To truly appreciate this story you’ll have to know the background of how I became a Sounders fan, and my first away match.
This all started 12 years ago … You see my lil’ sister, Charrina Bayne, aka West Coast Playa [WCP], shared with me a story how she was incredibly screwed out of season tickets from an ex-boyfriend. Hence another reason he’s an “EX”. So as her big brother, I felt helpless to witness my sister in such pain. She loves soccer! The wheels of thought in my head got turning.
Just how much are season tickets for the Seattle Sounders FC? How the hell do you buy something like that anyways?
I called the Sounders front office naturally. I spoke to a representative. After several conversations, and contemplation, I was the proud owner of two season tickets to the 2010 Sounders season. My intention was to present to my lil’ sister her gift. Two season tickets for a year, so she can always have a wingman / wingman / co-worker, always someone next to her on her soccer adventures. This was her birthday gift, Christmas gift, and any other thoughtful gift for the entire year!
They even let her choose her seats.
So, they released the schedule in December I think. I presented her my gift. She was ECS-tatic! Then she looked at me emphatically, “Ever been to a soccer match, ‘los?”
“Nope, just a ‘hawks fan,” I answer flatly.
“Would come with me to my first match, and basically all the other matches?” she asks me.
Thinking, whicka-what? “Excuse me? That was my gift from me to you. I had no intention of attending any of those soccer matches.”
“Right. I understand that. But I can’t truly enjoy any of them unless my partner in crime is with me. ‘sides, you’re my big brother, I love you and I have the best times with you.”
Thinking, well hell! That didn’t do go I thought it would. “Oh, why not? What’s the worst can happen?”
Opening Kick, March 2010
Clad in Sounders FC gear, armed with my ticket, and WCP being my guide to match day, we arrived. She coached me thoroughly about the fun that is about to be had. I had no idea what was in store for me.
During the pre-match ceremonies, I pointed down to a crowd and section of people. “WCP, who’s that?”
“Oh! Them? That’s the ECS. The Emerald City Supporters. It’s the Sounders fanclub.”
“You mean, as in soccer hooligans?”
“Not exactly, but that’s close enough. They sing, wave flags, and truly support and love the Sounders,” she smiles. “I’m a member and cardholder.”
2013, three years later, after hella matches, I’m a full-fledged Sounders fan and soccer hooligan. Even though I don’t sit with the ECS, I don’t just sing it, but I BRING IT for every match, for every minute – not just the 90 minutes of match play either! Then again… when do I not?
One innocuous day, WCP asks as she stands at the threshold of my bedroom door, “Hey, ‘los. What are you doing on July 6th? Got any plans?”
Amazingly at the time she asked, I didn’t. “Not a damn thing. Why do you ask?” as I sit at my computer desk.
“Got an email from the ECS about the Vancouver away match. Bus ticket and match ticket is 85 bones each. Wanna rock that up?”
“HELLS TO THE YEAH!” Honestly, all I heard was an international soccer match (Bucket List item) that involved a chauffeur / designated driver and it’s the Sounders.
“Think Dad wants to rock up too?” she explores.
“Of course,” I reply.
July 6, 2013.
Match day, Away Match versus Vancouver Whitecaps. Now WCP thoroughly coached me for weeks about expectations, etc. She’s really amp’d about this adventure, I can tell.
Once again, clad in Sounders gear, we arrived to Northgate Park and Ride hella early. We posted up at the Five Guys Burgers knowing that we needed to nosh on something for this EPIC bus adventure we were about to embark on.
We walk over. Thinking now with two versions of myself on my shoulders… Angel Carlos says, “Ok. Now be a good boy. Don’t overindulge in drinking, be polite, be humble, and keep to you…”
The Devil Carlos strolls up to Angel Carlos, throat punches him and kicks him off. “Yeah right! Drink like a bastard, be loud and proud, chase after breezies, and I might think about keeping you from being injured, maimed, killed, mugged, or arrested!”
GAME ON, BITCHES!!
A smirk washes over my face, it’s a devilish grin my sister knows oh-too-well. WCP’s eyebrows furrow, “Lamp (her nickname for me, that’s even a longer story!), what are you thinking about?”
“Oh? Hm. Nothing,” I casually reply.
“Oh, fuck. We’re all in trouble, aren’t we?” WCP cries.
“If we’re lucky! Look at it this way, you only live once but if you do it right… that’s all you need, baby!” I punch the air for dramatic flare.
WCP sighs, “Famous last words.”
[Later. In the Park & Ride]
A couple of players roll up to me. “Hey, aren’t you the drunk guy that has seats behind us?”
I shrug, “Depends.”
The 2nd guy, “He sits in our row, jackass.”
I thrust out my hand, “I’m Carlos, by the way. Who are you two?”
“I’m Ben. This is ‘drew. Andrew that is.”
I have a good feeling I’ll be seeing these guys again in not in the same sobriety state. Dad, WCP, and I scan the parking lot.
We need to figure out which bus will have one of those kegs of beer to supplement the 6 pack we have of Fremont Summer Ale. We are giddy as school children as we board the Rosales #10 bus.
