Seattle makes U.S. Soccer’s World Cup qualifying gamble pay off

CenturyLink Field

By IVES GALARCEP

SEATTLE- As much as you can argue it was always a sure bet, and there wasn’t that much risk involved, U.S. Soccer gambled when it chose Seattle as a venue for a World Cup Qualifier. Not because Seattle isn’t an amazing soccer city, but because of the lack of a permanent grass field at the city’s top soccer venue, and because of the travel it would involve for the national team in the middle of a qualifying campaign.

The gamble was worth taking because of this city’s track record supporting the Seattle Sounders, and because of the strong likelihood that holding an important U.S. Men’s National Team match here just might produce something magical.

On Tuesday night, U.S. Soccer’s gamble paid off handsomely, and not only did the national team play very well on a playing surface that some were concerned would yield an ugly game, the crowd and atmosphere for the U.S. team’s 2-0 victory vs. Panama was one that wowed players and observers alike.

“The best,” Michael Bradley called the atmosphere at CenturyLink Field on Tuesday when asked how it measured up to atmospheres at past national team matches. “I think for anybody who was in the stadium tonight, we were all able to experience something special.

“The atmosphere. The noise. I don’t think people sat down for one minute the entire game,” Bradley said. “As players, we can’t stress enough what a big difference that makes. Obviously, we all know what a special thing they have going on here with the Sounders, and to see that carried over to the national team on a night like tonight, a big qualifier and a big night, that was great. We hope to be back here soon and we hope to fill the stadium again.”

Were the concerns about the temporary grass field conditions justified? To a point. The reality is the U.S. has played high-profile matches in such conditions before, including matches against the likes of Argentina and Spain. The difference last Tuesday was that it was a World Cup qualifier, and the theory was that the U.S. was giving up a bit of its competitive advantage by playing on a less-than-perfect field (and by traveling several thousand miles further than it needed to by playing in the Pacific Northwest rather than somewhere on the East Coast).

That was a tradeoff the USMNT was willing to make in order to put the team in an environment that could yield a great home-field advantage. That is exactly what the U.S. received from the more than 40,000 fans who filled CenturyLink Field. Fans who stood and sang and celebrated for the better part of 90 minutes, matching or surpassing the atmosphere of any USMNT home match anyone can recall.

There is no denying that the grass-over-turf set-up had its issues, as evidenced by all the slipping and sliding Panamanian players could be seen doing during the match, but ultimately the field conditions were no disadvantage for the U.S. team. You could argue it helped the Americans considering U.S. players appeared to have far less trouble with it than Panama.

In the end,  the decision to make Seattle a World Cup qualifying venue proved to be a master stroke because it not only showed the country that the city’s passion for soccer could translate to the U.S. Men’s National Team, it gives the USMNT another rock solid venue to add to the list, alongside Columbus and Kansas City, which have established themselves as places where the U.S. can count on fervent support and a packed stadium.

What Seattle did was take it to a new level, filling a stadium twice the size of most other regular USMNT qualifying venues. It wasn’t just a stadium full of fans. It was a stadium full of energy and inspiration. And to be sure, it was not just a stadium of Seattle residents. Many of the same fans who have helped turn Portland into one of the league’s best stadium atmospheres also turned out in force, along with American Outlaw members from all over the country.

The pilgrimage to Seattle by so many fans from as far north as Alaska, and as far East as New York, wasn’t just about seeing the U.S. team play. It was also about wanting to experience the spectacle of Pacific Northwest soccer. The result was a perfect storm of fan passion that certainly played a part in helping drive the U.S. team to their most impressive performance in recent memory.

It might take a few years, but the USMNT will return to Seattle eventually (most likely for a HEX match in 2017, if not a qualifier in 2016 or Gold Cup in 2015), and the next time it does, you won’t hear as many questions and concerns as you did this time around.

Yes, travel distance is still an issue, and the Seattle Seahawks aren’t likely to install real grass any time soon, but that doesn’t change the fact that this city has proven without a shadow of a doubt that those minor inconveniences can’t and won’t stand in the way of Seattle maintaining a rightful place as a home for the U.S. Men’s National Team for years to come.

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158 Responses to Seattle makes U.S. Soccer’s World Cup qualifying gamble pay off

  1. HoboMike says:

    It will probably have to be the second game in a qualifying group, as there is no way the European-based players can fly that far (unless there is an East Coast camp or something like that).

    Absolutely hilarious that the Mariners game that made the attendance be capped ended up having 10,200 people, or roughly 25% of those at the soccer game. Fail, Mariners.

    I was hating on Seattle, and hating more when it became apparent that the game wasn’t sold out. Humbly, I tip my cap.

    • Chr says:

      HoboMike, the place was electric! I was sitting in the south west corner near AO, they were was amazing and the Tifo brought the crowd up even higher before kickoff. Everybody stood for 90 minutes as well always do for our Sounders FC. The fans I met traveling to Seattle we amazed and left wanting more! #EBFG

    • Weston John says:

      As long as we’re humbly making confessions, I must admit that during the first 10-15 minutes of the game I thought Cameron was going to be a liability watching him make errant passes out of bounds to no one in particular. Humbly, I tip my cap to Cameron for being a MONSTER D-Mid.

      As for Seattle, RESPECT….well done.

    • Charles says:

      yeah, the Ms drew 10k…with 5k disguised as empty seats.

    • Grant says:

      Hobo,

      Excuse my ignorance, but what do you mean by this “the Mariners game that made the attendance be capped” ? Am I reading it correctly that the Mariners can put a limit to how many fans are allowed to go to another sporting event?

