TUKWILA — MLS Cup tickets went on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. Friday.
By 11 a.m. there were more despondent fans and horror stories about trying to purchase a seat — any seat — online than what seemed available at CenturyLink Field for the league’s championship match between the Sounders FC and Toronto FC.
By 1 p.m., Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer jogged to a crowd of media at his team’s Starfire Sports training facility to share news he always knew was possible — his home state of Washington did its part to sell out “The CLink” for a soccer match.
“I’m really fired up about this,” Schmetzer said. “The building’s sold out; the building’s completely sold out.”
A record 69,000-plus will gather Nov. 10 to see what really is a rubber match between Seattle and Toronto. The three-time Western Conference champion Sounders have faced the Eastern Conference champs twice in league championship games at the Reds’ BMO Field. The Sounders won in 2016 and lost in 2017.
“Which team has the most pressure? Is it the home team that’s expected to win, or is it the visiting team?” Schmetzer wondered aloud. “The one thing I would say about this game is that you can throw some of that out because it’s a Final. The players are going to be up for it. But there is that subtle pressure that might be there, and we’ll have to address it.”
MLS allotted Toronto 3,000 tickets to sell to its fan base, and the league retained less for its own distribution. Should those not sell, they would be made available for the general public to purchase. There’s also a possibility to configure standing room-only space to reach 70,000, but it’s unlikely any more can be packed into the stadium.
At 69,000, the crowd for the MLS Cup Final will be the largest to attend a soccer match in Washington history. The mark surpasses the 67,385 fans for a derby between the Sounders and the Portland Timbers in August 2013.
Not everyone was happy Friday. People shared experiences on different online sites about waiting in a queue for an hour to purchase tickets only to find none were available when they clicked to buy. And at one point the Sounders’ site crashed.
“Some I.T. guy is going to get fired somewhere,” Schmetzer joked. “It’s just another symbol that people are fired up about this game.”
Those unable to snag a resale ticket — which are as high as $562 apiece for upper deck seats on SeatGeek.com — will have to settle with tuning in to view the broadcast at noon on ABC.
The Sounders and MLS are also expected to announce designated viewing sites as the game approaches.
Seattle hosted the 2009 MLS Cup between Real Salt Lake and the Los Angeles Galaxy. RSL won before 46,011 fans. Garth Lagerwey, the Sounders general manager and president of soccer, had a similar position with RSL and witnessing that November event gave him confidence Friday’s ticket sale would be a frenzy.
“It didn’t seem to me very much of a reach,” Lagerwey said. “It’s a great affirmation that maybe what we’re doing is worthwhile. There’s a lot of people that want to come to this event as part of the Seattle community and be part of our club and be part of the city and hopefully create a moment.”