A Brief Sermon to the Converted on Away Support

I have, in the past, used this space to rail against the regressive policies of the Vancouver Whitecaps, Portland Timbers, and Seattle Sounders regarding away supporters at their games. Each team gets 500 tickets to the others' stadium, to distribute as they see fit: in Seattle and Portland by selling them directly to die-hard supporters and in Vancouver by selling them to a travel agency. The fans are ordered into the stadium hours early and allowed out well after the game, are required to arrive en masse rather than at their leisure, and are generally treated like minimum-security prisoners.

A few weeks ago, fans of the Portland Timbers traveled to Qwest Field and enlivened the entire week of Major League Soccer by matching their passion with that of the Seattle Sounders fans. Even the game rose to the occasion. It would take a real steel heart to say that wasn't a great day for Major League Soccer. Today, the Vancouver Whitecaps and their fans aim to do the same thing and there's no reason to believe they won't succeed.

There's no point in once again rambling about how much I dislike the current system of allocating away tickets. It's too late for it to do any good anyway.

I will say this, however. I have remarkably little to say about the game, which is exactly what meets the eye. When my game day thread arrives, I'll say what I can. What really matters, though, is the fans. Fans are the lifeblood of soccer. It's the support of people like you and me that makes the Cascadia Cup so meaningful, our teams so exciting, and this game so worthwhile.

Someday, these 500 tickets might be 1,500. Front offices will realize that away supporters will buy tickets at full price, they'll buy souvenirs, they'll buy beer. They'll sing and chant and roar and make the home fans more likely to come out. They'll make your stadium look like the greatest place in the world, and they'll draw fans even to the games that don't mean anything. All it takes is a little proof from those 500 Whitecaps fans in Seattle.

This is a very early chapter in a very long book. But I like to think I know where it ends.

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