WCP and I think this is ironic [as in the song Isn’t It Ironic, not funny ha-ha] because we recently made a drinking game about Rosales, the soccer player, for home matches and whenever he hits the pitch [again, another story for later]
The bus starts rolling down the highway for a scant minutes when we realized ALL THE BUSES HAVE KEGS! Sweet mother of Jesus, we’re in trouble. Then the cooler of margarita mix. Hm. Let the drinking begin.
And then Jell-O shots. And food was passed out and shared with the riders.
Oy. More beer (No Equal) in my red Solo cup. I fill you up. Oh, and you need a shot of Jameson into that, sir. WTF, poured from a Cuervo bottle that’s crossed out with a Sharpie. Oh my god, this is hilarious. Cupcakes are given, then Salvadorian bites to nosh on.
I stammer, Where are we?
Oh, you need some strawberry moonshine, ‘los. I do? Singing erupts! Pick me, pick me! I know the words and loud and proud too.
I’m packing a major buzz already. I can’t feel my face, or lips.
So, ‘los … wanna a strawberry that’s been soaking in moonshine foreverness. Why the f not? I’m in this deep right? Go EPIC or go home! Or alternatively, go EPIC, then go home. A maniacal laughter erupts out of me.
I peer over to WCP and Dad who are sitting together.
I mentally ask, Where are we? I survey the landscape and determine we’re outside of Marysville, yo.
Hm. We’re stopping… at a rest stop. There’s a mass exodus for the door. Is the son-of-a-bitch on fire?
I leave the bus, too. The ECS gathers it’s troops around the three kegs (one from each bus) They declare it’s time for keg stands!!
Well… I haven’t done one of those in my lifetime. Wonder how I sign up? I bet if I participate / assist with the first couple they’ll naturally assume I want to do the same.
As I’m hanging upside down wondering if the five men it took to stabilize me, how am I gonna do this? F it. I’ll figure it out or die trying. I draw my brew, and more brew and more. Finally, I couldn’t hold myself anymore, plus drink more upside down.
I stand on my feet triumphantly. I raise my arms, WIN FOR ME! The crowd applauses the performance.
Sweet. Where’s Dad? Where’s WCP? Did anyone get photos of that epic behavior? I find Ben and Andrew amongst the crowd of drinking, singing, smoke bombs (is there a riot?) The bus captains start barking out to board the bus. CHURCH ON THE MOVE!!
I stumble onboard. It was time for a self-interview with my life-proof camera that I called Lumi. I didn’t realize that Devil Carlos had done this until the next day as I was downloading the videos and photos from the experience.
The ECS has managed to cattle car us drunk monkeys onto buses not only once, but twice. Our Rosales bus captain asked, no one left behind. Or if you aren’t here, raise your hand.” He grinned. He realized half-way that he didn’t know where he was going with that.
We’re at the border in a seemingly surprising amount of time. Happens when you’re having fun and not paying attention. The music stops, the drinking stops, the singing stops. Time to be serious!
All the buses managed to clear customs just fine. We arrive at BC Place without incident. In fact, all of us entered BC Place without a hitch. I tip my cap to the ECS management. Good on you, ECS.
Then the match is finally here! We came to drink, we came to sing, whoa, whoa… Whitecaps score almost immediately. Shit. 1-0. C’mon Seattle!
[Beyond half time]
Whitecaps score again, 2-0. Doesn’t seem to diminish the spirit or the singing of the ECS.
Love these guys. I hope they realize there is a match going on. Dad, WCP and I do the same: we sing, we drink, we cheer. With keep digging mentality, we will show ECS and Vancouver we can rock this shit for more than just 90 minutes! We’re gonna do this the whole trip!
[End of the match – Sounders lose]
Kinda of bummer, but we trudge back onto the bus. After all that I described above, it’s no wonder I’m about to have a chunder shower (get sick) Mostly a migraine that threatens to rip my skull into two. GRRR! That’s really crunking up my high, yo. Then I get nauseated from the monster headache. BLAH! We get to the border quickly, I need air. The bus captains have a concerned look on their faces.
“Are you gonna be alright?”
“No,” I grunt flatly. Don’t think they were expecting that!
“Are you gonna be sick?”
“Yes.” I grab the bus garbage can and inch my way to the bus entrance. I realize the shitstorm that’ll happen if I depart the bus sooner than instructed but my body has different ideas.
I spy with my eye the bus driver Pam walking back. Shit. I’m gonna be aisle salmon in a hot second if I don’t return to my seat, which I did successfully. By some miracle or the work of my dearly departed mother, I made through Canadian Customs without so much as an eyebrow raise. Or maybe but I was shit-hammered (highest level of intoxication possible)
On the bus, an angel of mercy gave my lil’ sister some Advil as well as I. I passed out for a grip, then woke up because we were arriving at the Northgate P&R some 12 plus hours later.
If I wasn’t a Sounders FC fan or ECS fan before the trip, I definitely am now! The feeling of community, warmth and concern was outright, which I can say is something I’ve searching for quite some time.
Some ECS members that were on the bus reached out the next day to check in on good old Carlos, to see if I was aiight. I was thankfully.
One ECS post was, “If you thought that was epic, then I guess we’ll be seeing you on the Portland bus to chop some Timbers huh?”