Best Fans in MLS? Social Media Outburst Shows Seattle Fans' True Colors
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There is a bit of confusion for every MLS fan outside of Seattle.
Does having the largest average attendance in a stadium that was built for NFL football make your fans "the best?"
There's no doubt that the vocal sea of green has created a exciting spectacle of viewing in the high-definition sports age, and Major League Soccer could not be more thrilled.
But at what point did we stop using class as a factor in determining anything about fans?
Remember the "Malice in the Palace" when Ron Artest went and attacked a fan in the crowd during an NBA game in 2004? Although Artest was clearly in the wrong, it has scared the image of Detroit Piston fans immeasurably.
Seattle fans were upset about not winning, and to any fan, losing and being unhappy is understandable. But the outcry on social media following the Sounders penalty shootout loss against Sporting Kansas City in the US Open Cup set a new standard for classlessness.
Just how bad was it? Here are just a sample of the comments left on Major League Soccer's Facebook page (next slide).
The Facebook Comments
Photo by unknown
"Worst refereeing I have ever seen in my life and I've watched my fair share of games. I'm fine with a loss if the other team earned it, but I'm not okay with the referee straight up giving them the win. MLS will continue to be a joke if we allow clowns like Salazar to continue to ref the game." - Hailey Woodward, Oceanside, CA
"Any pics of Salazar tossing a few back with the SKC front office and it's related staff / team?" - Brandon Paisley, Everett, WA
"It is not about any of that! It is about a ref who was so prejudiced or bought off that he allowed too much to go on. And then the last goal! The last two goals were identical. One got a replay but the Sounders didn't and they were identical! The Sounders were ripped off!" - Molly Day, unknown
"Any pictures of the money handoff from the SKC owner to Salazar?" - Joseph Sensback, Seattle, WA
"Seattle was not allowed to play football/soccer period... If kansas thought they could beat us they would have played the game like they had all season....it seems that their intent to not play the game and play he officials was evident in the first 15 minutes...." - Alan S. Powell, unknown
"Besides, no comment from any Wizzard fan about the photos? You don't like proof? It's a cheap win and there is no way it feels right. So, now the Wizard faithful will attack and overcompensate for the hollow victory." - Ryan Petitt, unknown
So just what was it about the game, and more specifically the referee Salazar that Seattle fans are having the issue with?
The Handball Call
Anytime as a referee you are going to make the decision to make a handball call for a penalty kick, it needs to be inside the box, and either intentional or when any part of the arm drastically effects the chance of a scoring opportunity.
Which is exactly what happened.
Seattle fans are furious over this call, but perhaps that emotion would be quenched with a little common sense.
Teal Bunbury attempts to serve a cross into Graham Zusi who has a wide open lane almost straight in front of the goal.
Bunbury's service was headed right for Zusi, when Seattle player Patrick Ianni hits the ball with his arm, and sends the ball off-course from its intended path, a clear violation.
Seattle fans however, do not see this. A Seattle fan version will describe Ianni's contact with the ball as accidental, and inconsequential to the play, which as anyone can clearly see is not the case.
And sorry, just because the GolTV commentator, who wasn't looking at the play, didn't know what happened, does not validate the Seattle cause. Zusi called out the handball immediately.
But this is only one part of their argument.
Seattle Goalkeeper Violation
With Sporting Kansas City's final penalty kick, Paulo Nagamura's shot was stopped by Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, who was judged to have come "off his line" (advancing forward) to save the kick.
A picture has been circulating social media that Seattle fans insist shows complete injustice. The photo, seen here on Twitter account "racethetrain," shows Gspurning and Kansas City's keeper Jimmy Nielsen at roughly the same distance from the goal on back-to-back shots taken.
The only problem, and one that Seattle fans are having a hard time dealing with, is this picture shows the ball when it has just come off the foot of the penalty taker.
Both keepers in the picture are at a distance off the line that is not in violation of the rules.
However, as the video clearly shows, Nielsen advances to the side to save the penalty kick from Seattle's Christain Tiffert. Gspurning advances forward.
It is the two calls shown that have Seattle fans in a complete uproar about the result.
Seattle suffered its first ever loss in U.S. Open Cup competition in the 2012 final.
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
Seattle lost a very close game. The same way that other fans around MLS have been excited to see the enthusiasm in Seattle, Sounders fans are not reciprocating the same affection.
In the thread that the quotes came from, not one Seattle fan offered congratulations or even said "good game."
The videos and analysis have proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that not only are Seattle's claims of an unfairly officiated game completely baseless, but that Sporting Kansas City won one of the grittiest soccer games in American history.
Emotions were high, and being passionate is understandable. But in this case, passion has clouded judgement, and it's been cracked open like an egg for every other MLS fan to see.