      • bryan says:

        interestingly enough, it was the case. they capped the attendance so there wouldn’t be two stadiums worth of people in that small area. something i don’t expect to happen again.

      • bryan says:

        i should say, there was a cap. not sure if it was the Mariners who made the decision. my guess is the city.

        • Mark says:

          that was ridiculous planning on the part of somebody, probably the US Soccer Federation. They must not have coordinated with the city officials well.

          The whole purpose of going to Seattle was so that the stadium would have tons of people. That’s why the USSF spent approximately $100,000 to install the grass.

          They could have played the Panama game in Utah and then the Honduras game in Seattle on the 18th when the Mariners are playing away in Anaheim, California.

          Big time Fail on the part of Sunil Gulati.

          • J says:

            Good point. Mariners are away next Tuesday. Well, for add’l 10k fans? not sure. Take it easy on the M’s BTW. We’re on a 7 year rebuilding plan!!

            BTW, the flight back/forth from Seattle to Europe: I think only about 25% longer by memory. Besides, does Columbus have direct flights from London?

            • Jeff says:

              Flight time from London to Seattle is the same as to Houston, about 2 hrs longer than to NYC or DC. Much less travel time than to KC or Columbus due to lack of direct flights to those cities. Nonstops to Seattle from several major European cities not just London.

              • divers suck says:

                How come the “travel time” is only mentioned for flights to Seattle. Never a mention when the venues are in California. Also, it’s only the suits of the media that ever mention it. When do you hear/read the players saying anything? Especially now with the majority of Europe in their off-season…

            • Gary Page says:

              The US team was coming from Jamaica, not Europe, something a lot of people have over looked. Also, before the Jamaica game, most players were in camp in Florida. Whatever, with modern air travel, don’t see travel time as much an issue as other factors.

          • beto says:

            i think putting the Honduras game there would have been more appropriate, big stadium for the bigger game and you wouldn’t have the cap issue… but take it easy on Sunil and USSF! everything about the trip to Seattle, except the airport on the way home, was just amazing!!

            Jurgen, Sunil, the entire USMNT setup and AO National and every chapter that was apart of the last few games has been perfect!

          • Actually, UW graduation is on Saturday 6/15 at CLink. That would not have allowed enough time for the temporary grass to settle before a Tuesday match.

            It was originally rumored that Seattle was going to get the Honduras match, until the UW graduation issue came up.

          • Soncho says:

            UW has the place booked for Graduation I thought this was known,

            link to washington.edu

      • Brian says:

        The City capped it, I think the limit is 100k fans in both stadiums at one time. Mariners had preference because their game was scheduled first but I’m sure USSF and CLink field could have changed it if they thought they could sell all the seats.

        • dc13 says:

          Honestly what I think what went down is the USSF saw this game as both a good home boost and a large revenue generator. In both instances it came out right. A lot of people were saying Seattle couldn’t sell out, and a lot of people in Seattle were saying the tickets were fairly expensive. Both turned out right: the home field helped the team and USSF got a good bit of profit out of it. If it helps in the long term, I’m sold.

      • Ivy says:

        Grant,
        As the stadiums are across the street from one another there is a city law that requires either staggered non-overlapping playing times or capped attendance to limit congestion in the area. Since the Mariners game was the previously scheduled event they took first priority, and since theoretically Safeco Field COULD have as many as 54K people at the game (snort), the attendance at CLink was capped at 42K. It’s lame, but it has little to do with the Mariners or USSF and a lot to do with the Longshoremen’s union lobby and the fact that the stadiums are in the direct route to and from the Port of Seattle.

    • Vic says:

      In fairness, 4 days before the game only 34k tickets had been sold. The reason was the high ticket prices. Tickets started at $50 which were all sold out. Most tickets were going in the $100 range.

      • arnyard says:

        I questioned if the ticket prices were the reason that there wasn’t a true sellout, and the Mariner game was used as an excuse. There was never a doubt that 40,000 tickets would be sold, no matter if the prices were at $50 or $100. But if nosebleed seats had been in the $25-30 range, could Centurylink Field been filled to capacity (67,000)?

        • cheap_tick says:

          The stadium certainly would have been full if a large number of $25-40 tickets were available. The Sounders easily draw 60k against teams like Vancouver and Portland when they open more seats up. In fact, I went to a Mexico-Ecuador friendly there in 2011(?) that drew 50k+ if my memory serves me.

    • Travis in Miami says:

      My Brazilian boss came in today and told me THE ATMOSPHERE of the game made the front page of the sport section of Brazil’s largest web-portal UOL.com . They featured the chant/song about USA coming to Brazil. They included shots from highlights of the crowd chanting in unison and the huge flags. the post has since been relegated to a blog post. But I find it astounding that this would even be reprted in Brazil

      link to uolesporte.blogosfera.uol.com.br

    • bubbles says:

      How far is a flight from any major European city to Seattle? 8-10 hours? Not really farther than to places like Chicago or Kansas City or Dallas. Closer than Los Angeles. Farther than New York and the Eastern Seaboard, sure. But really just not a huge deal in the bigger picture. Might want to make sure a Seattle game isn’t sandwiched between say Panama and Trinidad and Tobago, haha.

    • Michael says:

      As long as the USMNT’s primary training ground is in LA, the “too far to travel” argument doesn’t wash. LA to the East Coast is farther than LA to Seattle, and there’s no time zone issue.

  2. bryan says:

    it was great. i still think people need to give RFK credit. everytime the US plays there, it is sold out, it’s extremely pro-American (unless we play Honduras or El Salvador). i know RFK is old and probably way unsafe for 47,000, but the way the sound stays in that stadium makes it LOUD. it’s not Seattle, but i think it deserves a mention as a solid venue.

