I had the pleasure of participating in my first match at Starfire for the Seattle Sounders 5-0 rout of PSA Elite in the 4th round of the US Open Cup.
First off, I am grateful the Sounders have an urban stadium. Getting to Tukwila from North Seattle was a hassle. My wife and I tried to be sneaky and avoid the 5 until past downtown, but taking Roosevelt from Maple Leaf through the U to the Hill then downtown was an odyssey. I regularly mock all the empty seats in Commerce City and Frisco, but if the Sounders played in Tukwila… it’d be tough.
That said the drive was worth it because Starfire is a gem of a stadium. Crossing the practice fields where the Sounders daily punch the clock you come to the field. The stands are close to the pitch and provide not only an excellent view of the game (though the technicality of the players is impressive up close). The proximity allows an interactive aspect of the game. You can hear the ball pop audibly off the players’ boots. You can yell at the players (or opposing coach!) and know they hear you. The Starfire experience is unique. I mean this in the best way possible, it felt like a high school football game. Or maybe a state fair. The atmosphere in the stands felt down-home. Mrs. Ravinggreen and I bought the $12 tickets and so sat between the real housewives of South King County and love-struck teenagers in the uncovered bleachers amongst the suburban families. We were in a swarm of Sounders swag-clad kidderoos, which was fun. They danced and bounced throughout like good supporters should.
The game was mostly a chance to see fresh faces rock the Space Needle crest. Captain Brad Evans commanded his motley crew of charges deftly, blending experience (himself, Kenny Cooper, Leo Gonzalez) with youth (Aaron Kovar, Sean Okoli, Michael Azira) and underplayed veterans (David Estrada, Cam Weaver, Jalil Anibaba). And Brazilian-born Fabio Pereira earned his first minutes in a game that mattered replacing Evans in the second half. These Sounders made sure to represent well, as they played entertaining and dominant soccer.
The Sounders cruised to victory over their amateur opponents. Their first goal was on a penalty well earned by a hard-working Aaron Kovar. Kenny Cooper played his heart out, earning a brace and almost the hat trick. Sean Okoli and Zack Scott rounded out the scoring. Even Ozzie Alonso, who didn’t suit up, got in on the action catching a ball in the stands like a bleacher creature and received a round of applause. Though Marcus Hahnemann stole the show, swapping his sweaty jersey for a beer from the cheap seats shortly after the final whistle.
Slowly crossing the bridge over the Green River with all the other fans post-game, my wife noticed bubbles breaking on the surface of the water. It was dusk and time for fishing. People sang. Some called “Seattle!” and others responded “Sounders!” I cannot wait to go back to Starfire.