Home crowd gives Sounders FC big boost

"You're not only the best fans in MLS; you're the most attractive fans in MLS!"

That statement, made by captain Kasey Keller over the Qwest Field public address system after Seattle Sounders FC's 2-1 victory against FC Dallas, put the capstone on a perfect night to end Seattle's regular season.

Seattle's come-from-behind victory briefly put Sounders FC into second place in the Western Conference with 47 points. While their final playoff seeding might change based on Sunday's result between Chivas USA and Houston, Seattle nevertheless roars into the playoffs as winners of three in a row.

They also managed to break a three-month goal drought at home, discarding a burden Keller referred to as a "monkey off our back."

"It was just tremendous to score goals at home again," said head coach Sigi Schmid. "It's been a while since we've scored goals at home so it was great to hear the crowd erupt and allow them to let out all their passion."

Riding the high from the impressive victory, in which Seattle came back from a 1-0 halftime deficit to score twice in the second half, Schmid gave voice to the team's soaring confidence.

"Everything for us is like a speed bump on the road," Schmid said. "Nothing is going to be a detour in terms of what we're trying to do in terms of winning an MLS Cup."

Up next for Sounders FC is the postseason, but the expansion club dedicated Saturday night to its record-breaking fans. More than 33,000 fans came out in the final match of the season, setting an MLS record for average attendance of 30,943 fans per game, a testament to the way the local community has embraced the team.

The party atmosphere permeated Seattle's SoDo district, as fans arrived at Qwest Field to tailgate as early as noon for the 7:30 p.m. kickoff. The club's pregame March to the Match coincided with an international effort to break the world record for people dancing along with Michael Jackson's "Thriller." The attempt led to a surreal scene of face-painted zombies from the Seattle Thrillers mixing with face-painted Seattle Sounders fans in Seattle's Pioneer Square neighborhood.

Drew Carey, Adrian Hanauer, Joe Roth and Tod Lieweke all were on hand to take in the festivities in the pleasant Seattle afternoon, with Carey stopping for pictures and autographs outside of local pub Fuel, the favored watering hole of the team's most dedicated fans. Even Seattle's weather cooperated, lending cool, clear skies to the Saturday night game.

Sounders FC cooperated as well, with Brad Evans providing the final piece of magic in the 84th minute to give Seattle the victory.

Not to be lost in the celebration was head coach Sigi Schmid's 125th career victory, the most in Major League Soccer, passing current U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley. But even Schmid gave credit to the fans after the match.

"You have been the best fans in Major League Soccer, hands down," Schmid said.

Andrew Winner is a contributor to MLSnet.com


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