Sports

Sidelines: This football fan had a great time watching a soccer game

I went to my first-ever Seattle Sounders FC game Tuesday night at Qwest Field. I saw the Sounders win their second straight U.S. Open Cup championship with a 2-1 victory over the Columbus Crew in front of a record crowd of 31,311.

“It feels great. It feels tremendous. An amazing night,” Sounders FC owner/general manager Adrian Hanauer said. “The weather, the fans, just the atmosphere and then to get the win … it’s a great feeling.”

Hanauer was right. It was an amazing night, even for a non-soccer fan like me.

Midfielder Sanna Nyassi scored both goals to become the first player in modern history to score multiple goals in the Cup final, capped by a 66th minute goal to finish off the come-from-behind victory.

As the team celebrated on Qwest Field and raised the Open Cup trophy again, most of the fans in attendance stayed for a trophy presentation and celebrated with the team, including me.

“The fans were fantastic,” said head coach Sigi Schmid. “That’s the loudest I’ve heard this place. A lot of times you see celebrations at the end of the game where the stadium is half empty. Everyone was there for the cup presentation. I can’t say enough about our fans. They’re just fantastic.”

And that’s exactly what I took away from my inaugural voyage with the Sounders. Soccer fans in Seattle are very passionate and watching a Sounders game live is a really fun experience.

But is it as fun as watching the Seahawks play at Qwest Field? Not even close — for me.

That isn’t a knock against soccer at all. I would much rather watch a Sounders game than, say, a Seattle Mariners game. But that isn’t saying much, because I would rather watch Snooki from the “Jersey Shore” answer questions on “Jeopardy” than the 2010 Mariners.

Football is king in America. That’s why the NFL is a multi-billion dollar business and why the football programs at big-time colleges fund the entire athletic department.

But it seems like some “hardcore” soccer fans, some of whom I ran into Tuesday night at Qwest Field, are afraid to accept the fact that a vast majority of Americans don’t understand the allure of soccer.

I’m obviously generalizing here, but these soccer fans seem to have an us-against-the-world mentality.

Look, I love baseball. I played in college. But I don’t get offended if somebody tells me that baseball is boring. I don’t accuse them of not knowing the intricacies of the sport.

I don’t snicker under my breath because they don’t understand why a manager puts on the hit-and-run or brings in a left-handed pitcher to face a left-handed hitter. I know baseball is boring to watch. All my kids play soccer and I would much rather sit through a soccer game than seven innings of baseball.

It’s almost like “soccer fan” can’t comprehend how somebody doesn’t eat, sleep and breathe the sport.

Obviously, I don’t fully understand the ins and outs of soccer, as well as the athletic rigors of the sport. I do appreciate the speed, endurance and intensity necessary to play soccer. But I also appreciate the speed, endurance and intensity of the Tour de France.

However, I’m not going to spend all day Saturday and Sunday watching Spandexed bike riders climbing hills in Europe, like I do during the fall with college and NFL football. Just like I’m not going to spend all day watching soccer (other than my kids).

Another reason why I’m also not a bigger fan of soccer is because I’m a front-runner, pure and simple. Like most Americans, it bugs me that we aren’t one of the best soccer countries in the world. We are the best at every other (important) sport known to man, except soccer.

Why is that? The answer is pretty simple — the best athletes are not playing soccer past the age of 12 in the United States. Is there any question that we would win the World Cup if guys like LeBron James, Adrian Peterson, Derek Jeter or Kobe Bryant played soccer? Not in my mind.

In soccer-rich countries like England, Spain and Brazil, all the best athletes are steered onto the soccer field. Here, they play football, basketball and baseball.

So, for now, I will continue to stick my toe in the proverbial soccer water. After Tuesday night’s great experience watching the Sounders win the U.S. Open Cup at Qwest Field, I am turning into a little bit of a soccer fan.

Who knows, I might even have a David Beckham-esque “faux hawk” for my next Sounders' game.

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