On Saturday, I was fortunate enough to score four free Seattle Sounders tickets and took my family to a pro soccer game. Never one to jump up and cheer at a bunch of strange people playing a sport on my TV screen, I now find myself overly interested in the Seattle Sounders. If anyone isn’t sure who I’m referring to, the Sounders are a group of men who play soccer like their lives depend on it. They wear lime green and sky blue uniforms (love the combination), play games at Qwest Field (now named Century Link, for anyone who didn’t get the memo) and draw huge crowds to watch them kick a little black-and-white ball around an enormous turf field. This is the MLS. Major League Soccer.
My husband and I were ultra-excited to take our young daughter to her first pro soccer game, seeing she’s put in hundreds of hours watching her brother play soccer and deserved to see the big boys do it up good (Our son has been to many games with friends). She was excited about the free lunch box they gave all the kids that night, her own Papa John pizza, and the cotton candy man who climbed the aisles to lure kiddies with $3.25 for half a teaspoon of spun sugar.
We've managed to hold off on buying her an expensive ticket to watch a sport we aren’t even sure she understands, but after Saturday night I realized that oodles of parents bring their young children to the games. Kiddies ranging in age from teens to newborns arrive to the event suited in Sounders gear, hair painted green, scarves and banners ready to wave. There is no doubt it’s fun for the kids at this type of event, especially if it’s sprinkled with sugary treats and parental excitement. Some kids even bring those god-awful vuvuzelas (that sound like moose birthing calls,) which I think should be banned at games for disturbing the peace. Two kids near us had the noisy devices, much to the dismay of a breast- feeding mother in front of them. Granted, bringing a baby to a game is asking for it but those long horns we all saw at the World Cup in Africa last year are REALLY REALLY INCREDIBLY LOUD, close up. I’d happily sign a petition to have them banned from sporting events.
After being part of the 36,000 people who watched the Seattle Sounders beat D.C. United on Saturday night, here are my tips as a parent:
Parking is expensive so take the free shuttle from Sammamish. Just kidding – there is no such thing. Parking is $30 at the Stadium or $15-$20 across the street in parking lots and garages.
Eating establishments are everywhere inside so unless you’re opposed to paying $8 for a burger, go ahead and arrive hungry. The smell of the garlic fries will drive you nuts anyways. Beer is dear and although alcohol enforcement officers in red shirts are watching for rabble rousers, I can’t imagine anyone spending the money to get to the drunk point, seeing it's $8 a beer. There’s pizza, Mexican food, burgers, chicken – everything you’ll see on a kids’ menu at Red Robin. It’s fun to get in your seats early and watch the pregame show on the screens. The Sounders are big into benevolent work with children and it’s touching to see all that they do to make kids’ lives better. It’s not just an athletic team partly owned by Drew Carey, the comedian.
When the game starts you must be ready for the chanting which is lead by what I like to call the Crazy South End People. My son informed me that they are called Emerald City Supporters and arrive in a bus together. They are a breed of superfans who have flags, drums and things to make them especially loud when called for. An example of how well their cheers work was after a particularly lively chant on Saturday, our boys raced down the field and scored a goal. Now tell me that fans can’t help win the game.
When you go to a Sounders game, just remember that if you hear a thousand people sing “Seattle” you must call back “Sounders.” If they say “Scarves Up Seattle” you must hold your scarf (sold at Sammamish ) in the air. If you feel lost as to which cheer to sing, just watch your neighbor. Needless to say, if the Sounders score a goal you stand up quickly, throw your hands in the air, cheer, then high five your neighbor, smile and nod. The first Sounders game I went to had me sitting in the bleachers in the North End with a bunch of Redmond Boys and Girls Club children, many of whom did not understand what we were cheering for but still did it. It’s like that at a Seattle Sounders game.
My son is on the younger Sounders Academy team, a group of three teams of boys between 15 and 18 who train rigorously to hopefully one day become a Seattle Sounder. These developmental teams are crazy good and play freakishly well, with the benefits of the finest coaches, excellent gear and the possibility of rubbing elbows in the locker room with the pro team. It’s just one of the many avenues the Seattle Sounders have taken to making kids’ dreams come true.
The Sounders rock and it's not so bad being a Sounder fan either. They're the best in the nation, turning out in droves for every game, even in the rain and after attending two games in the last few weeks, I can understand why. It's infectious. Soccer is on the rise in America, wearing green and blue is on the rise in Seattle and the Sounders are a great team to watch. With only two games left before playoffs I recommend you go ahead, get some logo wear, take your kids to a game and tell me it wasn’t worth it!