Sounders Insider

Going? Traffic challenges/options abound

Going to the Chelsea game? (Here's my preview from the Saturday paper.) A few things that might help with your planning:

Both upper decks will be opened, creating a capacity of 67,000. With only a few hundred tickets remaining, that means this will be the largest crowd ever to see the Sounders -- probably by a factor of two -- and it might just be the largest crowd ever to see a soccer game in Seattle. (The current record is 66,830, which turned out for the Real Madrid-DC United match on Aug. 9, 2006.) And I imagine that would also be the largest crowd ever to see a soccer match in the Northwest.

Therefore, while the game should be fun, getting to and from the stadium might not be.

One recommendation is to arrive early. And to accommodate those who do, gates will open at 10 a.m. And so you'll have something to do once you're there, soccer celebration activities will begin then at the north plaza.

Fans also are encouraged to avoid South Royal Brougham Way, which will be reduced to one lane and accessible only from Fourth Avenue and only to fans using the Event Center Garage.

Sound Transit is doing its part by running Sounder trains from Tacoma and Everett.

And -- if you're feeling real lucky and have a remarkable amount of faith in government projects -- Saturday also marks the first day that the Link light-rail line will be operating from Tukwila, through the Rainier Valley and into downtown Seattle. However, upwards of 100,000 people are expected to want to be among the first to give light rail a test drive, so good luck with that.

Other things you should know:



March to the Match

Join Sound Wave, the Sounders FC Alliance and fans as they "March to the Match". The March will depart Occidental Park located in the heart of Pioneer Square at the intersection of Main Street and Occidental Avenue South. The "March to the Match" will depart the park at 10:30 a.m. and finish just outside the Northwest Gate, where fans can enter the stadium.

Soccer Celebration

Soccer Celebration activities are located at the Northwest Gate, inside the stadium at the North Plaza and throughout the Qwest Field Plaza. Activities include inflatable games, face painting, sign making, music and more. Soccer Celebration activities will begin at 10 a.m. and conclude after the match.



Season-ticket-holder tickets

Season ticket holders are reminded that this game shows up as the "A" game on their ticket strip.

And, oh yes, the game:

CHELSEA FC

AT SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC

Noon Saturday, Qwest Field.


TV: ESPN2.

Radio: 97.3 FM (in Spanish on 1210 AM).

Notes: Chelsea is the reigning FA Cup champion. Last season, the Blues finished third in the English Premier League. … This begins a four-game U.S. tour for Chelsea. Sounders FC is their only MLS opponent on the tour. After today, the Blues will meet Mexico's Club America and Italy's Inter and AC Milan. Chelsea's EPL season begins Aug. 15 at home against Hull City. … The clubs have agreed to unlimited substitutions. Chelsea officials indicated the Blues will use most of their roster except for their African players who have just returned from national team duty. … England international Joe Cole (knee) did not travel. Captain John Terry is here, amid transfer rumors that dominated Chelsea's prematch press conference. … This is Chelsea's fourth game in Seattle. The Blues beat a local amateur side, 5-0, in 1967 at Memorial Stadium; lost to the NASL Sounders, 2-0, in 1977 at the Kingdome; and defeated Celtic, 4-2, in 2004 at Qwest Field. … A natural-grass pitch has been installed for this game.

Next: Houston Galaxy vs. Sounders, 7 p.m. Tuesday, Starfire Sports Stadium, Tukwila; U.S. Open Cup semifinal.

More information on most of this is available at SoundersFC.com.

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