge number. Tens of thousands were not under those black tarps and sheets. On Sunday, that did not matter.
At 6 p.m. when the March to the Match started you may have been one of the several thousand. The Emerald City Supports led the march as usual, but then it went on, and on, and on. It is quite conceivable that the tail end of the march didn’t leave Occidental Park until the leaders were in front of the NW Gate.
Upon entering the stadium it was clear that Sunday night was different. There was a pocket of fans rooting for that team from the South, but about 65,000 were there for Sounders FC. Clad in green, blue and shale they raised their scarves, sang their songs.
For the long-time season ticket holder that dreamed of the re-emergence of the soccer crowd in the Puget Sound the Cascadia Cup was another notch in a belt that we hope never wears out.
The first timer got something else.
"It was the first soccer game of my life, couldn’t have asked for a better team and venue," said Jeff Paananen about the match. "It’s not just the game, the fans make it an extremely fun experience."
He plans on going to more games. He's just one of thousands with similar stories. The draw of Cascadia brought people to the match, the experience they had will bring them to more. That is part of why the attendance numbers continue to grow.
Crowds change games. There is real evidence that this is true. The 11th chapter of Scorecasting points out that crowd noise may be the single greatest influencer of home field advantage across all team sports. The size, volume and proximity of the crowd influences referee and umpire decisions.
The Brougham End, the Hawks’ Nest, club, charter, suite, loge, corner, upper deck – it doesn’t matter. You are a Sounder. It's what is special about this five or thirty-nine year old community. We are Sounders FC – each of us. From our sound to our scarves, every color on match day is to supplement the experience for the team.
The XI on the field, the 18 on the gameday roster, the nearly 30 on the first team and all the layers underneath are Sounders FC. They are not the only members of Sounders FC.
When you raise your scarf
When you boom-boom-clap
When you watch at home
When you watch from afar
When you follow the action every day
You are a Sounder. Season ticket holder number one and first timer on Sunday are Sounders. This is a team of thousands. Only eleven take the field at a time.