Here's my game story. Sounders advance to the U.S. Open Cup and will meet Kansas City at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Starfire. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Thursday.
However, the Sounders seemed to have fun tonight far beyond merely advancing in the Cup. Everyone seemed really energized to play in a stadium with this kind of buzz tonight.
As we were doing our interviews outside the locker room, we could hear the Sounders singing: "Jingle bells, jingle bell, jingle all the way; oh was fun it is (something something) when the Sounders win away."
I'm not sure if they showed it on TV, but the Roger Levesque also had a little fun after his first-minute goal put Seattle ahead.
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"I actually had a celebration planned with Nate Jaqua, running over to the corner: I was the tree and he cut me down, and I kind of fell over," Lesveque said. "That was for the fans. We were just disappointed it was on this end of the field and not over (by the Timbers Army supporters group)."
While clearly enjoying himself, Levesque also gave the Timbers supporters their due.
"I've played a lot of games on this pitch," he said. "I've had some good memories and I've also been on the other end of it. … They've always had a really strong support system – the best in the USL hands down. We didn't expect anything less tonight. The atmosphere was absolutely amazing. Whether that Timbers Army is booing you or cheering for you, it's great for soccer in the Northwest."
Sounder after Sounder praised the crowd. Kasey Keller even implied -- perhaps seriously -- that he might extend his career to 2011 so that he'll be around for Seattle's rivalries with Portland and Vancouver.
"This rivalry is going to be tremendous," Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller said. "When the stadium gets revamped a little bit more, they get stands around the whole field, the put a better surface down, there's going to be some good football played here. And I think everyone's extremely excited about 2011. I really see myself having to play at least one more year (after the current two-year contract) because I really want to be a part of this if my body's willing."
As for what happened on the pitch, coach Sigi Schmid seemed happy too, with reservations.
"Obviously we got off to a great start: We scored a great early goal," Schmid said. "The second goal was well-taken, as well. We were around the goal at times. We let them back in it by giving up the goal late in the first half. … But that's what these games are. They aren't always pretty. Sometimes they're the kinds of games where you have to roll up your sleeves and that's what we did in the second half."
The Sounders return to league action July 11, when the league-leading Houston Dynamo visits Qwest Field.
66th minute: Le Toux out, Montero in. This could be interesting, because my hunch is that there aren't many Fredy Monteros in USL-I.
Attendance record: Today's crowd of 16,382 is the largest ever to see the USL Timbers at home and the first home sellout in franchise history.
Halftime: The Sounders dominated most of the way, but things turned in the closing minutes, as Seattle's advantage in shots dwindled to 10-8.
43rd minute: Sounders defense got caught watching as the Timbers lofted a ball into the box. First guy on it was Portland leading scorer Mandjou Keita, who knocked it past Keller to cut the Sounders lead to 2-1.
27th minute: Stephen King scores from the top of the penalty area. They've ruled an assist to Jaqua, but from my view I thought the ball was tapped away from Jaqua by a defender and it ended up on King's foot. In any case, 2-0; and a fair 2-0. Sounders dominating. My neck hasn't had to turn left much. Sounders nine shots, Timbers four. Timbers four saves, Sounders one. Sounders three corners, Timbers none.
First minute: Someone threw a torch on the field in the opening seconds, and the Sounders quickly followed with fireworks of their own as Sanna Nyassi crossed to Roger Levesque, who headed it into the back of the net.
7:20: Pretty impressive display by Timbers Army in the end zone ... including their big surprise, which features a huge poster of a lumberjack clutting down a reproduction of the Space Needle.
Really nice atmosphere here. But now, the attention switches to the pitch.
7:15: The Sounders are out in their usual green/blue kits. The Timbers are in black.
The shade is now totally covering the field, except for the benches which are on the opposite side of the field from Qwest, and are staring straight into the sun.
7:05: The lineups are out.
For the Sounders: GK Keller, D Riley, Hurtado, Ianni, Sturgis; M Nyassi, Vagenas, King, Le Toux; F Levesque Jaqua. Subs: Boss, Wahl, Montero, Brown, Neagle and Smith.
6:40: The gates have opened. The fans are pouring in, including several sections worth of Timbers Army. They gave the expected boos to the Sounders who are now on the field.
The Timbers are on the field too, but I can't quite resolve the great kit controversy. The Sounders are in their white warmups. The Timbers are in black, but I can't tell if that's their black alternate uniforms or if these are just black warmups.
6 p.m. The countdown clock on the scoreboard just started ticking down toward ... 7:20. We've been told all week that kickoff will be 7, but we're now told 7:20. Which, I guess, could be good news for TV viewers if the Mariners go long.
5:55: There is a time-and-temperature sign right across from the press box, and it's showing 85 degrees. However, the shadow of the stadium has crept about halfway across the pitch, and should be mostly across by kickoff.
In addition to the heat, one other factor that could come into play for this game is the pitch itself. This place used to have that awful first-generation artificial turf, like that fast stuff they used to have at Memorial Stadium. They've got a better version down now, but it's still faster than the Field Turf the Sounders are used to.
Sigi Schmid was asked about that this week, not only for how the turf might affect play, but also how it might even affect his lineup.
"It's been a while since I had a team play on that surface," he said. "When I played on it, it was a really, really hard surface. But I know they've laid a new surface since then, and it's supposed to be a much better turf. Obviously any time you play you don't want to put your players in jeopardy of injury. But they play USL games there week-in and week-out, and players have played there, and nobody has come back and said this is a dangerous place to play. I think sometimes they do cover the dirt on certain areas around the base paths. I don't know if they're going to do that for our game or not."
5:25: Twenty-five minutes after they went on sale, the last standing-room ticket were scooped out. This game is officially a sellout.
Pregame at PGE Park: I got to the area about two hours and 45 minutes before kickoff, and there already was a line of fans ready to get in. Even though the line was mostly in the shade, the Timbers organization was nice enough to send some personnel down handing out free bottled water on what is a very hot day.
At the ticket booths, there were signs that the game is sold out, except for some standing-room tickets that were going on sale at 5 p.m.
There is a nice little buzz out there, but I didn't see anything even close to over the line. I saw probably a couple dozen folks walking around in Sounders jerseys, and living to tell about it.(However, I do here that the Timbers Army has something special cooked up for tonight. I believe it has to do with some reproduction of the Space Needle that will meet a bad end. But I haven't heard any details except that they've been working on it for a couple of days.)
Meanwhile, we'll keep our normal gameday running blog going here. I'll pop in with any pregame news -- the Sounders' lineup should be especially interesting -- and then pop in with game updates and then come back with postgame notes and locker room quotes.
Kickoff is 7. The game is on FSN. Good luck for a quick Mariners game.