Sounders Evans and Johnson cherish playing for the USMNT in Seattle

wcup-panama-soccer

By JASON MITCHELL

SEATTLE – It was a special night here in many ways.

The U.S. Men’s National Team, surrounded by doubt as recently as mid-March, arrived riding a string of impressive results and almost casually dismissed Panama to seize first place in CONCACAF’s final round of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.

And it did so in front of more than 40,000 bouncing, chanting, almost deliriously joyful fans in a far-flung, soccer-loving corner of the country it hadn’t visited for a World Cup qualifier in almost 40 years.

Compelling stories abounded after a humming performance many quickly deemed the most impressive of the Jurgen Klinsmann era.

But perhaps none cherished the night more than Seattle Sounders Brad Evans and Eddie Johnson, donning their nation’s jersey and earning starts in the building that has done so much for each of their careers, before the fans that have given them each so much support.

“From warm-ups till thanking the crowd after the game, it was absolutely nuts,” said Evans, who started his second consecutive qualifier at right back for a team short a few healthy and rested defenders.

Evans, a utility player most naturally suited to central midfield, struggled at times in the first half to contain Panama’s speedy Alberto Quintero, but generally recovered well enough and in the end went 90 minutes in a shutout victory under the bright lights that is World Cup qualifying.

His contributions certainly aren’t going unnoticed by Klinsmann.

“I think Brad Evans…is making a very strong case for himself in our group, playing in that role,” Klinsmann said.

“I think the chemistry’s going well,” said Evans, snatched away from the Columbus Crew in the Sounders’ 2008 Expansion Draft. “I think we’re playing well as a unit. Most importantly, we’ve got each other’s backs. We respect each other enough to know that we’re going to make mistakes. It’s up to each other to kind of lift each other up and keep going when mistakes happen. I think that lies more in my case, not having played that position much. It’s a constant stream of information from the guys behind me, to the side, and even Eddie tonight gave me information.”

As if getting the start at CenturyLink Field weren’t enough, Johnson went ahead and scored a goal, putting the U.S. up 2-0 barely 10 minutes after the half, salting away victory, and unleashing a roar from the crowd that shook the building locals call the Clink from the temporary turf all the way up to the press box.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Johnson, who has rebooted his career since joining the Sounders before last season. “To play in the U.S. jersey, first of all, is an honor. But to wear it in front of the fans I play in front of week-in and week-out? I couldn’t have asked for a better feeling after that goal.”

“For him to turn it on in the second half,” said Evans, “and still have that energy and that pace, that endurance to get in behind and score that goal, was something special. And to do it in front of your home crowd, he’ll remember that one forever.”

“I’m just so happy for him,” Evans added. “He put in the work tonight, offensively and defensively. He helped me out so much.”

Of course, no small part of what made the night so special for the pair was simply the chance to show off their fans to their teammates.

“Everybody’s so impressed,”  said Evans, “and it’s really gratifying for them to be outspoken about it and say, ‘You guys have something special here.'”

“I’ve been telling the guys all week, ‘Wait till game day, watch how the fans are,'” added Johnson. “They got a taste of it in the Vancouver game [against the Sounders on Saturday], but that’s all the boys have been talking about after the game: the crowd and—not saying any names, but—how they’d love to play in Seattle one day. [They're] saying, ‘Eddie, you’re lucky to play in front of such great fans, with such great passion.’ They all say it’s a European atmosphere. So that’s good to hear, and to play here week-in, week-out, I’m grateful.”

This entry was posted in Featured, FIFA World Cup, MLS- Seattle Sounders, U.S. Men's National Team. Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Sounders Evans and Johnson cherish playing for the USMNT in Seattle

  1. Kevin_amold says:

    I’ll admit that I doubted to a degree the ability of Sounders fans to show the same degree of passion for the USMNT than they do for the Sounders. I left the game proven pretty dead wrong. It was a great experience, so glad I took it in.

    • Dan says:

      Yeah it was great, just wish they didn’t do a couple Sounders chants during the game though. It was USA not Sounders.

      Still great atmosphere and hopefully next time they open the complete stadium and it’s Mexico not Panama :)

      Evans and Johnson will be good depth for us in Brazil, doubt starters though if Donovan and Chandler are back.

      • Steevens says:

        If the players were ranting and raving about how awesome the Seattle fans are now, they won’t know what hit them when US Soccer brings them back here for games in the future with better scheduling (i.e. no MLB next door).

      • SteveE says:

        My only complaint about the Sounders chants were the fact that I kept screwing them up and thinking Sounders. Other than that, it is the Seattle flavor of USMNT, what do you expect? It is AO-Seattle

        • lassidawg says:

          Terrible Idea to do chants the whole crowd might be familiar with. The United…….. States chant was pretty cool as was the boom, boom , clap

      • Clyde Frog says:

        Sounders chants? I was there and I didn’t notice any Sounders chants.

        • realio says:

          people think that the chants they were doing were sounders chants because they have only heard them with sounders words. What they are failing to realize is EVERY supporters section uses the same chants with different words all across the planet. I think thats where the confusion was coming from.

