SEATTLE – US national team midfielder Alejandro Bedoya had never been to Seattle before his team took on Ecuador in the Copa America Centenario quarterfinals on Thursday.
He’s unlikely to forget his first visit anytime soon.
The US bagged a 2-1 victory over Ecuador to advance to the Copa semifinals, aided by a raucous and heavily pro-US crowd of 47,322 onlookers at CenturyLink Field that Bedoya credited after the game as a catalyst for the result.
“I had never been here before, so I was already looking forward to it,” Bedoya said. “This is as close as you’re going to get in these tournaments against these teams to a [heavily] pro-America crowd. You could see me, myself and other players, after we scored, trying to get the crowd amped up and everything.”
Bedoya said that the energy provided by the C-Link crowd wasn’t just for show – that it actually gave his team a noticeable boost throughout the night.
“We feed off that energy, right?” Bedoya said. “We knew it was going to be a pro-America crowd and feeding off that energy helps a lot. It makes you run that extra little bit. For sure, it helps.”
The Outlaws took over the Brougham End at CenturyLink, the section normally occupied by the Seattle Sounders’ Emerald City Supporters group, leading the crowd in their usual array of songs and chants throughout the contest.
“The crowd is like the backbone of the team,” Zardes said. “That’s what I always say. The American Outlaws today, you could feel the atmosphere rocking. They were just behind us the whole way.”
Klinsmann says Thursday was a continuation of the expanding and dedicated support he’s noticed since he took over as US coach in 2011.
“We had the best crowd of all nations down in Brazil [at the 2014 World Cup],” Klinsmann said. “In our World Cup qualifiers, it’s a real home advantage for us. The Outlaws are organized throughout the entire country and even followed us to Puerto Rico for a little warm-up game. It’s growing on all levels.”