Posts Tagged ‘ Seattle Sounders ’

Seattle Sounders Change Shirt 2013 and 2014

The Seattle Sounders entered their fifth season looking to reach MLS Cup after falling just short the previous season. Sigi Schmid was still at the helm and the roster received a little bit of a shake up with star forward Fredy Montero going out on loan to Sporting Club de Portugal and an influx of several new players. DeAndre Yedlin, Lamar Neagle, Shalrie Joseph, and Obafemi Martins joined the team ahead of the season, with US international Clint Dempsey signed in August.

The Sounders finished fourth in the Western Conference for the 2013 campaign, just one point above the red line. Poor performances bookended their season, as Seattle picked up only two points from the opening five matches and the closed the season with three draws and four losses. On the plus side, CenturyLink Field was a fortress as the team won ten, drew five and only lost twice at home. Seattle beat Colorado Rapids in the 4/5 play in game to set up a match with Cascadia rivals and #1 seed Portland Timbers. A 2-1 home loss was followed by a 3-2 loss at Jeld-Wen and the Sounders were out of the playoffs again.

Seattle did not find success in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, losing at the first hurdle away to Tampa Bay 1-0. A Cascadia Cup triumph eluded the Sounders as well as they finished third with Vancouver Whitecaps claiming the trophy.

Eddie Johnson led the team with 12 goals in all competitions and Mauro Rosales chipped in with eight assists. Michael Gspurning had 11 clean sheets in 33 appearances. In terms of appearances, the Sounders usually lined up as follows:

1          GK      Gspurning

2          RB       Yedlin

34        CB       Hurtado

19        CB       Traoré

12        LB       González

6          DM      Alonso

10        RM      Rosales

3          AM      Evans

27        LM      Neagle

7          SS        Johnson

9          CF       Martins

 

(image courtesy of Colours of Football)

Seattle’s official colors are Sounder Blue, Rave Green, and Cascade Shale and adidas introduced a Cascade Shale away shirt in 2011. Seeing the shirt in an official Sounder store during my trip to Seattle, I was intrigued by the design, with the Cascade Shale base trimmed in Rave Green and highlighted by the silver Powerweb bands which was a feature of adidas’ Techfit kits at the time.

(image courtesy of Colours of Football)

For the 2013 season, adidas used the same Cascade Shale background and Rave Green was used for the adidas branding on shirt and shorts and to outline the chest. The key design feature was a vertical two tone bar of Sounder Blue and Rave Green. Per the club’s official release:

The secondary kit continues in cascade shale with the addition of a two inch vertical stripe which connects team colors through a mosaic design to emphasize the team’s unique and diverse fan base.

One thing that Seattle Sounders blog Sounders at Heart mentioned was  

this feature is vastly different in the “replica” kits being sold through the team store; only green is present in those versions.

Images on the internet were inconclusive, plus I couldn’t find it on Classic Football Shirts or even on eBay. Is that weird? Anyway, I really like this look and saw a fan wearing the shirt at the Terminus Legion MLS Cup 2016 Watch Party. I complimented him on his jersey,  and I’m hoping the club return to this color scheme in the near future, staying away from Super Cyan, Electric Yellow and Pacific Blue.

What do you think of the shirt? What are your favorite MLS shirts of all time? Let me know if the comments below.

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Check out more posts on kits from clubs and countries around the world on the Strip Club page. And yes. It’s safe for work.

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Scarf Collection

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I’ve become a groundhopper, not to the extent of Paul Gerald or Peter Miles or Tony Incenzo, but I take pics, talk to people and write posts about teams, supporters and venues in the United States. But what about swag? As a big kit nerd, the obvious choice would be to get a shirt at each match, but that strategy has a couple of problems: 1) not every team has a merch store or even jerseys for sale; 2) at $55 to $100 a pop, a one stop/one shirt policy could get pricey; and 3) where would I put them all? I don’t have a mancave (yet) and as much as I would love to wear a different jersey every day, society and my workplace frown upon that.

So my solution has been to pick up a scarf at each game I attend. This strategy has paid off in several ways. Scarves are almost always available at games, and if not, readily available on club websites. Plus at $25 to $35 each, this is the better option financially. On top of that, scarves are packable and easy to display.

