Seattle Sounders vs. Toronto: My Maiden Voyage

So as the Sounders starting lineup was announced I’ll admit, I was disappointed. I had heard a lot about this guy named Eddie Johnson. I know who Fredy Montero is, and while I haven’t followed the Sounders much, I did know about the controversial trade that brought Johnson to Seattle. In his place was a guy whose name I’d heard, but a guy who I didn’t know a lot about: David Estrada. My disappointment would soon be reversed.

Brad's Dos Equis was removed from this shot for decency.

It all started at this place called Swannie’s, which is somehow affiliated with The Seattle Comedy Underground. That gave it instant credibility in my world, as Kris “Sonics Guy” Brannon is the manager of the Tacoma location, and I think that guy is pretty awesome. We showed up late because well, I brought my girlfriend. Anybody in a relationship with a woman has probably given up on being on time to anything. When we showed up Brad and his buddy Steve were drinking Dos Equis Amber Lager from a bottle. I was quick to express my disappointment, as St. Patrick’s Day is an Irish holiday, and Dos Equis Amber Lager tastes like someone drained wet dirty socks into carbonated water.

I ordered two Brougham Bitters immediately, and finished both long before my girlfriend finished her Blue Moon (bleh, but less bleh than Brad). If I’d have known that it would take her so long, or rather estimated my time correctly based on past experience, I’d have ordered a third and enjoyed it. So while Brad didn’t seem embarrassed at all about being seen with such a shitty beer, his buddy Steve clearly has better taste in beer, and we shared a handful of IPA recommendations and home brewing stories. I don’t know how many times Brad called me a beer snob while we were sitting at the table, but it was several, and my beer snobbery hasn’t made its last appearance in this piece.

Again thoroughly intent on being punctual, my girlfriend decided to use the facilities just minutes before the Emerald City Supporters march. Brad was stressed about it until we actually made it to the march. I have to say, marching with ECS was easily the coolest display of fanhood I’ve ever seen outside of a stadium. People walked holding up their scarves and sketched pictures of the Sounders players. ECS led chants I didn’t know, but the universal passion, and vastness of the crowd was really impressive.

When I walked in I needed two things: a bathroom and a beer, in that order. After a frantic search I found the former, and a much less frantic search led me to the latter. I found Red Hook’s ECS No Equal Amber Lager. I’d posted my earlier piece in their facebook group, and had this beer recommended to me.

(I also had someone recommend that if anyone saw me to buy me a beer, but make sure it was a domestic, little did they know)

That ECS has its own beer is pretty incredible. I can’t say that I’m anything but jealous of the kind of following and loyalty that ECS has. They sit (or have seats) in the south endzone and spend the entire game beating a drum and chanting. I’ve always been jealous of other cities that have more rabid sports fans, and the entire game I was jealous of everyone in the ECS sections.

The ECS section has all those flags. God damn does that look fun.

But the beer. Oh the beer. I think that I understand the way this works. Red Hook can benefit from the ECS brand. Red Hook has more money than any other Seattle brewery. Therefore, connect the dots, and Red Hook makes an ECS beer. I get it. When you’re an organization that produces no physical product, and survives on brand alone, creating secondary revenue streams is important, and making those as profitable as possible is also important. But Red Hook?

(After some conversation with the ECS hierarchy, who have been great in their interaction with me since this piece, I’ve found out that ECS is receiving no money from Red Hook, though I think they should have stuck Red Hook with a bill, myself.)

There are so many good breweries in Seattle. Brougham Bitter is made by Big Al Brewing in White Center. Georgetown Brewing is in Georgetown, Fremont Brewing in Fremont, Elysian right across the street, the possibilities are endless. And they ended up with Red Hook? And a lager no less? It was pretty disappointing. While it poured dark and beautiful, and I expected a big malt-forward flavor, and was disappointed. If you’d have given me a blind taste test I’d have guessed that the ECS beer landed somewhere between two and four on the Standard Reference Method scale. By the end of my 16 oz. I felt like I was supposed to be wearing a backwards and upside down visor, sunglasses on the back of my head,  sweatbands on my forearms despite doing no exercise, to be hearing some Nickleback played obnoxiously loud and to have my beer garnished with a ping pong ball. That’s not to say that beer pong is bad, mind you. But that douchebags are bad, douchebags drink bad beer.

