As much as his lingering doubts want to convince him otherwise, Adrian Hanauer knows what's about to take place Sunday and the numbers aren't lies.
Hanauer is the majority owner of the popular Seattle Sounders but sometimes can't let go of his early struggles with the club. That was back in the early 2000s when the Sounders were playing in a second-tier league before mostly empty seats, and Hanauer would find himself driving around practically begging fans to show up.
So, he might be excused for struggling to fully grasp that his team will be playing for a Major League Soccer title in its home stadium for the first time when the Sounders face Toronto FC in the MLS Cup final. More than 69,000 fans are expected Sunday. Tickets sold out in a matter of minutes, and prices on the secondary market are rivaling those normally associated with championship games in bigger sports leagues.
"My friends know that every game I stand on the field or sit in the stands wondering if this is the game where people will stop going, stop showing up," said Hanauer, whose team won its only MLS Cup title on the road in 2016. "It's probably that a little bit of that sense of paranoia is one of the qualities in me that helps me push and drive and hopefully strive for success and excellence.
"But to see the response, I didn't know whether we'd sell out, whether we'd be trying to sell the last few tickets later this week or whether it would sell out immediately. I just didn't have a sense for it. So, to see the overwhelming demand is definitely a testament to what the Sounders mean in the community."
Long considered one of soccer's hotbeds in North America, the stage is all Seattle's for this week.