Some people may doubt the fans of a team being able to influence a player’s choice on where they want to play. Well, Sounders fans pulled a little Hal Sutton action. You don’t know what that is? Well, Sutton has a very famous quote from his final hole of the 2000 Players Championship. On Saturday, June 8th, Seattle Sounders fans were the right club. They weren’t the putter that closed out the win, but they were the wedge that was knocked it stiff, 10 feet from the hole.
On that day the Sounders were playing their rival the Vancouver Whitecaps at Century Link Field. A crowd of 53,679 was in the stands that day and even more were in the bars around the stadium. During the game, as many people have heard, Clint Dempsey was walking around near the stadium. He saw the passion and atmosphere that only that only the fans of Seattle can create. Deuce saw something that he couldn’t in any other city in America. The bars were standing room only for a soccer game. A game in a football stadium that was almost filled to the brim, as well. He got to see what it was like from a fans perspective. He got to witness it from a players perspective, three days later, when United States Men’s National Team beat Panama on the same field. The attendance of that game was 40,847, which is seventh all time for a home FIFA World Cup Qualifier.
What player wouldn’t want to play in a stadium with that many fans? The Sounders are number one in MLS attendance with 40,520 per match. The second best team is the Los Angeles Galaxy at 21,764. That is a difference of 18,756, which is greater than 10 of the other 18 teams average attendance per game. You could double 15 of those 18 teams attendance and not reach what Seattle brings every game. Sure, dominating the U.S. in attendance doesn’t seem that hard, because soccer isn’t close to the top sport in this country. Well, Seattle would have ranked seventh and eighth the last two seasons in the English Premier league. More fans go to a Sounders match than go to Yankees games, in fact only three Major League Baseball teams out draw Seattle (Dodgers, Cardinals and Giants). NBA and NHL arenas would burst at the seams trying to hold Sounders’ fans.
On that day when Clint Dempsey was in town, Sounders fans you were the right club. You influenced one of the best soccer players in America to come to your city. Sure, Adrian Hanauer was the putter that dropped the putt to seal the victory, but it was you the fans that made that putt extremely easy. No one should ever doubt the power Seattle fans have with bringing players here.
Clint Dempsey. Deeeeeuuuuccce. How I heart you so.
How I’ve always loved you so as a player. As a preface to all this, you are the reason I began following the EPL. Sure there’s been McBride and Joe Max Moore before you, and of course our keepers (TIMMAY!!!), but you were the first my-generation field player I could watch regularly play at 7 AM on Saturday mornings as US coverage expanded. You always fascinated me with your perma-scowl yet irrefutable joy when you play. As Bruce Arena so famously said, you “just try sh*t.”
I even am a huge fan of your rap song. Seriously.
You are my ultimate sports man-crush. You should have seen the stupid grin on my face at the World Cup Qualifier here in Seattle when you were introduced and I witnessed you playing live. A very real argument can be made that you are on the same level as Landon Donovan as the best American field player.
And now you’re flying from Heathrow to the West Coast. Rumors are flying about Seattle wanting to bring you here and for the last few hours I’ve been guilty of joining in on soccer’s “silly season,” letting far-flung rumors allow me think, verbatim: No way is this real. Ohmygod this might be real. NO WAY CAN THIS BE HAPPENING. IT MIGHT BE HAPPENING.
Maybe this is the Chicago-sports fan in me that forces a level-head no matter how well things may be going…