Here is my current collection:

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Favorite Teams

Manchester United–The club team I have been supporting for 20 years. One day I will make it to Old Trafford. C’mon you Reds!!

US Soccer–I have seen several US games over the years , and I continuing to engage my own country instead of wishing I was Croatian or Dutch or almost anything else.

Atlanta United–MLS club kicking off in 2017. I’m a season ticket holder and can’t wait for the team to launch and play their first game at Mercedes Benz Stadium.

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Groundhops

Seattle Sounders–One of my first trips and had an awesome time.

Chicago Fire–Used to watch them at Soldier Field. Saw the new home out in the middle of nowhere.

Portland TimbersStood with Timbers Army in a very unique environment.

Columbus CrewSaw one of the first games at this Soccer Specific Stadium and have been several times since.

FC DallasAnother facility out in the middle of nowhere but Dallas Beer Guardians more than made up for it.

DC UnitedGot to see DC United at RFK before they move to the new ground.

Houston DynamoAmazing venue and hopefully the team returns it past glory.

Atlanta Silverbacks–Former NASL team playing in NPSL, I have been to many games and worked for the Reserves team.

Charleston Battery–Fantastic USL team with great supporters playing an intimate venue filled with soccer memorabilia.

Lansing United–The club launched the summer before I left Lansing and is doing things right on and off the pitch.

Detroit City FC–My first taste of real supporter culture. It has been wonderful keeping an eye on this team from the first days.

Nashville FC–Vanderbilt Stadium wasn’t the greatest venue but wonderful fans.

Chattanooga FC–Love going up to Chattanooga. Real passion behind a successful NPSL club.

Birmingham Hammers–Met some fired up supporters for the Hammers’ first season. Looking forward to going back.

Georgia Revolution–Under new ownership, this club is providing players a stepping stone to next level.

Knoxville Force (Scruffy City Syndicate)–Growing club with ardent supporters, playing right in downtown Knoxville.

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Miscellaneous

Juventus–Fell in love with Alessandro Del Piero and followed the bianconeri until I decided to focus my soccer supporting efforts.

MSU Spartans–Went to many a game at DeMartin Stadium during my time in Lansing.

World Cup 2022–My wife won this in a raffle. It’s the scarf from the US 2022 World Cup bid.

American Outlaws Atlanta. I love hanging out with these passionate supporters of US Soccer.

Terminus Legion 2015–Joined this Supporter Group at the intersection of Atlanta and Soccer in 2015 after moving to Atlanta in 2014.

Terminus Legion 2016–Re-upped and run the soccer team and host the Terminus Legion podcast.

The General–Special edition summer scarf produced by Terminus Legion to celebrate the history of Atlanta.

Soccer in the Streets–An amazing organization that brings soccer to underserved youth in Atlanta. Just launched Station Soccer, a pitch on top of a transit station.

Castleberry Hill AC–An organization looking to use soccer to improve their community. Currently trying to build Old Trenholm in the shadow of Mercedes Benz Stadium.

 

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Top three scarves I have come across. . .

fire-scarf

I usually buy the team scarf at each match but when I was at the Chicago Fire tailgate, I saw people walking around this scarf and knew that I had to have it. The scarf tweaks the Chicago city flag, using navy blue bands to frame the edges instead of the sky blue and then uses the four red stars through the middle. Great looking piece.

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While standing with Timbers Army, I spotted a Battlestar Portlandia. Having just come out of my Battlestar Galactica geek phase, I really loved the merging of pop culture and sport. Doubt I will ever get my hands but one of these but a really slick design.

dcfc-scarf

A scarf from Detroit City FC’s inaugural season is one of my favorite scarves. All the design elements come together, with of color scheme of rouge and dark yellow, a clean font and the argyle print adding a wonderful touch. DCFC has absolutely crushed it from a brand and merch perspective from day one.

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If you want to see a real scarf collection, visit Kenny’s Football Scarves. He has over 2000 pieces organized by league and region.

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Read more about my groundhops and supporter group interactions at the SoccerNomad blog. Also check out the SoccerNomad podcast, which focuses on Supporter Groups and kit design. Finally follow me on twitter @austinlong1974.

