Almost anyone who watches a Seattle Sounders match at CenturyLink Field is wowed by the size, sound and fervor of the Rave Green's home fans.
The experience reaches a whole new level for the players on the field, however. Stefan Frei has lived life on both sides of that cauldron, having visited C-Link as a member of Toronto FC before joining the Sounders ahead of the 2014 MLS season.
Earlier this month Frei tried to explain the phenomenon in a post for PlayersTribune.com, penning a tribute to the club's legions of devoted fans and explaining what makes them so special in his eyes.
His own Seattle experience kicked off even before his first home game as a Sounder – it was actually at an early preseason training session.
“Given the weather, I thought 30 or so fans would show up for a couple of autographs,” writes Frei. “Oh, my gosh. I was so wrong. Hundreds of Emerald City Supporters — members of the largest Sounders supporters group — were lined up around the pitch to sing and chant. Rows and rows of fans held posters, waved flags and unfurled giant tifos that cover entire sections of the crowd.
“I thought, What the heck is going on here? Just don’t embarrass yourself, Stefan. After I made a couple of saves, the crowd chanted, 'Stefan! Stefan! Stefan!' Suddenly, my nerves gave way to excitement. I got goosebumps.
“I realized that there was something different about this club.”