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Seattle Sounders FC: A Lesson on Duality

TUKWILA, Wash. -- Sandwiched in between two high-profile Copa America games in Seattle was Wednesday's Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup clash between Seattle Sounders FC and the nearby Kitsap Pumas.

The match definitely lacked the star power of Argentina's Messi, Ecuador's Antonio Valencia, or even USA's Clint Dempsey. Instead, the biggest name on the field was Herculez Gomez, fresh off an impressive stint as an analyst for the Copa America.

In many ways, it was everything the Copa isn't. Where we get the corporate big box that is CenturyLink Field for the Copa and most Sounders game, Wednesday's game took us to the scenic Starfire Sports Complex in a nearby suburb.

Starfire isn't an MLS-quality venue in that it doesn't have the seating capacity, the access via public transportation, or any of the other amenities that CenturyLink does.

But it does have soul. For every game you sit through with long lines, late-arriving fans, early-exiting fans, overpriced tickets, and insane beer prices, you get a few nights at Starfire too.

Just 3,515 attended the 2-0 victory, and most of the national media avoided the game, but the other 40,000 or so who normally pack CenturyLink missed out.

The atmosphere was relaxed, but loud. Fans wrapped around the sidelines, standing just feet from some of their favorite players if they wanted. Kids rushed to the adjacent practice fields at halftime to juggle and pass the ball. Beer vendors sold local brews from tapped up coolers.

When I see the "support local football" shirts, this is what I picture in my mind -- just a community enjoying a nice, chill night of soccer.

There aren't 44,000 screaming fans blowing out your ears for 90 minutes, but there also aren't any of the hassles associated with the corporate direction soccer in this country is going in.

And there's value in that.

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