America or bust! The things soccer supporters do for love

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One of the best elements of MLS expansion over the past few years – the league was a paltry 10 teams as recently as eight years back – is the shrinking distance between clubs.

A footprint that now includes 18 cities (19 teams) across North America means fans from City X are more frequently closer to fans from City Y.

And that means shared travel adventure becomes more plausible.

Nowhere do we find the pulsating dynamic of visiting fans (it really does add so much to the atmosphere at the grounds) more than in Major League Soccer’s Pacific Northwest triangle, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver.

Last week, before the latest Cascadia Cup encounter, busloads of fans from Vancouver boarded in predawn hours to breach the border in hope of watching their team play in Seattle.

But as we know, the best laid schemes of mice and soccer-loving men go often awry, leaving nothing but grief and pain – especially when your team takes a 2-0 beat down to your detested rivals.

All for promised joy.

But there was a happy ending to this lengthy dispatch. (Yes, “lengthy,” but well worth the read.) It’s one man’s tale of the bus trip across the border, the plan, the painful unraveling of events, the booze, the mistakes born of booze and the shared adventure of it all.

Samples of the humorous greatness of this tale:

Our hosts for this journey were Southsiders VP Brett Graham and Southsiders Club Secretary Peter Czimmermann. Peter got on the microphone and laid out the house rules for the [bus] journey:

“Rule #1 – Do not slam the bathroom door or it will lock. Rule #2 – Do not do number two in the bathroom. Rule #3 – Do not use the bathroom!”

There is also a great paragraph about Vancouver Whitecaps ambassador Carl Valentine, who boarded one of the busses during a long delay. Well done, sir.

And this, after a recon party was dispatched ahead for provisions to take the edge off said, long delay for the self-described “overly taxed Canadians:”

Southsider: “Hey I only ordered 12 beers and you gave me 18!”

Brett: “That’s because it was only 50 cents more for the 18!”

God Bless America!

This tale is what being an MLS fan is all about. Enjoy.

(Thanks to the blog Sounder at Heart for the tip on this one. Keep up the great work, guys.)