The club spoke of the Seahawks accomplishment and hoped to emulate the success in MLS this season.
While the Seahawks were anointed champions of Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, Sounders FC celebrated in Arizona as its organizational brothers lifted the Lombardi Trophy.
Sounders FC had the day off on Sunday and most on the team took the opportunity to don their Seahawks gear at the hotel and other local establishments to watch the game. The resulting 43-8 meant a jovial team on Monday, particularly considering the five players and six staff members with the team in Arizona who were raised in the Seattle area and many others that have grown to call Seattle home throughout the years.
“It was fantastic for the city of Seattle, for all the sports fans in town and certainly the Seahawks fans. What a fantastic result,” said Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid. “It wasn’t just a win, it was a smashing of the opponent.”
From the safety 12 seconds into the game and Seattle’s first touchdown with exactly 12 minutes left to play in the first half, there were many reasons for Seahawks fans to cheer throughout the night. However, Percy Harvin’s kickoff return to start the second half (also 12 seconds into the half) was the play that sent those fans into celebration mode as the Seahawks went up 29-0 that shifted the feelings of nervous confidence to sheer elation.
“It was crazy right from the get-go. I knew we were going to win. We had an amazing team, but I don’t think anybody expected us to blow out Peyton Manning and the Broncos,” said Federal Way native Lamar Neagle. “I’m very excited for Seattle and very excited for the Seahawks. They definitely deserve it. I’m glad to be a Seattle citizen.”
The resulting championship will likely do two things for the Sounders – give their fans a boost to celebrate at Seattle’s next big sporting event at CenturyLink Field when Sounders FC opens the MLS season against Sporting Kansas City on March 8 and puts a little more pressure on the team to win its first MLS Cup.
With the first, Sounders FC has had the largest fanbase in MLS since joining the league in 2009 and the raucous crowds with attendance that averaged 44,038 per game in 2013. With yet another match opened up to full capacity, that number is likely to make another jump in 2014, but it starts with the opener.
“Seattle sports have always stuck together. When one team is up it kind of brings everybody else up,” Neagle said. “Hopefully some of that success will rub off on us and we can keep it going through 2014.”
Added newcomer Chad Barrett, who has played his share of matches in Seattle as a visitor before this season, “If they needed a bump, I guess it could provide one, but I know our fans don’t need one. We just want to win it that much more and bring the first MLS Cup to Seattle the same year the Seahawks win theirs.”
What may be a hope – winning MLS Cup – is becoming the expectation in Seattle. For all of the club’s success in its first five years, which has included three U.S. Open Cup titles and five straight playoff appearances, MLS Cup has eluded Sounders FC. While the pressure may be higher this season because of that empty spot in the trophy case reserved for the Phillip F. Anschutz Trophy, that is a welcome element for the club as it prepares for the 2014 season.
“There’s a little bit more pressure on us, but that’s where everyone wants to do within our team and our organization,” said goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, a Seattle resident and lifelong Seahawks fan. “That’s what we want to do, so a little bit of pressure might be something to guide us to where we want to go.”