So I realize I'm arriving a little late to the hoopla. But hey, I've been busy. Only last night did I get a chance to catch a Sounders FC game in its entirety. And I gotta say...
As devoted readers of my occasional column are aware, I expressed some skepticism last July when the then-extant P-I proclaimed a "soccer boom" in Seattle such as hadn't been seen in 30 years. The author of the piece claimed, among other things, that bars all over town were showing soccer to enthusiastic viewers. I took some issue with that assertion (and several others).
Indeed, many months later, when I tried to find a bar in Seattle in which to watch the Sounders' opening match against New York, I traipsed around a half-dozen places on Capitol Hill without success. Heading back to Queen Anne, I stopped by the Sport Restaurant across from the Space Needle thinking surely at least one of the 50 TV screens in that place would be showing the game. Nope. (Obviously it didn't help that this was the first night of March Madness. Sport now advertises a Seattle Sounders Soccer Special on its home page.)
Finally, at The Spectator on Lower Queen Anne, I managed to catch the second half of the match, and it was exactly what I recalled of Major League Soccer: a lot of kicking and running around to little purpose, the ball wildly up in the air half the time, careening out of bounds the rest of the time, no rhythm to the game, etc. The guy sitting alongside me at The Spectator--without a word of prompting from me--basically echoed my column: "It's fine," he said, "but it's nothing like the English."
Last night's match, however, was a different story. Two wonderfully even teams playing a precision passing game. Beautiful traps and touches. Both sides at each other nonstop, with a great rhythm established by each. Yeah, there were mistakes. Former hero Fredy Montero literally could do no right. There were defensive screwups and numerous failures to finish by the Sounders' offensive. They should have won. But I don't happen to care who wins or loses. I just like to watch some great playing, and on that score, last night's game totally delivered.
So, yes, that line I wrote about MLS games being "boring" and full of washed-up foreign players is hereby withdrawn. The Sounders may have lost two-in-a-row now. But surely they will be thrilled to have achieved something far more gratifying: a grovelling retraction from me.
Sounders 'til I die!