Sounders FC: Authentic Masterpiece

sounders fc masterpiece

Sounders FC: Authentic Masterpiece, Mike Gastineau

Ahead of the kickoff of Atlanta United, I checked out this book and I’m so glad I did. Gastineau does a wonderful job taking the key movers and shakers and weaving their stories together. From supporters to players to media to management to ownership, he provides context for the evolution of the team from the old NASL to the kickoff of the first game in 2009.

Beyond that he analyses the importance of a balanced and effective management team with a shared vision towards a goal and the tricky concept of team dynamics, which are dependent on the attitude of the stars and presence and contribution of “glue guys”. As with every success story there is a lot of hard work and desire combined with some luck and fortuitous timing, and Gastineau reflects on all of these.

A fascinating and informative read, well worth picking up.

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For a full list of my book reviews, please visit the Recommended Reading page. And reach out to me with your suggestions as well.

Seattle Sounders Season Preview

Note: Ahead of the 2015 MLS season, I contacted fans and bloggers to learn more about some of the teams. You can find the podcasts here. For the Seattle Sounders, Greg and I recorded this podcast by phone but the audio quality was poor. (Totally my fault.) We had a such a good conversation that I wanted to share it, so here is the transcription of our conversation. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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Austin: Greg Mockos, one of the Presidents of Seattle Sounders Supporters Group Emerald City Supporters is on tonight to talk about the upcoming campaign for the Sounders.

The Sounders are the defending Supporters Shield champs but lost an agonizing series to eventual champ LA Galaxy last year. What were your impressions/thoughts on last season?

supporters shield

GregThought that last season was a very successful season. I think that any fan, Sounders or not, would have to agree with that. Obviously the club is an ambitious club so they’re always going to feel like they fell short. The last two or three years, the mantra in the club has always been, and this is from the top down, to get to MLS Cup. This is year is the same, and you’re already starting to hear that because the Sounders are in the CONCACAF Champions League, there are ambitions on a more global scale, which is to win the CONCACAF Champions League and progress to the Club World Cup.

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So last season was a successful season but it was a pity not to win the Cascadia Cup. We lost that due to a poor result at home against Vancouver. That would have made the season a little sweeter but otherwise, from a supporters standpoint, the emotion in the stands when we beat LA 2-0 at home to win the Supporters Shield was definitely one of the highlights of supporting the Sounders.

The last two games at the end of the year were amazing. The Supporters Shield was a nice reward, and the Sounders also won the US Open Cup and just fell short for the Treble. I will be interested to see how they compete in the Champions League later this year.

The Champions League can be a frustrating league. The games can be frustrating to watch because there are different standards for pitches and refereeing.  However I think it’s exciting.  I have not had a chance to travel to Central America for it but I plan to do so this time around. It’s similar to Europe, what clubs go through during the season, especially prestigious clubs, and emulating that in our region is something that I find interesting.

As you alluded to the club is ambitious and has not stayed still this offseason. What are your thoughts on the changes in the squad thus far?

My thoughts primarily focus not on players because there hasn’t been a lot of changeover. I really like the acquisition of Garth Lagerway from Real Salt Lake and his ambition to increase the scope and breadth of our team.

S2 is obviously a great addition. It used to be we would get draft picks in and if they didn’t make it in the first couple of weeks of preseason they would fall off the edge of the earth, whereas here you are allowed to keep tabs on them and follow their development. It also allows the team to sign players that already know before they come in the door that they are borderline but they have potential.

ECS has a group of supporters and has invested financially in S2, which is a first in the United States. So we have a stake, not as great as the multi-million dollar owners of the league, and we’ll be supporting them fully. A lot of members have been down there at their first training events, scouting out future stars of the Sounders and MLS.

roldan

Back to your point about players, I’m pretty excited to see Christian Roldan and how he develops into a player at MLS level. We have also had glimmers of hope for Kévin Parsemain, the Martinique international, and he seems to be a pretty decent finisher. We are a very deep team so a lot of these young players have a mountain to climb but at the end of the day we are an old team when compared to a lot of other MLS teams. There’s going to have to be some replacement in the next cycle and Garth’s strategy is widening the club’s presence and expand that down to the lower levels with S2 and the Academy system, and I think it’s going to make the presence in the player world that much bigger. The Sounders are popular already in terms of fan base and following in the United States but I feel like our connections in the player network in North, Central and South America are expanding greatly. From that we can reap greater benefits in the future.

