We're mere hours away from kickoff and I feel the same merrily tense gameday anticipation I've known ever since the internet, and with it, the national team's schedule came into my life.
Yet that excitement doesn't come from the usual days-long wonderment over who will win the midfield battle, what striker(s) will start and just watching and/or writing about a game between two teams representing two nations.
In fact, only a very small part of that anticipation gazes at the field. I have only the slightest idea what will happen there, less so than my lack of understanding of chaos theory usually dictates.
When I turn on the television in about two hours I'll be just as tuned into the crowd. This is Seattle -- the only place in America where regularly playing soccer in an NFL stadium isn't a problem unless you're the visiting team.
And the fans there, they know they're on stage. They've been performing, for us, the Sounders and themselves, in stadium and on broadcasts since First Kick 2009.
They routinely put on the largest, most finely tuned atmospheric production this country has to offer. It's also heavily bearded, ironically, maybe? It, the fans and their culture, fill me with wonder. But never more than tonight.
Will the Emerald City Supporters Club be as prepared for the national team? Can their members replicate that collective voice for the whole country? Can that fan base and its volume put a scare in Panama? Will Portland fans help?
I'm almost always pleased when I see a good crowd on these shores and I know we'll see a big one tonight. But what will it do? What will it sing? Will everyone know what to say and when?
Maybe it doesn't really matter. Just, with most things American soccer I can either cobble together an idea of what will happen, or, I'm so certain of the uncertainty I don't bother making a prediction, not even to myself.
But this possibility of a full-bodied and fully prepared crowd, I just can't look away from. It overshadows what usually dominates my thoughts on days like today -- the U.S. men's national team -- constantly reminding me that I just won't understand until whatever it is plays out before my eyes.
Even then, maybe not.
The same capos that orchestrate the Qwest Field crowd could do the same for Sam's Army and Jurgen Klinsmann's team. I'd really like that.
I wouldn't understand it. But I don't need to. Kind of like America, no?
- Jacob Klinger