photos by Krista Pittiglio
CLICK HERE TO VIEW SOUNDERS' VIDEO OF THE EVENT.
(Sep 19, 2016) Wednesday's practice at Preston for two Eastside FC G08 teams, coached by Jan Smisek and Katie Stone, started off like any other practice. The plan was for the two teams to scrimmage each other on Mod field #1, starting, as usual, at 5:00 pm. Players from EFC's G04 and '05 teams were refereeing.
Before kick-off, however, the two teams were focused on their coaches giving pre-game instructions, distracted from the goings-on behind them. But then, "Sound Wave began playing and came marching into Preston Park from behind the trees!" said Coach Smisek. "They were followed by the (appropriately named) Eastside Supporters with signs and flags like in a Sounders pre-game March to the Match, and Chad Marshall and Brad Evans were marching in with them. While the girls' jaws dropped and eyes were as big as pies, the red carpet was rolled out and the American flag placed at midfield."
Evans and Marshall announced they would be coaching the teams; Dr. Stephen Newby was there to lead the referees, players and coaches onto the field. The Sounders' PA announcer introduced the starting lineups as the girls were led onto the field. Dr. Newby led everyone in singing the National Anthem, and then the game kicked off. JUST LIKE A REAL SOUNDERS FC MATCH! Preston was instantly converted into Century Link on Sounders Game Day. The sudden ruckus distracted the other teams practicing nearby, and they joined in to become fans, chanting and dancing to the music and adding to the fun and raucous atmosphere. "It was quite spectacular," says Smisek.
At halftime Evans and Marshall selected two moms from the crowd to participate in a Hit-the-Crossbar Challenge.
At the end of the game Evans and Marshall asked the girls for their autographs, and, of course, the girls had their post-game interviews just like Sounders players do...
"Brad and Chad were kind enough to try to give autographs and take photos with all of the EFC kids that swarmed the field afterward," Smisek added. "The Sounders Event Staff made sure every little detail was covered so the experience was complete. From beginning to end they did everything just like a real Sounders Match Day."
For young soccer players and Sounders fans at any age, it doesn't get much better than that.