You mentioned that you have a deep team, so do you see much change in the starting lineup? I have heard a little bit about Brad Evans maybe changing his role or is there anything that has come to light?

Tyrone Mears is going to be a consistent performer and he’s an excellent replacement for DeAndre Yedlin. Yedlin sometimes had extremely good matches but I think you’ll see more consistency with Mears, as he’s probably less adventurous and attacking than Yedlin. For center back, I would like to see a pure center back brought in this off season. Brad Evans is a versatile player, he’s a good communicator, he’s got a physical presence and he’s a good passer of the ball, but he wouldn’t be my first option at center back. Otherwise I don’t see a whole lot of changes in the lineup. One concern is  Osvaldo Alonso and his recovery from surgery.

If you’ve been watching MLS, you’ll know that accruing points at the beginning of the season is not crucial to winning silverware at the end of the season. It’s more crucial to pick up your game at the later stage of the season and I think we’re well suited for that.

Speaking of the schedule, when I looked at the slate of the games for the Sounders, there are two long stretches away from home, one in May and one in September. Then the team closes the season away to Vancouver, away to SKC, home against the Galaxy, away to Houston and home to RSL.  What are your thoughts on the schedule as a whole and what are the matches you are looking forward to?

The transition of Sporting Kansas City and the Houston Dynamo to the Western Conference is going to make it very formidable. Also Chivas USA was removed and we collected a lot of points from them so we’ll have to make those up somewhere else. I like the schedule. It’s better than years past. There are some afternoon games and I prefer night games but that’s a small complaint.

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Games I’m forward to are obviously Cascadia Cup games. Those are the ones that thrill me the most. Due to our history with LA Galaxy, any game against them is going to be a thrilling match. Plus with the talent coming into the league, the Galaxy have added Steven Gerrard in the middle and to see him against Martins and Dempsey and others is going to be an exciting event.

So Seattle has been a successful team since joining the league in 2009.  How do you see the season going and where do you see the Sounders finishing this season?

My minimum expectation is to be Supporters Shield contenders and MLS Cup contenders. In 2009 I recall doing similar interviews prior to our first game on March 19 against the New York Red Bulls and then we were just happy to be there but now that we have made the playoffs ever year of our existence, the expectation is higher. We are at a point where there hasn’t been much of a shuffle in the team, we have a good core, the locker room is solid, so it’s only going to get better this year. I fully expect us to be challenging for the Supporters Shield with Los Angeles and Kansas City and from the East, DC United, and many people will doubt them, but I still think the Red Bulls are going to have another decent run.

As a fan I value the Supporters Shield greatly and I find I very satisfying that a supporter created, supporter driven and supporter maintained competition has gained such prestige and the fact that it gains you access into the CCL, I’m quite appreciative as supporter and as a member of supporters group that has contributed to this

So one question I have been asking guests during this series is, if you were GM/Sporting Director/King of the World, what would change about the club?

I feel sometimes that we are spoiled here. We have a very ambitious club that wants to do nothing but the best. I guess the one thing I would like to see more is for Seattle to establish itself very strongly as a global brand. Their ambitions are global and I think establishing themselves outside the Pacific Northwest is something I would look into.

Also, you often hear in the American soccer conversation a discussion about children and youth soccer, but I think there’s a huge wealth of adult amateur players in Washington State and the United States that are ready to spend their dollars on the Sounders and supporting them. Here in Seattle, the leagues are vibrant, every field is packed with players every day of the week and I think that’s a huge fan base that can be tapped into a little bit better.

From a soccer perspective I would really love to see S2 evolve and grow and hopefully maybe a S3 and S4 and creating the depth of a system. It’s only going to create more competition in the club which is only going to result in better players. The interesting side effect of that may be the diminishment of the college game in the United States. I think a lot of players are going to prefer the professional environment of a professional soccer team that plays year round in a competitive league rather than a shorter season in the college game. I would like to see every MLS team completely integrated vertically all the way from the youth teams to the first team.

ecs logo

You’re heavily evolved in Emerald City Supporters, so talk about what the group does and how people can find you.

