My father will be in surgery from Thursday morning to late afternoon. The Sounders play Major League Soccer’s game of the week the same evening. What do my father’s heart surgery and Sounders FC have in common? Both are genuine and unique in their endeavors to champion the human spirit. With intense passion, taking nothing for granted, they march to meet life with scarves raised every day. Stopping for no one, yet inclusively showing everyone the way to happiness and celebration in life. In constant song and chant both demonstrate, in action and word alike, how much everything in life is worth fighting for. Both have the heart of a true champion.
Facing the most celebrated club in Major League Soccer’s short fifteen year history is Thursday evenings challenge for Sounders FC in its Round 13 match vs DC United. DC United are known as the “Black-and-Red”. A club that could easily be described as the heart of Major League Soccer’s short history. They own the largest trophy case in Major League Soccer. It holds four MLS Cups, four MLS Supporters’ Shields’ (for best record), two US Open Cups, and the one most coveted by Sounders FC, the *CONCACAF Champions’ Cup. DC United are the only US team to have won our regions Champions League trophy in 1998. The Sounders have a lot of room still to fill, but they got an early start in their inaugural season. Sounders traveled to RFK Stadium, for the 2009 US Open Cup final vs DC United winning 2-1. Literally swiping the trophy right out of United’s case and starting their own collection in Seattle. In only their second season, the Sounders will have their first opportunity to play for the CONCACAF Champions League later this summer. So, as it is with Sounders FC, and the immense passion of its fans, supporters will meet Thursday evening before the match, march, chant ,and sing. Fighting with the heart of a champion to defeat an already decorated one.
Both teams met 3 times last year. Sounders home match turned into a blistering goal frenzy, finally settling at 3-3. The away match proved a turning point in the inaugural season, with the Sounders winning on a brilliant strike by Fredy Montero, fed from James Riley for a 2-1 victory. The win led to a great end-of-season, run-of-form propelling the Sounders into the playoffs against Huston. The third match was the US Open Cup victory. The Black-and-Red have uncharacteristically struggled to a 2W-8L-1D record in 2010. Starting to find their form in th last few games, and with MLS taking a World Cup break, they will have nothing to hold back. Sounders would do well to duplicate their performance from last Saturday. Score early, continue to defend by applying attacking pressure, picking up additional goals. Then let the midfield and defense lock-down the second half. If DC United pick up an early goal, they will defend in numbers, limiting Sounders ability to find space forward to create scoring opportunities.
For my father, and for my team, Thursday will require a calm mind with intense spirit. Surgeons and supporters alike will need a full dedicated focus. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere in the world except Seattle to find the best of both. I will be in the waiting room for both operations. It is with the same intense spirit for life as my father that I will quietly raise my scarf in that waiting room tomorrow chanting for my father and team. You never wait alone, you never watch alone, and “you’ll never walk alone”.
*Do you know your CONCACAF’s? Get used to these A,B,C’s. As fluently corked as the acronym is, this is name of the region the US will always play in. Club and Country alike. If Sounders FC want to be #1 in the world they must win the CONCACAF Champions League. If the US wants to challenge for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, they must be one of the top three qualifying teams in the CONCACAF region. So, until Canada sells all its fresh water for cash and buys up North America, this is the acronym we got’ta stick with baby. Here it is: Take a breath, CONCACAF = Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football. Whew.