But apart from the beer that represents them, ECS is really fucking awesome. Kudos to you guys. And I hope you’ll let me sit with you next time I attend a Sounders game.

Some guy in an apartment along the marching path.

The game was also good. Contrary to what my friends and colleagues may think, I actually know quite a bit about soccer. I played and refereed for several years before making the educated decision that I would rather watch baseball. So when the Sounders were called for offsides in the 59th minute, I jumped from my already standing position and yelled “Ahhh fuck you, that’s bullshit” at the referee. When Mauro Rosales was pushed inside the 18 while attempting a header in the 73rd minute I echoed the same sentiments.

The guy next to me even let me know that we say “You Suck Asshole!” on any free kick that the opponent takes. Great tradition.

And David Estrada. Holy shit David Estrada. You’re amazing David Estrada. For all I know about professional soccer, which isn’t much, David Estrada is like the Babe Ruth of soccer. Three goals. David Estrada.

Fuck everyone in this picture not wearing a green jersey.

My first Seattle Thunderbirds game I saw a 10-1 victory for the T-Birds. That game was certainly exhilarating, but this was better. David fucking Estrada.

Then in the extra time at the end of the match Aaron Maund made a very dirty tackle, and considering the level of contention in the game at the time it was especially dirty. If it was football he’d have been given a 15 yard penalty and maybe been ejected from the game. If it was baseball he’d have the next pitch he saw hit him behind the ear. Fuck you Aaron Maund. You’re an asshole.

So my first Sounders experience was great. Really great. For the record, there was never a way that this article would ever be “I hate the Sounders.” For starters, I’ve been jealous of ECS since I knew what it was. And I also want people to read what Brad writes.

But I had an amazing time. I stood on a concrete floor for two hours straight and had a good time. My knees felt like I should have clocked in when I showed up, and out when I left. But my eyes, and my senses, and the sports fan in me wanted to stand there for another two hours.

This isn’t to say that I’ll choose the Sounders over the Mariners ever. I really love baseball. But I get it now. I understand why 30,000+ people (38,709 in attendance last night) make the trek to Seatte in their rave green every weekend. I’ll follow the Sounders even when I don’t watch them.

I don’t get the scarves. I’ll never get the scarves. And unless I must wear one to enjoy the fruits of chanting with ECS, I’ll never wear a scarf.

Go Sounders.


  • Brad

    To be fair, since I made Stephen have a “Gameday Special”, he chose the beers. I can’t wait to read the recap of your maiden away trip later this year.

    • Casey McLain

      I’m never going to call that guy stephen. I hope he knows that. 

  • Anonymous

    Damn Casey you had more fun at a soccer game than any I’ve been to, maybe the game needs to be Americanized.

    • Casey McLain

      It was really fun. I was surprised. 

  • mark

    Glad you enjoyed the game.  You’re certainly welcome to come watch the game in the GA with ECS.

    As for No Equal, while it’s not the craftiest of beers (unlike the Brougham Bitter – also an ECS beer, ECS members wanted a beer they could drink by the pitcher, during the nice Seattle Summer, and buy in local super markets.  This is why ECS partnered with Red Hook for this beer.  We knew not everyone would like it, but it has been well received overall.

    About the name Brougham Bitter, which I’m sure you recognize as your site has an awesome name, ECS uses Brougham for a few things – we are referred to as the Brougham Faithful, we stand in the Brougham End, and there is a subgroup called the Brougham Boys (and a female group called the Royal Femmes).

    • Casey McLain

      I am all about Royal Brougham, the journalist and the street. Really good name for your stuff, and thanks for the compliment on mine!

      • Casey McLain

        And by the way, I get the beer thing. Not a Red Hook fan but I’d let them make a NASORB beer. As long as I got some creative control (like a bag of hops I got to dump in at my own will). 

  • Llarian

    I’d just like to point out that the ECS finds the “You Suck Asshole” chant to be inane and have done our best to abolish it and drown it out.  Its common league-wide on goal kicks, but it’s rather uncreative and infantile, especially when its usually chanted on something so common and integral to the game.  (Come on, lets save our insulting chants for diving and dirty tackles)

    • Casey McLain

      I can appreciate that, but I enjoyed it. I think it’s a better tradition than people watching other shit on TV at Mariners games!