ECS is the largest independent supporters group for the Seattle Sounders. We were founded in 2005 so this season is our ten year anniversary. This is an important landmark for the supporters group, because many times supporter groups are volatile organizations that come and go, so to reach ten years is significant. This year our membership kit will be the Decade of Dominance and this is an allusion to a tifo displayed against the Portland Timbers and our dominance over our rivals to the South.

decade of dominance

You can join the Emerald City Supporters at https://www.weareecs.com/ and click on the join tab. Our membership kit is $30 and this year’s membership comes with a booklet about our history, a lightweight summer scarf, a traditional knitted scarf, and a membership card that gets you discounts at all of our partner bars.

Follow us on twitter @WeAreECS and like us on facebook. Feel free to come out if you are the Seattle area or you can find our sub groups that are regionally based around the United States and the world on our website underneath the sub groups section. Join them on our away travel or at a local viewing place.

I want to thank you for coming on. I was out in Seattle a couple of summers ago and met you guys at Fuel, and did the march to the match and stood with you with at the match and I had a great time. You guys were awesome and I love seeing you guys on TV and seeing what you come up with. And beyond the soccer, the leagues that you are working to develop and the work in the community are all great things and I love watching you guys grow. Thanks again and we’ll talk to you later.

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As a reminder you can find me on twitter @austinlong1974 and you can get more podcasts at http://austinlong1974.podomatic.com/ or subscribe through iTunes by searching SoccerNomad. Also look around the this blog for recent posts on kits, memories and more.

MatchDay Memory–What I This Summer 2012

This summer was one of the hottest on record for the state of Michigan.  Weeks of 90+ degree heat scorched the ground and caused air conditioning units to be run non stop.  Fortunately there was plenty of footy on TV so that people could stay inside or head to their local pub or restaurant and watch in order to stay cool.  Euro 2012 led into the MLS halfway point and the World Football Challenge before concluding with the Olympics Football Tournament.

In an ambitious effort to get involved with the European Championships, I followed the draw, game by game, to determine which kit would win Euro 2012 based on my tastes.  Here is a summary of my predictions and my reactions to the kits worn during the tournament.  As for the games themselves, the entire three week championship was highly entertaining, producing plenty of goals (only one 0-0 draw in the entire tournament if I remember correctly), amazing performances (Russia in their opener, England against Sweden, and Italy against Germany in the semis), and a historic final in which La Furia Roja became the first team to win three major tournaments in a row.  I was able to watch the match at the George and Dragon in Seattle and had an awesome time.  Found an interesting post in the aftermatch of the Final, with Michael Elkon writing an interesting piece for SB Nation Atlanta about ESPN’s coverage of the European Championships, going so far as to ask Bristol to cover American College Football like a major soccer tournament.  Well worth the read.

I had an amazing trip to the Pacific Northwest. First real vacation I can think of since the 2003 Manchester United Tour and certainly the most relaxing.  Everyone asked did you see the mountains?  I saw them, off in the distance, but wanted no part of a hike.  Got up each morning, watched a little TV (Tosh.0, Workaholics, Wimbledon) and then spent some time writing and researching for the blog.  After a bite to eat, did some reading and then went out and either watched a game or went to a bunch of bars or both.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  My experiences at the MLS games in Portland and Seattle were first rate and I plan to either go back or visit other MLS venues (or both) in the future.

However, after some time of reflection, I am not sure that I could sit in the supporters sections every game.  I like to watch and see what’s going on, figuring out formations, key matchups, build ups for goals.  That’s hard to do when you’re trying to keep up with the chants or waving your scarf and or having flags obstructing your view.  For instance, during the Seattle game, banners and flags blocked portions of my view throughout the game, and when Colorado scored, no one had any idea.  Great atmosphere, great experience, but maybe sit in the supporters section and then go home and watch the match for the tactics and nerdier aspects of the game.

As for my actual time on the pitch, I played in a coed indoor league, which was ridiculously hot.  Our over 30 team had an unbeaten first half of the season, destroying teams consistently, but we drew one game and didn’t create the necessary breathing space to win the league comfortably.  We participated again the State Cup, but our first game was scheduled the weekend after the Fourth of July, so many of our players, including myself, were on vacation.  The other guy who runs the team was able to put a team together and the lads performed admirably until the wheels fell off in the second half and we lost 4-1.  Maybe next year.