    • Mike says:

      Agree with you there. RFK was rocking for the Germany friendly.

      • bryan says:

        yeah man. i was there for the US game when Bornstein scored the tying goal against Costa Rica. absolutely nothing in it for the US, and we still didn’t even win, but that place went INSANE when he scored. most likely the Charlie Davis situation had something to do with it, but still. that was the same game where the entire stadium put up the #9s. the first one. lots of passion in that area for US soccer. clear and pure emotion in the stadium that night.

        • Gary Page says:

          The difference for the US was that draw put us top of CONCACAF, not that it mattered at that point. It was much more important for Honduras, of course. It might have mattered if the CONCACAF’s top team were to be seeded in the WC.

      • 2pac shakur says:

        I was at that friendly; I think we held it down and that was a friendly. If you give DC something to cheer about they come out in droves….

    • Old School says:

      RFK was rocking for the Germany match, there’s no denying that.

      • bryan says:

        the best part is the supporter’s section side. it’s like a trampoline when everyone starts jumping. that can’t be safe, but it’s hella fun. lol

    • beto says:

      +1, RFK had at least 10,000 more US fans too.

      Every home qualifier game this cycle has been legit and quite a few friendlies like vsGER in DC have been great too.

    • jake says:

      Or Jamaica

    • I’ve been to both RFK and Centurylink. RFk is old but the parking is great for pre-post game parties, I was suprised to see grass and trees where people were set up before the game. But the facility is old and shows it. I’d be afraid to pogo at RFK, the thng might collapse. Centurylink was in great shape, clean and with the most comfortable stadium seats I’ve been in. The game Tuesday was terrific in all respects.

      • Nate Dollars says:

        washingtonians have been making rfk bounce for 50 years; don’t think it’ll collapse anytime soon.

        /holds breath, keeps jumping

    • NeoGeek says:

      I’m not so sure. I remember watching a friendly between Real Madrid and DCU and the overwhelming number of fans were wearing RM jerseys.

  3. Mike R says:

    The field was crap and not World Cup worthy. Luckily for USA Panama didn’t bunker. It would be hard to beat a team that bunkers there. That pitch cost us a 4-0 result. If you have to cap the attendance what’s the point of having it there.

    • bryan says:

      omg go away.

    • Hopper says:

      Was the field in Commerce City World Cup worthy?

      Maybe if the World Cup was in Qatar.

    • Adam says:

      There happened to be a baseball game the same day and time of kickoff. Seattle police made the decision to cap attendance. If you can’t see the point of having a game in Seattle, go watch a different sport.

    • whoop-whoop says:

      Really Mike? Did you watch the match? If you did, you can’t really be that dense… you have to understand what the point was. Right? I’m sure any one of the players could give you a hint. Start with the Bradley quote.

      I wonder, is it somehow more of an issue to have attendance limited to 40k by this scheduling rule than it is to be limited to 20k by stadium capacity? Only makes one wonder what it’d be like full to the rim.

      p.s.: the pitch had nothing to do with the score-line, but the post and crossbar…. definitely guilty!

    • Philly Union Rule says:

      The Seattle field seemed to be a non issue once they kicked off and played. See post match commentary. The field at RFK is PERFECT, PERFECT, PERFECT. I was at US Germany. What a great field.

  4. Elber Galarga says:

    The heck with Columbus, that is where the NT should play Mexico.

    • Thisten says:

      Aren’t we 3-0 against Mexico in Columbus?

    • Josh says:

      I’m not even from Columbus, but you can’t take the Mexico game away from there. It’s like our Azteca against Mexico. Not to mention, middle of the country is still more ideal even if it’s not a touristy destination

      • Ross says:

        If Columbus is our Azteca does that mean we are going to tie everyone 0-0 there?

      • NC Jeff says:

        +1 Josh … we can certainly use multiple “fortresses,” or even specific fortresses for specific teams. I really think the latter is a good idea – we are such a melting pot here that an area that’s really good for some opponents may not be that great for others (Ex.: Seattle was a great place to play Panama, but definitely not a good place to play Canada … while Jersey may be good vs. Canada, but probably not Panama).

      • Joe+G says:

        Mexico drew 56,416 to a friendly against China on a Weds. night in 2008. Sounds like they have a pretty big following in the Pacific NW.

        • Stateside Supporter says:

          The difference from the 2008 match that you’re overlooking is that season ticket holders, supporters groups and others with pre-sale privileges would SIGNIFICANTLY limit the number of tickets that went to general sale if the US played Mexico in Seattle.

          Are there Mexican STHs? Of course, but it is very lily-white up here in the PNW…one of my very few complaints about living in Seattle, actually…

        • AgentJ says:

          There are a lot of asians in Seattle as well.

    • beachbum says:

      disagree…Columbus just fine to play Mexico.

    • Frank says:

      Being from Columbus, I enjoy having games here, but at some point (US) demand is going to make it an undesirable location. It just seems like it would make more sense to have the game elswhere when you can pack 40 or 50 thousand fans into a stadium supporting your team. There has to be a way to restrict sales to fans of the opponent and to have a separate section within the stadium.

      • 2pac shakur says:

        I kinda think that Cleveland friendly was a test run and Ohio failed. I love Midwest games but I love big atmosphere more

      • Charles says:

        Gonna be hard to stop US Citizens, or at least residents from buying tickets. The Champions league games against the Mexican teams were well attended by “away” fans.

        There are quite a few hispanics that attend regular season Sounders games too. When the Nat team comes, I have a guy feeling many are rooting for Mexico. I understand, if I moved to Mexico, I would root for both with US favored too.

