We left the house at 4:30 Sunday afternoon, so we would have plenty of time to cruise the parking lot at the Link Light Rail station, waiting for parking to open up. The Mariners Baseball game, which drew just about 25,000 people, got out about 4:00, so we knew the trains would be arriving full of baseball fans who would then open up spaces for the surge of soccer fans.
And we knew there would be a whole lot of soccer fans, because while usually for Sounders soccer the stadium is only partially open, for about 40,000, today it would be completely open for a possible 67,000. You see, we were playing our biggest rivals, the team we love to hate, the Portland Timbers.
Our plan worked and we were soon on the Link, headed downtown.
With plenty of time to kill, since ESPN had pushed the start time of the match back to 7:30, we stopped for a pre-game drink at our friendly Starbucks at the International District/China Town Station, where I ordered my free birthday coffee beverage, an iced mocha. Tom had something really fancy.
There was a festival going on in China Town, so we walked through, enjoying the crowd, a mix of Asians and Sounders fans, and some who were of both categories. With the festival closing at 6:00, the surge reversed toward the stadiums.
We went farther uptown to Occidental Park, for the meet up to the March to the Match.
There were thousands gathered here. I never did see how many as we joined in at the front edge of the crowd.
I do know that the procession to the stadium was many blocks long, and when we arrived there was a mob to get through the security screening and the ticket gates.
We worked our way up to the third tier and enjoyed the view and caught the breeze coming in over the sound before we bought some hot dogs and went in to find our seats. During the day, clouds had moved in to slightly temper the heat, and thunder storms were a possibility.
Pre-game activities were under way: the procession of the players,
the singing of the National Anthem,
the bombs bursting in air,
and the deployment of the tifo, which Tom and I actually spent one evening working on. I drew part of the Space Needle!
As you can see, there were a few soccer fans there, 64,280 to be exact.
First Kick brings jets of fire and a shower of streamers.
The first half was tense, but scoreless, and we ventured out to the concourse for the breeze and the view and to enjoy the first color of the sunset.
Back in our seats, we had a window onto alpenglow on Mt. Rainier.
As the sun hit that break in the clouds low on the horizon, it did magical things to the stadium arch on the east side.
A thunder head had moved overhead, but there was just a bit of rain and no pyrotechnics.
With the sunset behind us and concealed from us, we caught only the red glow in the north end of the stadium as the day slowly faded into night.
And there was a rosy glow on the faces of the Sounders fans too, with this final result. We sent those Timbers packing!
And still the glow lingered as thousands of people descended into the city.
We took our time leaving and then walked uptown to catch the Link, away from the stadium stations, where we knew we could get a seat. And as we walked to our car, the super moon was rising to perpetuate the glow of a wonderful summer evening in Seattle.