02 December 2009

MLS Cup Final

The energy was palpable, the beer cold, the players well conditioned. Fans flocked into Qwest Stadium, occasionally looking up to the Seattle skyline. Even the Space Needle seemed festive; its circular top looked curiously like a soccer ball in the lime green and sky blue light of buildings surrounding it. It seemed as if all of Seattle had come out for the Major League Soccer cup final, the Superbowl of American soccer. Sausages sizzle on hot grills as cash registers ring the happy "Rrrrring!" of a sale. Excited chatter from all corners blends into a buzz as the colors of the scarves around the chatterees' necks blends too, this time into a rainbow of team pride. No one stands still, save for the narrator, who slouches next to a blue pillar, a Hefeweizen in each hand and a camera nestled in the hat hanging off one of her wrists.

"Ready?", her companion, a tall and devilishly handsome young man, asks her, holding out a brand new Seattle Sounders scarf. "Pop bought us scarves!" She nods and sticks out her neck, accepting the scarf. Wordlessly, they join the throng of excited fans and make their way to section 107. They descend the stairs lower and lower toward the pitch until they see their front row seats. The narrator smiles up at her husband, "This was the best wedding present ever!!!!!" He smiles back and looks up to the stands above, taking in the sea of green and blue; it seems that the Sounders fans care little that their team isn't actually in the final. Here and there lies a spot of dark blue or yellow or burgandy--colors of the real foes on this night: the L.A. Galaxy and Real Salt Lake. The players are already warming up only feet away from our happy narrator and she lets out a squeal of excitement as she lifts the cap off her camera lens.
"Do you see him?" she asks as she pushes a few buttons.
Her companion wipes some foam off his upper lip, "Who?"
"David Beckham!"
He rolls his eyes, scanning the field. "Yeah, right there, the one with the mohawk."
She squeals again and starts shooting photos as her companion turns around and surveys the crowd. A whistle blows as players head to the sidelines and shed their warm-up gear. Event coordinators flock the field as a pair of women clad in gold and all the makeup they could find bring out the treasure of the evening: the MLS Cup. They are followed by the Seattle Sounders themselves, who are greeted with all the excitement of a home game...

When the crowd quiets and the soon-to-be champions have entered the field, there is a moment of rest. A silence, two teams huddling on their respective sides, then a whistle, the sharp "puh" of cleat hitting ball, and the game has begun...

...two 45-minute halves, two 15-minute over time quarters, and not one but two series of match-deciding penalty kicks later, the narrator clips the lens cap onto her exhausted camera. She looks up at her companion once more, "I really feel for sports photographers now. That was intense!" Her companion hears nothing; he is collapsed back in his seat, eyes glazed and mouth open. "What a game!" he says, wrapping his new scarf around his neck and against the cold of the evening. Beyond him, the players of Real Salt Lake jump up and down as their cheering section does the same in the stands, celebrating their victory. He shakes his head again, "What a game..."


Barry said...

Great story and exceptional pictures. You should be a sports photographer!

Cindy said...

Thanks, Barry. You have no idea how flattering that is!