        • Cavan says:

          It’s about knowing which cities have which immigrant populations. At the Gold Cup quarterfinal doubleheader in 2011, the Salvadoran immigrant fans all rooted for the U.S. against Jamaica before going bananas for the El-Salvador-Panama game. However, I’d never play a World Cup qualifier against Honduras or El Salvador at RFK because those Central American immigrants will cheer for their country of origin over the U.S.

          However, their kids who grew up here and are bilingual cheer for the U.S. first so maybe that dynamic will change in a few decades.

          The key with Columbus is that it doesn’t have a large Mexican-American community and the venue is small enough that they can fill it through the American Outlaws etc. to guarantee a home game rather than the 2011 Gold Cup final.

          • Nate Dollars says:

            ‘However, their kids who grew up here and are bilingual cheer for the U.S. first so maybe that dynamic will change in a few decades.’

            well that has not been my experience at all. some of my friends will cheer for the US and their parents’ country equally, but the vast majority of them cheer for their parents’ country first, then brasil or whatever, then the US (if at all). i actually can’t think of any that cheer for the US first.

      • beto says:

        true. i am planning on attending my first USxMEX in CLB this year; would you say its the location (least amount of mexican fans+strong USNT fan base+potential weather) or the fact that Crew Stadium is just familiar and manageable enough for the US to be 3-0 vs Mexico there?

        i would love to see our biggest game at our bigger stadiums but not at the cost of a single point. i think Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Green Bay, Detroit, Nashville would all be cool venues for USAxMEX or we could just keep it where it has worked over and over again.

        as for Seattle, we should pin this for Honduras. they seem to travel well to any where in the US and the crowd in Seattle can overpower them.

  5. beachbum says:

    I plan on being there for the next one whenever it happens

  6. Old School says:

    Seattle, great job with the support – no one around the country questions your passion, we just hate your field situation.

    However, it wasn’t nearly as bad as advertised prior to the game.

    Great showing but SKC is still my favored venue for the Nats given everything: support, location, and field quality in their SSS.

    • Josh says:

      If they can make (L)SP bigger, I think it would be the ideal place for games just on getting people to come from all over the country. Until then, there’s really no perfect place. KC/Columbus have location, Seattle/DC have big numbers, Denver has snow. All advantageous in their own way, so good to have options.

      • Brian from Denver says:

        Denver has snow and altitude! I was at the Snow Clasico – it was amazing to hear 19,500 people all sing the National Anthem. The in-game singing however didn’t come close to the Panama game. The Seattle fans definitely know how to bring the atmosphere. I also don’t know why people are bitching about the pitch – the Seattle temporary pitch was still better than any other CONCACAF home field pitch.

        • beto says:

          Denver’s 5280′ should be remembered as a key component why we looked so composed at Azteca. if we get another home game before traveling to mexico we should absolutely play that card again!

          • Gary Page says:

            I was pushing for Colorado as the venue of that game as soon as the schedule was released because of the altitude issue. In fact, I think the choice of Colorado was more risky and more debated than Seattle was. It has all turned out well, let’s hope that continues in Utah with Honduras.

      • Old School says:

        I can agree with those points, Josh.

        I’m just saying from MY perspective, KC is the ideal home for all the attributes you’re looking for.

  7. Twomilerule says:

    I’m no xenophobe but when paying WC qualifiers the Pacific Northwest has the soccer/futbol culture to deliver a national home field advantage against any team. Just in case you didn’t know soccer is kind of a big deal around here!

    • J says:

      I think this is one of the reasons nobody else cares for the Pacific Northwest, people like you who insist on telling everybody why it’s so much better there. People support the team all over the country, sorry to tell you.

      • jz77 says:

        Yes…and NOBODY in ANY other portion of the country is guilty of such a transgression.

      • QuakerOtis says:

        He didn’t say anything about it being better… but hey, enjoy your regional complex.

      • Twomilerule says:

        J, I agree no one cared about the PNW before there was Boeing, Microsoft and Starbucks. You and jz77 have no sense of sarcasm or it just comes across poorly on a message board.

      • Charles says:

        Lighten up. He is just proud.

        There are great fans all over the US without a doubt. Seattle has numbers though and because of that it transfers to more media coverage, better stadiums ( except for the turf ), etc.

        Why the rest of the nation doesn’t have numbers…I will never get. Bizzarre.

        • Old School says:

          “Lighten up. He is just proud.”

          I would agree with that.

          Unlike a lot of typically annoying Seattle residents, Twomilerule came off more proud than annoying.

      • Gary Page says:

        Being from Southern California where soccer is pretty big, the fact is that Seattle supports its team better than anyone else in MLS, with the best attendance that rivals that of many European teams in top leagues. And I love their enthusiasm. Any carping about Seattle fans is undeserved.

  8. James from DC says:

    I can’t think of any other venue that is more intimidating for opposing teams when it comes to size, location and fan base. A full crowd at CenturyLink Field would be deafening. The Sounders and Timbers’s fan bases are excellent in the way they organize themselves and how loud they are for both club and country. Most teams would have to travel far to get there.

  9. Nate Dollars says:

    ‘There is no denying that the gr@ss-over-turf set-up had its issues, as evidenced by all the slipping and sliding Panamanian players could be seen doing during the match, but ultimately the field conditions were no disadvantage for the U.S. team. You could argue it helped the Americans considering U.S. players appeared to have far less trouble with it than Panama.’

    so are we at the level of costa rica now, where as long as *our* team can handle the surface, it’s fine?

    seattle deserves all the plaudits it’s getting for the great support that showed up, but this isn’t the first time i’ve heard someone say, well, the game atmosphere is so good, it’s okay to have a substandard field.