Other than that, I listened to a ton of podcasts, which I tried to summarize throughout the summer, and read as much as I could.  I reread Fever Pitch in the late spring and then moved to Calcio by John Foot. It was a very informative read on the beginnings of organized Italian football and the transition of power from Bologna and Genoa to the big three.  I didn’t realize Roman teams had not been very successful.  The author went out to pick out key players throughout the history of the league before moving to the violence that has been a nagging problem over the years.  He also examined the nature of oriundi in Italian clubs and the national team.

The new season has started, with several compelling story lines across Europe—the battle in Manchester, the dawn of the Tito era in Barcelona, Juventus’ resurgence undercut by another betting scandal, and the possible rise of PSG.  I plan to do my weekly Morbo Minute and Old Futbol Buffet posts, combined with Strip Club posts and the occasional MatchDay Memory.  Feel free to comment and respond on twitter and facebook.

Old Futbol Buffet–We are the Blue, We are the Green

Before my first Seattle Sounders game, we met some of the Emerald City Supporters at Fuel. While drinking a point of Emerald City Amber, we were able to watch some fan videos on the big screen that showcased the passion and excitement of the fans. I also got a chance to meet ECS Co-President Greg Mockos (fellow Juventino). In the June ECS newsletter, Greg revisited the transition of the supporters from the USL to the MLS. Very informative and a great insight into the formation of major soccer support. After that we headed over to the park for the march to the field, which was pretty cool, as hundreds of fans sang and cheered in unison to CenturyLink Field, or as the ECS would say Royal Brougham Park. The stadium is amazing, with clean sight lines plus a stunning view of downtown above the northern end.

At the stadium, Greg hooked us up and got my cousin and me into the ECS section at the Brougham End (our original tickets were at the opposite part of the complex) and the supporters provide song cards to new fans so that they can fully participate in the experience. Simple but awesome idea. Before kickoff they unveiled a special tifo for Zach Morris Scott, who has played for the club for 10 years. Worth checking out. During the match, several different flags made an appearance, along with all kinds of scarves. I really liked the argyle version of the Brougham End as well as the alternating black and green scarf for 2012 season ticket holders. Finally a special shoutout to the “cheerleader” for our section. The guy never stopped cheering, encouraging and motivating. Really cool experience.

Seattle started the match quickly, with crisp passing and active movement. Rosales was a withdrawn forward and constantly found dangerous space. Osvaldo Alonso (#6) ran his socks off and had a great game. Along with Andy Rose (#25), I thought these two were a great paring, creating a solid foundation for the Sounders, breaking up the opposition and starting attacks. Unfortunately the Sounders’ finishing was poor and they did not take advantage of numerous chances. As Arlo White (@ArloWhite) tweeted during the match: Enjoyable half. #sounders dominated early. Colorado working way into game. Casey a constant threat. Its intense. With both teams in some sort of variation of a 4-5-1 (mlssoccer.com had the Rapids in a 4-1-4-1), the game became a midfield slugfest.

Midfielder Alvaro Fernandez turned the tide of the match in the second half, heading in a Rosales corner. From there Seattle upped the pressure and were rewarded soon after. There was a possible penalty decision as Johnson was taken down in the box. The incident happened right in front of us in the Brougham End and it was a tight call, but Johnson made absolutely sure on his next chance, as Rosales whipped in another fantastic ball for the American to head home after a breakdown in the Colorado transition. Fernandez then had a chance to make it 3-0 but took too long and allowed a Rapids defender to recover.

With about ten minutes to go, Colorado scored a very tidy goal (Zapata to Cummings) to set up a crazy and exciting finish. First, Steve Zakuani returned to action after his injury last year. The crowd went absolutely nuts on his entrance into the match. Then the Rapids had a possible equalizer ruled out for offside before Rivero fired just over the crossbar when he had the goal at this mercy.

Seattle got three vital points and are now third in the Western Conference, with Colorado falling back into the pack in the bottom half of the table. Full highlights and game report here.

What a week. Two entertaining games, two memorable fan experiences. Back to work (and sweltering hot temperatures) but full of excitement and memories.