Sounders FC fans greeted the new MLS Cup champions on Sunday afternoon with songs, scarves, flags — and a sousaphone — after the team’s return flight from Toronto touched down at Boeing Field.
“Thank you, Sounders! Thank you, Sounders!”
That’s what Seattle fans sang as they greeted the new MLS Cup champions Sunday afternoon, belting out stadium songs when the team’s return flight from Toronto touched down at Boeing Field.
Players hoisted their trophy above their heads and cheered along with their supporters, and a marching band kept the party rolling.
“Olé olé, olé olé! Seattle Sounders, here we go!” the fans also sang.
The champs earned the warm welcome with an exhilarating shootout win Saturday night, weathering cold and windy conditions to beat Toronto FC on the Canadians’ home turf.
“We wanted to bring this home to our fans, and to see the support out here, it’s unbelievable,” said star rookie forward Jordan Morris, a Mercer Island native.
Morris said the victory hit him harder when he looked out his plane window as the team flew into Seattle and saw the waterfront Great Wheel lighted up with rave green.
“It’s pretty crazy, especially growing up in this area,” he said. “To be able to bring a trophy back to the city I love, it’s awesome.”
Andrew McDougall, 8, of West Seattle, was among the crowd of several hundred fans outside King County Airport. Having fallen asleep before the game ended, he roused his mother to ask her the score as soon as his eyes opened Sunday morning.
That was at 4:27 a.m.
“It was early, but it’s not a bad way to wake up when your son is chanting, ‘We are the champions,’ ” Sara McDougall laughed.
Mark Terry has had to wait a lot longer to see his heroes notch a title. The 58-year-old took in his first Sounders game in 1974, when an earlier version of the team was part of the North American Soccer League. He was in high school, and the game was at Seattle Center’s Memorial Stadium. Terry went on to play soccer for Ballard High School and Seattle Pacific University.
“I fell in love with the team and the sport right away,” the Mill Creek resident said at the airport, clutching a blue and green Sounders flag his mother stitched for him 40 years ago. “Winning it all now, I just can’t believe it. It’s incredible. This is exactly what I always wanted to be a part of.”
There were plenty of flags and scarves at Boeing Field but only one sousaphone, hefted by Skylar Johnson, a member of the Sound Wave marching band, which plays at Seattle games.
Johnson had watched the MLS Cup at a bar in Roosevelt where there was “no room to breathe — only room to yell,” he said.
Preparing to meet the team with a brassy tune, the 28-year-old beamed.
“I can’t wait to see the guys get off the plane,” he said. “This is as good as it gets.”
The game was a scoreless draw through 90 minutes of regular time and 30 minutes of extra time, with the Sounders unable to muster a single shot on target.
Jose Rodriguez, who drove down to the airport from Everett, said he never let doubt creep in.
“I had faith. I knew they would win. I just didn’t know how,” said Rodriguez, 18.
Nathan Thomburg, who drove up from Puyallup, was less confident.
“I couldn’t stay still. I kept standing up and sitting down,” said Thomburg, also 18. “I was more nervous watching than I’ve ever been playing myself.”
Then came the heart-stopping penalty kicks. Roman Torres netted the winning goal as the Sounders prevailed 5-4 in the sixth round and claimed their first league title.
Impromptu celebrations erupted in Occidental Square and outside CenturyLink Field after the final whistle, as supporters poured out of Pioneer Square watering holes.
The revelry will continue Tuesday, when the team plans to hold a march and rally in downtown Seattle.
At the airport, midfielder Cristian Roldan took the trophy on a tour around the barricades separating the players from the crowd so some of the fans could reach out and touch it.
When goalkeeper Stefan Frei — who kept the Sounders alive in the 108th minute with a superb, leaping save — lifted the silverware above his head, supporters chanted, “MVP! MVP!”
For Brian Schmetzer, the Seattle-reared coach promoted from his assistant position midseason after Sigi Schmid was let go, the weekend was an emotional one. He stepped off the plane Sunday eager to get home and rest.
“You know, take a few days off and enjoy it,” Schmetzer said.