    • Ceez says:

      Ugh…

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      So are you saying the USMNT should have put a halt to the snow game then since the conditions weren’t ideal?

      It’s not about being “at the level of Costa Rica”. It’s about catering to the areas of the country that have the strongest support for the sport. Also, comparing the temporary grass at CenturyLink Field to the putrid shag rug at Saprissa is a reach. I get your point, but it’s a reach.

      Nobody’s saying that “Heck, I’d play on concrete if it means playing in front of Seattle’s great fans”, but I’d argue the field conditions weren’t nearly as bad as some tried to portray before the game was played.

      • Nate Dollars says:

        i agree about catering to the strongest support, just not at the expense of a ‘level’ playing field. and i think that the only reason the conditions didn’t seem so bad is that people were going ‘chicken little’ over the field before hand. no, it wasn’t a horrible field, but it really wasn’t what you should expect from a nation with resources (both economic and structural) like ours.

        and incidentally, i do think the ‘snow game’ should’ve been cancelled. i think we would’ve won regardless of the conditions, but that was really bad in the second half.

      • Thisten says:

        Along these lines, I’m curious how some of the players feel. Could you ask a few of them Ives? Would they rather play at CenturyLink vs. Sporting or Crew, etc.? I know it’s not quite this simple, but is the “special thing they have going on” in Seattle more important to the players than the gr@ss-over-turf issue?

      • skyman says:

        I take issue with the fact that the US cannot play our finest players, in an international game that matters, on a high quality pitch, in the best soccer atmosphere we can produce (sure, you can argue RFK is the best place to play, but Seattle on most days is the best atmosphere). The problem is that the fans, and the teams deserve it. I’m hearing that tickets were expensive, so when a player cannot cut hard without falling, or judge a bounce to volley (see Fabian’s volley), it compromises the quality of play. Yes both teams have to deal with the field equally, but I’m speaking in terms of entertainment, and being able to provide for the highest quality of play. We are still the richest country on the planet, WTF?

        • bubbles says:

          You say all of that as if a player would never slip or fall or mistime/mishit a ball on a perfect grass field… or even get injured for that matter. A perfect grass field is like some utopia. If only the world had perfect grass fields for all of us to play on.

          Sheesh.

      • Dylan Vanderhoof says:

        Actually, Twellman did say on the broadcast, “You can play in a sandpit for all I care if you’re in front of this crowd”. So, not concrete, but close. :P

    • beachbum says:

      I think your question is a good one Nate Dollars, but ultimately it doesn’t bother me about the grass over turf field

      the other US venues have great fields, even if conditions vary. I remember the crazy storm conditions for the Columbus 2-0 win over Mexico and loving it up there in the cold windy rain, seemed like a true advantage watching from the stands

      Century Link is now another venue in the mix with its own mystique of which that slippery field is now a part, a part that the US seemed adjusted to while Panama did not. ALL the other teams in the region play games at home to their advantage to the millionth degree.

      to me it’s just a part of the game, and the US has another nice card at the table now

      • the unmistakeable Ronaldinho says:

        I couldn’t disagree more with that. We should be striving to have the best playing surface possible for these games. Not every field will be perfect, but making an intentional effort to decrease the quality of the field for our advantage is wrong. The playing surface wasn’t near the worst in concacaf and I hope next time we will make more of an effort to get the sod laid down sooner knowing we have a world cup qualifier coming. Certain venues can have their own advantages (Columbus in the cold, Seattle with its atmosphere ect) thats part of home field. We shouldn’t be intentionally laying down a poor surface for our advantage though.

        • beachbum says:

          I don’t think the surface was intentionally put down to give us an advantage with the actual playing conditions on the pitch, but it did work out that way

          I hope they make every effort in the future to make the field as excellent as possible too.

          I have no problem for these qualis to play on that field again the way it was

          • the unmistakeable Ronaldinho says:

            must have misunderstood you then. I thought you were saying you hoped we would start laying down slippery surfaces for our teams advantage.

        • Jonathan Cracolici says:

          Are you serious? People have been changing the field conditions to benifit themselves since forever! The english famously did so after being embarassed by the hungarians in the 50s. they turned the pitch to a big mud puddle so that they could play thier longball strategy while the hungarians would be unable to use thier famous groundpasses.
          The us didnt do anything even approaching that. They just didnt make the surface PERFECT. big whoop. niether does almost anyone else.

        • NeoGeek says:

          I agree with the unmistakeable Ronaldinho. As anybody could clearly see, the US struggled greatly on Seattle’s temporary pitch and it ultimately ended up causing them to lose the match. Oh, wait a minute…

    • Gary Page says:

      Hey, get Mexico to play their games at lower altitudes and Jamaica to have a better field, etc. We should choose the destination/playing site that best suits the US team. Guyessm, what, every other country does that.

      • Nate Dollars says:

        see, i liked that the US always took the high road: we would win because we played better, not because of some field condition that we had full control over. let other countries try to gain an edge that way–we don’t need it.

  10. Brain Guy says:

    I was (and, honestly, still am) skeptical about the wisdom of playing on the temporary sod, but the benefit of the crowd support is undeniable. Can you imagine a full house at CL (67,000?) chanting and cheering and tifo-ing? Forget about long sleeves and gloves and the Guerra Fria — opponents might need earplugs. No, it’s not a “unique” soccer culture up there, but the combination of stadium size and acoustics and the organization and dedication of the supporters makes it the only venue I can think of that could match the Azteca for intensity and unanimous support.

