SEATTLE - OCTOBER 15: Osvaldo Alonso #6 of the Seattle Sounders FC is hugged by Blaise Nkufo #9 after scoring a goal against Chivas USA on October 15 2010 at Qwest Field in Seattle Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Dear Seattle Sounders,
I know I've been a bit rough on you this season. I know I've criticized your coach, your tactics, your individual inabilities. But now is not the time to harp on mistakes. Instead, today I say thank you.
Thank you, Seattle Sounders, for allowing me to follow a sport that I love in what was practically my backyard. Walking to the match surrounded by others in Rave Green, sharing post-game drinks with other supporters while either reminiscing or commiserating, standing and cheering in unison-all reasons why every city needs a soccer club.
Thank you, also, for opening your doors and allowing me inside, not just as a fan, but as a member of the press. The opportunity to be more in tune with the workings of the club certainly helps inform my writing, which in term helps inform the Seattle fanbase. Plus, the little girl who hoped to be a baseball announcer is truly having her dreams come true, walking Qwest Field and speaking to some of her favorite athletes (Sometimes. When she has a good question. Ok, she'll be better at this next year).
Thank you, Seattle, for caring about the U.S. Open Cup. Trophies do matter, and those who deny that they do are simply making excuses. Silverware brings revenue to the club but, even more importantly, sends a chill up supporters' backs when they watch their team hoist the shiny cup.
Thank you for the young signings, and for the glimpses we've seen of them. Mike Fucito, Mike Seamon, Miguel Montaño, and David Estrada have all provided moments of brilliance, adding to a team with arguably the best depth in the league (except in defense, but we're staying positive today).
Thank you, Sounders, for signing Álvaro Fernández. His passing, vision and speed cause me to wear my "I Heart Uruguay Fútbol" shirt with pride. You've opened the door for other, younger players, starting their career rather than finishing it, to come to Major League Soccer.
But still, thank you for signing Blaise Nkufo. He may fit in to the traditional Designated Player mold, but the former FC Twente man provides an excellent complement to Fredy Montero. Besides, his hat-trick against Columbus Crew was easily one of the top moments of the season.
And, of course, thank you for Fredy Montero. Seattle's own trequartista has had a fantastic season, displaying a cunning and creativity not often found in the league. As the rest of the team learns how to best play to Montero's abilities-Fernández and Montero have already found a fantastic partnership-the young Columbian will only continue to improve. Sign this man to the third designated player spot. Now.
But most of all, Seattle Sounders, thanks for giving us hope. Prior to the summer break, the Sounders had almost zero chance of making the MLS playoffs. The personnel choices made in the summer, as well as Osvaldo Alonso's recovery, brought forth a team with the best second-half performance of any club in the league. In its second season in Major League Soccer, Seattle Sounders won the U.S. Open Cup for the second year straight, and made it to the playoffs for the second season running. This is a team not only to support but to absolutely love, and that, Seattle, is what I thank you for most.