Gettin’ my goal(s) on

Last night I found myself at Qwest Field to watch the pre-season exhibition game between the Seattle Sounders and the Colorado Rapids. I bypassed my normal pre-game visit to Fuel because I just can’t afford it these days, and I’m not drinking anyway lately, and it just seems wrong to be in a bar full of people who are drinking and singing when I’m not. I also avoided whatever there was of the pre-game march due to my knee still being messed up, and instead made a bee-line to Occidental in front of the field to wait for four friends to show up, which they did shortly after their individual battles with traffic.

After a quick meal of hot dogs from a street vendor – which I will discuss in slightly more depth later –  we went back to the main entrance, had our obligatory bag searching and general frisking, wandered past the Sound Wave performing on the front steps, and were eventually funneled into the eastern half of the stadium. I had hoped the entire stadium would be open, as I have only ever sat in the Brougham end, and wanted to try mid-field for a change, and down front. We did wind up mid-field, but because we hadn’t been able to get into the stadium until about 6.15, we had to sit in the 200 level. This turned out to be pretty ace, but more on that also later.

We finally found seats that were comfortable enough for not only me and my knee issues, but for my very-pregnant friend Nicole. The  guys went for beer, and the girls stayed put, taking in the surroundings and chatting about possible lineups, their season seats, and other general things. Meanwhile, a smaller more compact version of the ECS was setting up in their section:

The rest of the crew came in a few minutes after I took this picture. I don’t know if a proper march was done with their smaller numbers or not, but when they come into Qwest, everyone is well aware of it, regardless of how large or small their numbers. You can sort of hear my friend Cynthia singing over the top of them, next to me.

The players continued their warmups on the field…

And eventually it was time for everything to start. Sounders flags and the US flag were brought out onto the field by carriers, along with the red carpets rolled out for both teams and their diminutive child counterparts, and the entire stadium welcomed them. First very slowly, with a noise far more than what might have been expected of the 7300+ people in attendance. One thing we do have working for us as fans in Qwest Field is the field’s acoustics. The routine started very slowly. I’ve taken part in it before, but it seemed that last night’s was far more dramatic than previous games. The whole scene gave me a case of the chills, but it eventually wound itself up to this:

Then the final crescendo of cheering and clapping, leading to the National Anthem, and then the game, kickoff occurring amid an amped-up crowd, wit the strains of “In Seattle” coming from the Brougham end of the stadium.

The game was great, but would have been better if it had not been for the continued diving of the Rapids players, and the continued siding with said diving on the part of the referees. Despite the best efforts of both parties to hamper us, the Sounders beat the Rapids 3-1, and two of those goals were scored by Fredy Montero, who was, naturally, named the Man of the Match as the game was ending. About 20 minutes or so before the end of the second half, it started just pouring down rain. Initially, it looked like a really heavy mist, but it quickly became apparent that there was so much more water falling than that:

This is why I was so very content with our seat location – I had wanted to sit down front, but our 4th row seats in the 200 level put us just close enough to the game and just out of the way of what turned out to be a near-torrential downpour. Success!

A damp Kasey Keller, watching his team move the ball away from his box after a save:

An unidentified (and unidentifiable, to me at the moment) Sounder takes a penalty kick late in the game.

So to sum up, the game was fun, I stayed dry and was able to sit down (though I truly wanted to be standing), and the Sounders won, which is a bit of a detour from normal outcomes when I go to games. Usually, the game crops up with a draw. I understand that it’s 90 minutes and stoppage and that’s it, but I live in the world of baseball, where a win is a win, and extra innings are a way of life. I have no issue with a draw, but a win is far more satisfying in general. It was a really enjoyable night.

To go back to the hot dog thing for a second or two…I have spent most of my life avoiding fast food and trying to be as healthy as possible. The occasional backyard barbecue sneaks in, but hey, who doesn’t love a good party with lots of food? But in recent years, I have had to come to one undeniable, absolute truth; I love hot dogs. I love them in all their junk food glory, with all the imaginable toppings and accoutrement they are normally (and abnormally) accompanied by. And last night, I had what I would consider to be one of the best hot dogs I’ve ever tasted in my near-40 years. Joe’s Grilled Dogs is a small yellow street tent that competes for public attention and monies on the west side of Occidental during games and events in that area. Because of my small lunch yesterday, I was badly in need of food by the time I got to the stadium, and I got it – in the form of a $6 1/2lb beef hot dog on a bun a little too small for it, topped with lightly grilled onions (carmelized, yet still crunchy!) and choice of two different mustards, ketchup, and a variety of hot sauce. I have never even seen a 1/2lb hot dog, but I certainly hope to again. It looks like this place boils or steams their dogs, then tosses them on a grill to order, getting a little char on the dog before it’s tossed in a bun and has the onions thrown on top. What a brilliant find! I used to think the Cloverdale Major League Mariner Dog was the best, but now I’m not so sure. SafeCo definitely has some competition. An option for Opening Day.

Speaking of Opening Day, I just put in for my tickets today, and have already paid off the balance for my game plan (I may have mentioned before), so baseball is ON. April cannot come soon enough!

Back to our regularly-scheduled Mariners talk tomorrow.

EDIT: According to my friend Cynthia, the “unidentified” Sounder is actually Osvaldo Alonso.

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