    • Brian says:

      I don’t like the sod over turf either. Hopefully Seattle impressed USSF enough that they can get future games without having to submit to laying sod for the game.

      • bubbles says:

        No kidding. It’s not like FIFA hasn’t given Seattle’s turf its highest rating for all international games, including WCQs.

  11. Travis says:

    Maybe in the future Seattle can look into trying to lay the sod down a bit further out. I know University of Washington’s graduation dictated a bit about how far out they could lay it down but the further out you can go the better the surface will be. Most people who don’t hate Seattle just for the sake of hating them would agree you can’t question the support that was shown there both in the numbers and atmosphere. However you can certainly ask questions about the pitch, also before anyone says it permanent grass isn’t happening at Century Link so don’t start that argument. It held up decently during the game but there was certainly times where I was a bit worried.

  12. QuakerOtis says:

    Way to kick @.s.s Seattle! Great atmosphere, as usual.

    I don’t think the pitch was a big deal AT ALL. If there were some (imperceptible) problems, then I’m sure a little planning and practice from the grounds crew could smooth it out in future matches.

    And while a single Wembley-type stadium isn’t practical in this country, if we could have three or four mainstays, CLink should be one.

  13. SanFran415 says:

    I’m sorry–fans were passionate–but that pitch was still embarrassing.

    We lucked out when their striker was alone coming in from the left flank–had a direct line at goal–and the turf literally just came out of the ground under him.

    There was a more legitimate complaint about that field than the snow during the Costa Rica match.

    • whoop-whoop says:

      “There was a more legitimate complaint about that field than the snow during the Costa Rica match.”

      That’s kinda funny, but absurdly ridiculous exaggerations do little to support your point.

      There are solutions available to make a quality grass field available @ CL. They are very expensive. If and when it is financially feasible, a solution will magically appear. Things large TV contracts, guaranteed International friendlies and WCQ matches could help. If things continue how they are, who knows?

    • NeoGeek says:

      So you’re saying we would have only won 2-1 instead of 2-0? Aside from the Panamanian slip as the attacking was trying to cut into the box, there really wasn’t any pitch-related mishaps of which to speak. I do find it odd that your umbrage at the temporary pitch is because it hurt our opponent though.

      I’m sorry, but after watching the match, I didn’t see where the pitch affected the play all that much. If anything, playing on a temporary surface should help the Nats prepare for playing their away matches.

  14. Frank says:

    I really don’t understand how so many people call the pitch terrible. I think I saw 1, maybe 2 players slip on the surface. The ball looked like it was playing normal and some US players after the game said it was fine.

    • Scott says:

      Really? Pitch was better than I expected. Crowd was what I expected. Your comment… cray cray.

  15. ATX_Colin says:

    I traveled in from Austin, it was my first USMNT game, I was blown away by the support from the crowd both before and during the game. Life changing. Also The AO crew impressed.

  16. catfish says:

    Bottom line – not a proper soccer pitch – never be home of US soccer. But good showing of support none the less by Pacific NW. But quit telling us how awesome you are.

    BTW no one sat in Columbus for the entire Jamaica game, it was loud and the players all said the same things after the game. I was there and it was a blast. Can’t wait for El Tri.

    • Ceez says:

      I’m a RBNY fan and live 20 mins from Red Bull Arena. So, I’m being totally unbiased when i say to let Seattle be! Give credit where credit is due, regardless of how many times they tell us how awesome they are. They have a right to boast. Heck, we can barely get 18,000 into a 27,000-seat stadium. They easily do 30,000 on a regular basis!

      Columbus, KC, and Seattle…easily the top 3 venues for USMNT support

      Keep it up, Seattle. I’m planning on making a pilgrimage there soon.

      VAMOS USMNT!

    • QuakerOtis says:

      Moderation is not working Ives, too many trolls.

      Catfish: If you are in fact sincere with this comment, then it’s not the PNW people coming off as snobish or elitist, it’s you “not a proper soccer pitch” people.

      Did any of you watch the game? Seems to me there were no problems. Seems to me the ball moved real well. Even “lazy out the door” was able to put one away off a great low cross.

      By the way, not from Cascadia… but you’re all rave-green with envy.

      • Nate Dollars says:

        hi quakerotis, i watched the game, and there were problems. big pieces of the sod were coming up during the game. the announcer commented on it; i actually don’t know how you missed it.

        and while there are certainly worse fields in concacaf; my issues are (1) we don’t have the (dubious) excuse of ‘economic hardship’ that other countries use, and (2) ives made it seem like it wasn’t a problem because ‘U.S. players appeared to have far less trouble with it than Panama’.

        but i guess i’m just one of those jealous trolls…

        • Ives Galarcep says:

          Nate, the field wasn’t nearly the problem people wanted it to be. Wasn’t perfect, but wasn’t a major issue. You can go ahead and still try to say it was one, but I think most would disagree with you.

          • the unmistakeable Ronaldinho says:

            I think its obvious that it didn’t turn out to be a major issue. The ball seemed to move fine across the surface but there were many players losing their footing all over the place. Like Michael Bradley said, “its not ideal” If Jozy had slipped just before putting in his goal and we had drawn 0-0 everyone would be up in arms about how terrible the field was. Extreme situation, yes, but I think the point people are trying to make is there was potential for the field to be an issue. Luckily it wasn’t, but on another day it could have been. Maybe next time they can lay the sod down sooner to let it come together better?

            On another note, Seattle fans just raised the bar for US home support. It was incredible to hear/see. The challenge has been laid down. Can anyone match them?

            • bubbles says:

              Players slip and fall all the time on many different surfaces. Why pick on just one type of surface?

