Friday, November 2, 2012
MLS Fan Watch: Seattle Sounders
By Chris Gigley ESPN The Magazine
The Sounders set a North American soccer record by averaging 43,144 fans at CenturyLink Field this season.
Editor's note: Welcome to MLS Fan Watch, in which ESPN Playbook takes a closer look at the supporting group for each of the eight MLS conference semifinalists. First up: fans of the Seattle Sounders.
You’d think playing in a cavernous football stadium with a 67,000-seat capacity would give the Sounders little, if any, home-field mojo.
You’d be wrong.
Seattle set a North American soccer record this year, averaging 43,144 very loud fans per game at CenturyLink Field.
The Sounders faithful almost filled all 67,000 seats for an Oct. 7 match against archrival Portland. Yes, these guys are legit.
Foes can expect that kind of large, amped-up crowd in the MLS playoffs. Before Seattle hosts tonight's first leg of its conference semifinal with Real Salt Lake, here's an inside look at Sounders fans:
• Stadium: CenturyLink Field
• Opened: 2002
• Capacity: 67,000
• Supporter groups and stadium locations:
- North End Faithful (Sections 145-151)
- Furia Imortal (Sections 145-151)
- Eastside Supporters (Section 150)
- Emerald City Supporters (Sections 121-123)
- Gorilla FC (Section 120)
• Known for: The Sound Wave, a 53-member marching band. The Sounders were the first MLS team to have one, and the band of brass and marching percussion are part of the Emerald City Supporters' pregame March to the Match from Occidental Park to CenturyLink Field. The band settles into the north end of the stadium and takes part in songs and chants.
"Go Sounders Go
Fight Sounders Fight
And the entire world will tremble at your might
We sing for you
We love you so
And we will follow you wherever you may go
We are the blue! We are the blue!
We are the green! We are the green!
We are the ECS, and you can hear us scream! Hear us scream!
For our boys! For our boys!
Until the end! Until the end!
Our love for you only the Gods can understand! Can understand!"
Alonso started 30 games this season.
• Fan favorite: Osvaldo Alonso, midfielder. Fredy Montero might get most of the national attention, but Alonso, a Cuban-American who defected during the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament in Houston, is the player Sounders fans lovingly call Honey Badger.
Alonso, who turns 27 on Nov. 11, is a tenacious defensive midfielder who can also boost the offense with his passing ability.
• Opponent’s perspective: Real Salt Lake defender Nat Borchers has endured CenturyLink Field’s raucous crowds for the past decade, first as a member of the Colorado Rapids and now with RSL. It’s no surprise he knows what it takes to win there: Take the crowd out of it early.
"Getting that first goal for either side is going to be big, because it can really change the momentum of the game and could change the outcome of the series," he told the Deseret News on Thursday.
For opposing teams, no sound is sweeter than the stunned silence of 60,000-plus Sounder fans.