I went to my first Sounders game on Saturday at Qwest Field. Actually, it was my first soccer game ever, if you don’t count the thousands of youth games I’ve sat through, watching my kids play. (I exaggerate — but only slightly).
I’ll be up front about it — I’m not a soccer guy. I’ve never come to appreciate the nuances of the sport, hard as I’ve tried. But I don’t put down those that do. I’m stunned by the growing number of soccer fanatics I’m running across these days, including a couple in our office that can debate the intracacies of the English Premier League the way the rest of us debate MLB.
I must say, I enjoyed the experience at Qwest, as did my kids. The atmosphere was festive, the play on the field spirited, even if it ended in yet another tie, 1-1. That’s five straight ties for the Sounders in a league that has had more than 40 percent of its games end in deadlocks. Can you imagine if you plunked down your money for a Mariners game, sat through three hours, and had it end 1-1 after nine innings? And then everyone got up and left? It wouldn’t be satisfactory, obviously, and I can’t believe that fans are satisfied with one tie after another.
But that’s not the point of this post. What I was struck by most was the utter jubilation when the Sounders scored their goal. In addition to the wild celebration on the field by the players, the fans went absolutely nuts. It was like VJ Day in Times Square — strangers embracing, high-fiving, jumping up and down, yelling, screaming, hyper-ventilating. I assume the euphoria is because goals are such rare and precious things in soccer.
Hmmm. Rare and precious — kind of like runs by the Mariners. In 52 games, the Mariners have scored two or fewer runs in a staggering 21 of them — 40 percent! And there’s not even a goal keeper protecting home plate.
So here’s my suggestion. If you happen to be at Safeco Field and the Mariners cross the plate, pretend you’re at a soccer match. Go crazy. It might be awhile before you have another chance to celebrate.