              Even Wayne Rooney can do it:

              link to youtube.com

              OMG, better tear up the pitch in Chelsea. It’s just not good enough.

              • Nate Dollars says:

                ‘OMG, better tear up the pitch in Chelsea. It’s just not good enough.’

                well, that would depend on whether it was a poor field that made rooney slip. sure, players will slip and fall, but when they’re frequently slipping in a world cup qualifier due to a poor field, then that needs to be addressed.

              • the unmistakeable Ronaldinho says:

                The field wasn’t in great shape. There is no denying that. It wasn’t a big issue during this game but on another night it could have been. Completely dismissing it is foolish. All I am saying is next time they need to do a better job of getting the sod ready for a world cup qualifier.

            • NeoGeek says:

              Both teams have to play on the same surface.

          • Gary Page says:

            Ives, thanks for stepping in with some sanity. Folks, don’t forget that the grass was also cut short and heavily watered before the game and that probably caused as much slipping as anything. I have seen several sod over turf games before and sod coming up when players do quick pivots is common in those situations. Based on what I have seen before, the pitch in Seattle was much better than other sod over turf games I have seen in the past. And considering how soccer players routinely play in terrible conditions in Europe, such as downpours in England, frozen fields in other areas, the field wasn’t that much of a problem.

      • Nate Dollars says:

        hi quakerotis, i watched the game, and there were problems. big pieces of the sod were coming up during the game. the announcer commented on it; i actually don’t know how you missed it.

        and while there are certainly worse fields in concacaf; my issues are (1) we don’t have the (dubious) excuse of ‘economic hardship’ that other countries use, and (2) ives made it seem like it wasn’t a problem because ‘U.S. players appeared to have far less trouble with it than Panama’.

        but i guess i’m just one of those jealous troIIs…

        • QuakerOtis says:

          It would appear so.

        • QuakerOtis says:

          And if by “big pieces of sod” you mean a “divit”, well, alert the presses, because that NEVER happens in professional sports. Not once on the hallowed EPL pitches I’m sure… :p

          • Nate Dollars says:

            unless they were directed to make it unplayable for tactical reasons, i’m pretty sure most epl groundskeepers would be in serious **** if their fields were like that on gameday.

            and again, i don’t think this was the worst field ever, i’m just saying that we need to do better. seattle’s a great place with outstanding support; hopefully they get a decent field next time.

            • bubbles says:

              They could do better by just using the perfectly fine synthetic turf that is normally there.

              Yeah, I already know you don’t like that answer, but so what?

        • QuakerOtis says:

          Lastly, before I go to lunch:

          Typical Nats fans. Great game, great atmosphere, great result, and here we are quibbling over grass. Anything to be negative. I was hoping the Cascadia atmosphere would be as close as we would come to English-type football fandom, but I guess that was wishful thinking.

          • Nate Dollars says:

            lol, if you don’t think ‘quibbling over gr@ss’, ‘anything to be negative’ ISN’T ‘English-type football fandom’, i don’t know where you’ve been the past couple of decades. : P

            • QuakerOtis says:

              Read the post again…

            • QuakerOtis says:

              “I was hoping the Cascadia atmosphere would be as close as we would come to English-type football fandom, but I guess that was wishful thinking.”

              • Nate Dollars says:

                ah. well i’m not sure what your point is then; the atmosphere was amazing–i noted that, and i don’t think anyone’s arguing that.

          • Scott says:

            If field conditions are “quibbling” then why spend the money to lay grass over turf? Personally, I wish that they had just played on the turf. Same amount of unhappiness either way, but less money out of pocket. I would add the common premise, Ives and others have, that “it wasn’t as bad as people said it would be”, is garbage. Especially with the ‘BPL field problems and Rooney slipped one time’ stuff. The difference is that they strive for the best field, not just “not as bad as people said that it would be”. Additionally, comparing other national teams playing on sod over turf to this is interesting. I usually only see that in friendlies, where they want a big stadium for the $$$. They accept smaller venues to play on grass when it counts.

      • Joe says:

        Nan, the rave green is Timbers green with envy;-) Great job showing up boys, just wish Portland had more size to make it two uncomfortable venues for WCQs.

        Oh well, we get the Gold Cup on 7/9 and maybe we can get a run out in the first rd of WCQs next cycle.

        Let’s go boys, bring it on home this Tuesday.

  17. David M says:

    Why is Northwest too far to fly, but California is okay?

    • Travis says:

      Its not, for players flying from Europe that is maybe a half hour to hour flight difference. Also it isn’t exactly like those players are slumming it in the middle seat back in coach. The flight time excuse is BS and needs to be retired

    • NeoGeek says:

      Seriously. I’m sure Panama wasn’t thrilled to have to fly all the way to Seattle to play.

  18. Good Jeremy says:

    Maybe I’m missing something obvious, but why not a soccer specific stadium in Seattle with real gr@ss? If they are averaging over 30K a game with the mediocre product they put out and their current ticket prices, a SSS would pay for itself pretty quickly. Then this silly turf discussion would die down and they could make a stadium specifically for the Sounders’ needs (real gr@ss, acoustics that point all crowd noise towards the field, seats smothering the endlines, green seats, and anything else to make it uniquely for soccer, no schedule deconfliction, and not renting out/sharing profits with the football team).

    • Travis says:

      short answer – $$$$$$$
      the taxpayers in Seattle aren’t going to foot the bill for a new stadium, they let the Sonics leave who had a lot more history cause they didn’t want to pay. if the owners want to pay for it thatd be great but I doubt that’ll happen, i don’t think most of the SSS that have been built were private funding.

