On Saturday, May 20, as Sounders FC takes on Western Conference rival Real Salt Lake at the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field (2:00 p.m. PT / JOEtv, Univision-Seattle, KIRO Radio 97.3 FM, El Rey 1360 AM), the club is celebrating the country's armed forces with its Military Appreciation Match. A variety of activities are planned, including a special match ball delivery, opening ceremony and U.S. Navy flyover.
Fans can also take advantage of a special Military Appreciation Match ticket offer, where, for only $25, they receive a ticket to the match complete with a limited-edition Sounders FC Military Challenge Coin. Coin pickup is available at the Sounders FC sales table in Soccer Celebration when gates open at 12:30 p.m. PT until the end of halftime. The purchaser of the tickets must present their ID and pick up all coins for the order. Those interested in the special offer should call 877-675-4625 to speak to a Sounders FC representative. Additionally, fans are reminded that westbound I-90 is reduced to a single lane near Bellevue Way, with traffic routed to the express lanes from 11 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday. Travelers coming into Seattle from across Lake Washington should plan accordingly.
Following team warmups, the match ball is set to be delivered by the Marceaus, a Gold Star family. This title pays homage to those who have lost a loved one in military service. The Gold Star signifies a family's pride in the loved one's sacrifice, rather than the mourning of a personal loss. The Marceau family honors their son and brother, third-generation Marine Lance Corporal Joe M. Jackson. LCpl Jackson graduated from White Swan High School in White Swan, Washington. On Easter Sunday in 2011, at the age of 22, LCpl Jackson was the first of 17 Marines to fall in combat at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan. His surviving family - father, Shawn, mother, Faye, and sister, Gracie - are scheduled to deliver the match ball and receive a commemorative coin.
The afternoon's opening ceremony features 150 uniformed service members, covering each of the five branches of the military. Following the match ball delivery, stars representative of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard will open on the pitch to the sounds of each branch's respective anthem. In addition, a special "Prisoners of War" star is being unveiled to dignify those held in captivity in areas of conflict. The national anthem is being performed by Master-at-Arms 1st Class Nicole McDonald, an active service member in the Navy. McDonald joined the Navy in April of 2007 and has served overseas for two years. She is currently stationed with the Marine Corps Security Force Battalion where she leads Sailors and Marines in the guarding of the nation's strategic assets.
Prior to kickoff and immediately following the anthem performance, the Navy is set to perform a flyover of CenturyLink Field with two Boeing EA-18G Growlers, a special version of the two-set F/A-18F Super Hornet. The lead aircraft, Viking 11, is piloted by Lieutenant Austin "Dangle" Wilkinson with Lieutenant Rebecca "Frau" Nortz. The wing aircraft, Viking 12, is piloted by Lieutenant Michael "Zjob" Zarronandia with Lieutenant Jacob "Cactus" Vetter. Directing the flyover from the ground is Lieutenant Robert "Nilla" Walker.
These airmen are pilots and electronic warfare officers (EWO) in the EA-18G Fleet Replacement Squadron VAQ-129 "Vikings" stationed at NAS Whidbey Island. They have each participated in approximately two years of flight school, one year as students at VAQ-129, three years in fleet squadrons deploying around the world and are now instructors at VAQ-129. The entire flyover crew is being recognized on the pitch at halftime and will enjoy the match from a suite.
Outside of military elements, fans should plan to take advantage of partner booths in Soccer Celebration, where Washington's Lottery offers the $5 Hit 5 ticket. Fans who stop by and purchase a ticket can win a pair of 2018 Sounders FC season tickets, a framed MLS Cup championship team autographed jersey or a Sounders FC matchday experience. Additionally, CenturyLink's annual Scarf Sound Off is back, offering Sounders FC fans a chance to vote on one of three scarf designs. A limited number of the winning design will be produced and distributed from the CenturyLink trailer in Soccer Celebration on July 23. Fans can vote at SoundersFC.com/ScarfVote.
Following a 3-0 loss at Sporting Kansas City on the road, Sounders FC (2-5-4, 10 points) returns to the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field on Saturday to take on Real Salt Lake. Kickoff is slated for 2:00 p.m. PT, with pre-match coverage from JOEtv beginning at 1:30 p.m. PT. Saturday's contest is also being broadcast locally on Univision-Seattle, KIRO Radio 97.3 FM and El Rey 1360 AM.