          • bryan says:

            yeah, next we’ll hear how boca juniors stole the “dale dale” chant from DC United. lol

          • Clyde Frog says:

            And something tells me they would not have even tried Sounders chants with so many Timbers Army members in the AO section.

            • Knuckles says:

              AO Seattle made a conscious decision to try and appropriate chants used by both the Sounders AND the Timbers in order to maximize general crowd participation. They worked closely with both supporter groups in order to make that happen. I think it worked to great effect.

        • fan of football says:

          I think he is maybe refering to boom-boom-clap (followed by Sounders (USA), come on sounders (lets?) score a goal, etc. Typical songs from sounders games with a USA twist.

          I actually liked that. Sounders STH are familiar with those tunes, and could easily chime in. I think it helped to engage the whole stadium

  2. AH says:

    What a great atmosphere. I watch MLS on t.v. when I can, but make a point to watch anytime a game is going to be in Seattle or Portland for the atmosphere.

    Seattle is now officially on my bucket list for seeing a game in no particular order:

    -Seattle Sounders
    -Camp Nou
    -Anfield
    -La Bombonera
    -Azteca

    • Aaron says:

      No Santiago Bernabeu!? I go to every Sounders game and try to catch 2-3 Hawks games a year. There really is no other atmosphere that can match the Clink anywhere in the US.

  3. Steve says:

    I must have watched that clapping above the heads around the 70th minute like 5 times. Taylor Twellman was right, it was chilling.

    Ives, would love a dedicated post with highlights of the fans chanting if it could be put together.

  4. Soncho says:

    I must give it up to the Panama fans I ran in to … One group came all the way from NYC on a bus.

    • SD Atherly says:

      I ran into 5 guys who flew all the way up from Panama at the Mariners/Yankees game. They were wearing their team’s kits and draped in a flag. Infectiously enthusiastic. I also ran into a group of 6 who few in from LA after the match. They were STILL cheering their team. Best visiting fans since the Chivas Guadalajara friendly in Seattle.

  5. Travis says:

    Where is SanFran to eat crow for spending the days leading up to this calling out the Seattle crowd? Don’t think I’ve seen him in a single comments section.

    • SanFran415 says:

      Then you’re either blind or haven’t visited a lot of sections–either way you look foolish making a comment like that. And I stand by what I said.

      Seattle – Vancouver last weekend ~ 53,000

      USA – Panama – Capacity at 42,000 due to Mariners game ~ 41,000.

      No sell out. I never said people wouldn’t be energetic and passionate. I said they wouldn’t sell out the stadium despite packing Sounders games.

      Nice try though.

    • SanFran415 says:

      Then you’re either blind or haven’t visited a lot of sections–either way you look foolish making a comment like that. And I stand by what I said.

      Seattle – Vancouver last weekend ~ 53,000

      USA – Panama – Capacity at 42,000 due to Mariners game ~ 41,000.

      No sell out. I never said people wouldn’t be energetic and p@ssionate. I said they wouldn’t sell out the stadium despite packing Sounders games.

      Nice try though

      • Myles says:

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but weren’t only 42,000 tickets put on sale for last nights game, thus making it a sell out? If so, I think it’s pretty impressive for a Tuesday night against a non “world soccer power” opponent.

      • divers suck says:

        Nearly 41K is a fantastic turnout for a weeknight match with virtually zero advertisement or local media coverage. Yes, that part of it is the fault of Seattle, but the attendance basically coming from word of mouth “advertising” is indeed fantastic and proved to be a fantastic atmosphere along with a rare (truly) home field advantage for the NATS…

      • Travis says:

        Im not blind at all, I looked over 2-3 about the game and didn’t see anything from you. I just think you are a bitter person who refuses to admit when he is wrong. Tuesday night is a much different beast than Saturday night and Vancouver is a rivalry game so comparing the two is toug. Also Panama is a small minnow in CONCACAF. Last nights attendance put them at number 9 all time for a WCQ in the US. If you refuse to acknowledge that as a success then I don’t know what to say. They came in 1k short of their allotted cap. Give us a weekend game against a decent team without charging outrageous prices and we’d be pushing for a record.

      • Clyde Frog says:

        Nonetheless, this match had quite possibly the largest number of US supporters ever for a World Cup qualifier. The SLC game v Costa Rica at the college football stadium is the other one I can think of.

        If the Sounders can do even better than that, then that’s simply a credit to them, and perhaps an indictment of the very very high prices for last night’s game.

        • Knuckles says:

          Here’s a quick way for them to do better next time: give STH the opportunity to buy their seats before they go on sale to the general public. I guarantee, had that happened, the match would have been a sellout.

      • Soncho says:

        Do the math 415.. At CL the lower bowl and lower ring seating on the upper level come to around 40000..yes,.. there were patches of open seats. if at least half the seats on the upper level on the east side were occupied what does that number come to? the entire stadium holds 67K. 41K lol

  6. ozotkd says:

    I’m in LA, but my respect to the SEATTLE Fans & the American Outlaws, just AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!

  7. David says:

    Singing “We’re going to Brazil” after Eddie Johnson’s goal was brilliant. It looked and sounded awesome on TV.