The buzz from 65,000-plus fans was palpable inside and outside of Qwest Field Saturday with Chelsea in town.
Sigi Schmid’s day started with a trip to the dry cleaners to pick up his clothes. Walking from his Bellevue apartment to the dry cleaners, Schmid saw a man clad head to toe in Sounders FC regalia, with a scarf around his neck. This was at around 8 a.m., four hours before Sounders FC’s friendly with Chelsea was to kick off.
“He was already ready for the game,” the Sounders FC coach said. “You’re not going to find that I think, in any other city in America. It’s unique right now to Seattle.”
With respect to Gold Cup matches being played in Philadelphia Saturday, the Emerald City was the center of the American soccer universe for the day. More than 65,000 fans from all over the area, even Canada, filled Qwest Field to see Chelsea defeat Sounders FC 2-0. Players and coaches from both teams gushed about the atmosphere and the fan support.
Rob Thompson and Veronica Huerta got decked out in their Sounders FC jerseys and took their seats at Qwest Field in the Brougham End, right in the thick of the Emerald City Supporters section.
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They watch soccer often, including any English Premier League match they can. But Thompson and Huerta were among the many that stayed loyal to the local team despite the presence of EPL giant Chelsea on the home pitch.
“She wanted to get here early,” Thompson said with Huerta nearby as the two stood together in the stands an hour before the match. “We were just really super excited about the game today. It will be really neat to see some of the best players in the world, but they’re definitely not going to get any love from me during the game.”
Not to say there weren’t plenty Chelsea fans in attendance. Chelsea supporters only added to the buzz on Occidental Ave. before the match. One young fan wearing a John Terry jersey held a sign that read “We faithfully worship you Chelsea FC,” as people milled about and the traditional March to the Match was ending in the stadium’s northwest plaza.
Stephanie Moneo brought her kids and a couple of their friends down from Victoria, B.C. for the match to see Chelsea.
“We love the players,” Moneo said. “It’s as close as we’re going to get to any real game.”
U.S. Open Cup match sold out
Seattle’s U.S. Open Cup semifinal match against the Houston Dynamo on Tuesday night at Starfire Sports Complex is sold out, it was announced Saturday.
Sounders FC added several hundred more seats to the small stadium at the Tukwila complex but those are sold as well. The game can be seen live on the team Web site, www.soundersfc.com via videocast.
Fans are encouraged to arrive early for the 7 p.m. kickoff. Houston drew 1-1 with Toronto FC Saturday in an MLS match in Canada.
• There was a lighter moment in the postgame news conference when a reporter from England asked Schmid about the rumor of England’s Fulham taking an interest in forward Fredy Montero. Schmid said Montero has a bright future and that he thinks Montero will get his opportunity in Europe sooner or later, and then got an empathetic pat on the back from Freddie Ljungberg as a follow-up question was asked.
• Sounders FC rookie Michael Fucito, who came on as a substitute in the 74th minute, asked for and received Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien’s jersey on the field after the game. “I went right after him. I just love the way he plays,” Fucito said, promising to frame the jersey. Tyrone Marshall switched jerseys with Frank Lampard of Chelsea.
• Backup goalkeeper Terry Boss made four saves for Seattle in the second half.
• Chelsea will remain in town until Monday night, with practices at undisclosed locations before leaving for the next game on its U.S. tour.
José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or firstname.lastname@example.org