SEATTLE, Germany -- Oh, sorry.

SEATTLE, United States -- You can understand the confusion.

Not only did the 40,487 in a mighty soccer city greet the first U.S. goal so vociferously that it lent the press box a tremor that seemed to wreak little ripples in the water bottle.

Not only did these people sound downright European.

No, the once-muddled U.S. team played in a manner so free and lovely that you might wonder if we soon might join the ranks of the snooty nationalities that expect victories and harrumph when those victories aren't beautiful enough.

The best guess on that: Nah.

Still, here's the American defender Brad Evans: "Tonight there were moments when I was like, 'This is really, really good football.' The one-touch passes, the movement off the ball ..."

Clint Dempsey himself said beforehand that a soccer night in Seattle last Saturday made him feel almost "like I was in another country," and a Tuesday night upheld that notion, both around and upon the pitch.

The seventh-largest audience to date in the U.S. World Cup qualifying annals, the first Seattle audience for a U.S. national team in 36 years, sang. And sang. And sang. "We all were able to experience something special: the atmosphere, the noise ... ," midfield pilot Michael Bradley said. "We all by now have heard about what it's like to play here and the passion this city has for soccer. And I think in a way they outdid themselves. For us as players it makes such a difference, makes such a difference to walk on the field where the crowd is American and the crowd was into it."

The caliber of the crowd dwarfed even the disquiet of the grass, a controversial element overlaid upon unwanted artificial turf. In the end the grass intruded graphically only once, in the 22nd minute, when a patriotic blade upended Panama's Carlos Rodriguez as he dribbled alone threateningly on the left edge of the box as if prepped to cross.

At CenturyLink Field, they tend to extol the 12th man.

In this case, they seemed to benefit from the 12th sod.

They didn't even need it on this fresh plateau of a night. Even if you accept, as Evans stressed, that each game differs from the others, with the 2-1 win last Friday in Jamaica as evidence of grinding survival, here was a lofty American night.

It's not just that the U.S. bobbed to the top of the six-nation race toward Brazil 2014, with 10 points to eight for Mexico and Costa Rica (with a game in hand versus Mexico). It's not just that Mexico languished in a goalless draw with Costa Rica after which Mexican fans chanted for the dismissal of the Mexican manager (a melodrama which, of course, could always be enviably fun). It's not just that, since the lid-lifting loss in Honduras on February 6, the U.S. has won three matches and drawn one, with the draw in Mexico City, thus pretty much a victory. It's not just the 2-0 infliction in Seattle of a first Hexagonal loss on a gritty Panama squad. It's not just that the veteran's veteran DaMarcus Beasley said, "If we come out of this (three-game) stretch with nine points after next Tuesday that'll be huge for us going forward." And it's not just that a team that veered into peril last fall in the previous qualifying round seems to have found a fresh rung of prowess.

It's how the whole apparatus looked for a night.

seattle_crowd
More than 40,000 fans cheered the U.S. on in Seattle. (USA TODAY Sports)
The two goals included a counterattack concerto and a pass from the sky. Both majored in quality. Both flattered Geoff Cameron, the midfield replacement for the concussed Jermaine Jones. As manager Jurgen Klinsmann put it, "Was a huge performance by Cameron for us."

On the first on 36 minutes, Cameron invaded Panama possession, discontinued it and reversed it, feeding the ball to Bradley, who stormed through the middle as what DaMarcus Beasley calls "our quarterback." Bedlam -- and tremor -- came after he fed to Fabian Johnson, whose cross from the left toward anybody waiting on the right skittered so far in front of goalkeeper Jaime Penedo that Penedo did look lost. Once it reached Jozy Altidore on the right, the finish looked emphatic.

On the second on 53 minutes, Cameron shipped a pass from just about midfield, toward Eddie Johnson on the right inside the box. By the time this marvel reached Johnson and Johnson emerged onside behind Rodriguez, Johnson needed only to use the left foot to poke it past a hapless Penedo.

Even if the match had not included a delectable exchange between Altidore and Dempsey on the right (at 78 minutes), upon which Dempsey's touch skittered wide left, or a breathtaking five-player sequence from which Altidore wound up feeding Beasley and Beasley wound up hitting the left post (at 79 minutes), rave reviews beckoned.

"Was really a complete performance from everyone involved," Klinsmann said.

The muddled team has become the happy team and as to why, in classic sports form, Evans said, "I don't know if there's a real good answer for that." He cited good practices. He cited productive meetings between collaborative players.

He might have noted that while it might have seemed otherworldly, for a night it seemed merely like some other nation. You might call it Seattle.