    • Brian says:

      Gra$$ does not root well in the PNW because of the wet conditions. The field will be a mud pit during Spring and Fall months. Mud ball is fun but it doesn’t make for a good spectator game.

      • madvillain says:

        only partially true, the climate in seattle is very similiar to London, with slightly higher summer temps and slightly more rainfall on average.

        Although the damp, cloudy winter and spring in Seattle is not an ideal environment for the turf the issue is that the Seahawks and Paul Allen were supposed to put in sod at their expense but never did.

        The FieldTurf is easier to maintain (aka cheaper) so really it’s about being cheap. Allen should get more grief for it. It would have been 1.8 million to install a nice drainage and irrigation system for the turf, Allen cheaped out and wanted the city to pay for it. As they should, they declined.

        • AgentJ says:

          Installing a grass pitch now would take six to eight months, months that would displace either the Seahawks or Sounders. It would also require expensive grow lights, since the stadium roof blocks the sun for all but a few hours each day. And after all that, there’s no guarantee that the middle of the pitch wouldn’t be all torn up in March from the Seahawks games in January.

    • divers suck says:

      It’s very simple, when the vote came out for a new stadium (1998ish) Seahawk Stadium/Qwest/Century Link was intended to be a natural grass surface and when Paul Allen and his entourage thought it would get voted down, he in fact lobbied the soccer community for the “yes” vote by promising a natural grass surface. It barely got voted in because of the soccer vote. Afterwards, politics as usual, when the stadium was complete, plastic/rubber pelleted crap was installed instead.

  19. Brain Guy says:

    Couldn’t we settle the issue about the field by finding out what the players said after the game? The US players, not surprisingly, seemed to have no problem. Did anyone from the Panamanian team complain? They would have the most cause.

  20. J says:

    Another factor we’re ignoring: you bring in El Tri for an important game in Seattle in non-summer, you are asking for 1) weather making that temporary pitch more of an issue (not to mention the Seahawks resistance) and 2) sad to say, its less of a home game – we’ve got a BIG Mexican population.

    Its got to be the right opponent in the right month to work in Seattle. I waited since ’97 in Portland for another NW qualifier but we can’t bring Mexico to the Northwest. Columbus or, say, Green Bay Wisconsin!!!!!!! BTW, I miss watching the Dips @ RFK (yes, very old school).

    • beto says:

      so true! the temp pitch was good enough on that day but if it was raining or heavy PNW raining they probably would have had to cancel/postpone the game.

    • 206 Represent says:

      Here’s how to make sure CLink would draw a heavily pro-USA crowd vs. El Tri:
      1. Presale to American Outlaws and Sam’s Army, followed by
      2. Presale to Sounders season ticketholders.
      3. Reasonable ticket prices, not USSF price gouging.

      Done.

      Don’t schedule the game for three days after a Cascadia match that draws 50,000-plus at $15-$25 as part of a multi-game ticket package.

      Consider making the game part of season ticket and multi-game ticket packages. Work with the Sounders.

      With all that said, much as I’d love to see USA whoop El Tri in Seattle, I have to agree that Columbus keeps the Mexico game until USA loses there.

  21. 206 Represent says:

    I posted this in another thread, but it’s worth a re-post here. Seattle and London do NOT have similar weather.

    London has consistent rainfall throughout the year. Seattle has relatively dry summers. Fly over Seattle in July and you will see yellow/brown lawns. The vast majority of rain in Seattle falls during the (American) football season, and it comes down in torrents.

    Inches of rain by month

    SEA_____LDN
    3.41_Oct_2.79
    5.84_Nov_2.47
    5.43_Dec_2.09
    4.81_Jan_2.06

    The grass that grows naturally in Seattle is different from the kind of grass that grows in the midwest or on the east coast. The blades are much thinner.

  22. beto says:

    SBI great article. thanks for recognizing the away fans! there were SO many AO Chapters represented and if i can speak for a few of us we all had a GREAT time!

  23. Andrew says:

    I know RFK isn’t the best place, but something magical seems to happen when we play there. and this is coming from a union fan.

  24. Reed says:

    Thanks for the shout out to the Portland fans. I was one of them that made the trip, and I recognized a bunch of others during the national anthem.

  25. Soncho says:

    Travel time and expense are no longer an issue.. The atmosphere paid them back 10 fold.

    Turf is a four letter word but GTFO it

  26. Eli says:

    Interesting the mention of the large Portland fan base contingent as well as people from Alaska. I am originally from there and know quite a few people that make the trek down and now living in the Portland area, a ton came up. I was at the game in Portland years ago when Tab sent that rocket in as the winner over Costa Rica as well. Both times stood for the entirety and the games seemed to fly by. Putting the rivalries aside for a moment, I feel fortunate to live in the Northwest where every game is as exciting as this one was. Great to see Stu back on the field, albeit for a short cameo. Would like to see more of Joe Corona.

  27. Grunt says:

    Corona seemed nervous and/or overwhelmed, understandably perhaps. Hopefully, the Gold Cup gives him lots of minutes to settle in and put that behind him.

    In any case, great game and even better atmosphere. You clowns going on about the turf sound ridiculous. Simply put, it was an epic event, and griping about the turf is like complaining about the color of the carpet in Anne Hathaway’s bedroom.

    Locals and every US fan that traveled there should feel good for making it happen. It was great seeing other fans during the drive up and back to Portland, some with plates from beyond OR and WA. If I was a religious guy, I might compare it to a pilgrimage.

  28. Alexander Gago says:

    Great story you forgot to mention Denver Colorado Dicks Sporting Good Park.

  29. Aaron says:

    Was at the game, simply awesome. Thanks for my new monitor wallpaper Ives!