The 2019 MLS Cup was a memorable day for Sounders FC fan Sean Foster. Raúl Ruidíaz icing the match just in front of section 123, where he’s had season tickets since he moved to Sumner in 2017, was probably his favorite moment of the match.
For Foster, a French teacher at Sumner High School, the most extraordinary moment occurred after the final whistle.
Since 2005, he has collected flags from all over the world. In an ode to Sounders FC team captain Nicolás Lodeiro, Foster has hung his Uruguay flag in front of his section for the last couple of years.
Basking in the team’s 3-1 victory in MLS Cup, Foster stayed long after the final whistle to watch the trophy lift and on-field celebrations.
“I take the bus down to Puyallup and I was thinking that it was getting close to the time I’d have to leave,” recalled Foster. “So, I went to go get my flag. Nico was just running by on the field. He asked if he could borrow the flag and I was like ‘of course!’”
Foster spent the rest of the evening pouring over every Sounders video he could find online. In one such interview, he noticed Lodeiro sporting his Uruguay flag in the locker room. While fielding questions from the assembled media, the Sounders FC captain had champagne dumped on his head by teammate Jordy Delem.
“It’s a weird souvenir, but as far as sports memorabilia goes, it can get pretty weird,” said Foster. “People get game-worn jerseys and I wanted that dirty, old, champagne-soaked flag.”
Two days later, Foster set off for Seattle to attend the Champions Parade and Rally. As he was walking from downtown to the Fisher Pavilion Lawn at Seattle Center, he bumped into Lodeiro. Foster introduced himself to the midfield maestro as the man who’d loaned him his Uruguay flag.
“He called his wife over and told her I was the guy with the flag,” said Foster. “She took me over to the van they were using and introduced me to their kids. His wife was really nice. She opens up the van and she’s got the flag right there all folded up and ready to go.”
Since the flag had been soaked in beer and champagne during the post-match festivities, she washed the it in hopes of returning it Foster during the Parade and Rally.
“It was a super nice gesture for him to do that, and to even think of bringing it.”
Foster poses with Lodeiro and his Uruguay flag during the Champions Parade and Rally.
After the rally, Lodeiro and Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei stuck around to meet and sign autographs for the thousands of fans in attendance. With the Uruguay flag back in his possession, Foster approached Lodeiro and asked him to sign it.
“It’s probably the coolest piece of sports memorabilia I have,” added Foster. “That’s the part that I think is so cool about Nico, He stayed super late signing stuff for all the kids that were there. He plays for a major South American national team and he’s still super connected to the culture in Seattle.”
They say you should never meet your heroes because you’ll only come away from the experience disappointed. That old adage doesn’t apply to Lodeiro, who is beloved by Sounders fans for his production on the pitch and down-to-earth persona off it.
“I don’t think it made me think of Nico any differently. I think it just confirmed what I already thought about him. If you’ve never met somebody before, people attribute things to athletes and public figures. It’s nice to meet somebody and have those things confirmed.”