Sweet, sweet Halloween. A night of ghouls and howls, warlocks and witches; the heroic, the glamorous; the occasional neutered vampire with the equally brain-dead Bella by his side. The spooky fog, the sticky webs, the mysterious punch that knocks you into the first day of November with hardly a memory of how you got there.
I do love Halloween and, in the last week, the Belles have provided you with a diversity of events and ideas to celebrate: how to make your own costume, the Fremont Masquerade, how to make your own costume redux, the Seattle 2010 Zombie Festival. I’m here to offer you yet another option with regard to how you spend your holiday evening: Dress up as your favorite Sounder and march to Qwest Field for the Sounders as they play in the first leg of the MLS Semifinals!
Or dress up as whatever you want. I’m going to be Batgirl. Although I may forgo the boots with the super-high heels since I will be standing for the full 90 minutes. It’s a dilemma.
You might also think that this is terrible, terrible timing. A soccer game on the evening of October 31st? It’s hard to disagree but, let’s face it, there are going to be bevies of Sounders season ticket-holders who will be unable to attend because their children are determined to stuff themselves silly with candy. You can take advantage of their absence – and their tickets – by purchasing them on the Sounders FC website when they go on sale on October 21st at 10AM. Oh, you bet I have my alarm ready for that. Seriously, what were you gonna do that was more interesting?
Now, Ceci recently mentioned that she finds soccer to be confusing, especially given how many leagues the Sounders currently participate in. I will endeavor to clear up this matter now, in the hopes that you will continue to stew on the idea of attending the Sounders game on Halloween rather than rejecting the idea out of hand.
The mechanics of soccer are surely quite simple, but for the sake of clarity: The soccer season runs from March to November of every year. Each individual game lasts 90 minutes and is divided into two halves. During the game, 11 players appear on the field, including a keeper, who is also referred to as a goalkeeper or goalie or Kasey Keller or Terry Boss, if you stand by the best team in the world. These two teams troop onto a field (or pitch) and there is much kicky-kicky. In order to score goals, ye rounde ball must be directed into ye rectangular net at the end of the field. Use of one’s hands in accomplishing this feat is forbidden. Despite the strictures against it, there is often a great deal of pushing, shoving, elbowing, punching, slapping, spitting, groining, high-kicking, and cleating (the use of one’s soccer cleats against a vulnerable part of your opponent, like his face or leg or balls…provided such things are present in the opposing team).
The primary American league, of which the Sounders are a part, is normally referred to as the MLS, or Major League Soccer. These are American soccer clubs that you’ll likely see playing the most on ESPN, the standings and list of which you can see here, on the Sounders’ website.
It’s clear that this is an American league because every other country on the face of the planet refers to the sport of “soccer” as “football” and our sport of “football” as “American football.” Got it?
In MLS, each soccer team will play 36 games over the course of the 2011 season. Now this may not seem like much to you, but I’m not done.
In addition to the MLS, the Sounders also participate in the Lamar US Open Cup, the final of which was the game that Ceci and I attended a couple of weeks ago. You might say the Open Cup is similar to the World Cup, except for the part where it’s played every year, it’s the oldest soccer tournament in America, and it’s confined to American teams: Every American soccer team is eligible to play in the Open Cup. The team who wins this Open Cup establishes its grand golden supremacy over all other soccer teams in the land. The Sounders have done this twice since their inception two years ago. They get a trophy, medallions, and a rather tidy sum of money for winning. And winning again.
But that’s just the American leagues. There is also the CONCACAF Champions League, in which the Sounders also compete. CONCACAF is the Confederation of North, Central American, and Caribbean Association Futbol. The leading teams in these regions compete to proclaim their sun-high supremacy over all the soccer teams on the continent. The Sounders, as the American champions, are naturally eligible to play in this league.
Then there are the friendlies. These are exhibitions games between two teams, where the outcome of the match has no bearing, points-wise, on any of the leagues that either team participates in. They can be extremely useful, however, as they are often used to test the strategies and skill of the team. And, again in our case, it gives our players a chance to play against international teams of undeniably more experience and of (arguably) higher caliber.
Still with me? Great. Here’s the plan:
Sunday, October 31
2PM: Put on costume and join the rave green, scarf-clad masses downtown for a drink or two. (I’ve been urged to start drinking at 1:30PM, but I really am a little fella). March to the match? Quite possibly.
5PM: Be AT Qwest Field to watch the Sounders kick:
- the Galaxy back to pollution-ridden L.A.
- Real Salt Lake back to their angry wives.
- Columbus Crew back to…Columbus, Ohio, isn’t that punishment enough?
Stand, shout, sing, and consume more beer.
9PM: Premiere of The Walking Dead on AMC. Spend the rest of the night alert for any sign of zombies.
Monday, November 1
6AM: Wake to guzzle down water in order to prevent hangover from taking hold.
7AM: Begin National Novel Writing Month, which I’ll tell you about next week. ^_~