For the four years that I've been covering Real Salt Lake, I've watched home matches from the outdoor press box at Rio Tinto Stadium.
It's located on the fourth floor of the stadium, almost directly behind the visiting team bench, nestled between the opponent's television and radio booths.
From a writer's perspective, it's a near-perfect place to watch the match.
The high position gives a chance to overlook the entire playing surface, allowing you to keep tabs on things both and off the ball, note where players tend to roam, and gives you a fairly clear idea of tactics and formation.
It also gives you a chance to see not just the entirety of the playing surface, but the technical areas of the pitch too, where you can see players warming up in anticipation of a substitution, reactions from the team benches, and other key interactions.
Last week, when Salt Lake hosted Philadelphia, I got a chance to change things up for a little while and see the stadium -- and a match -- from a different perspective.
One of my good friends, Rick Walker, has a pair of season tickets on the north end of the stadium in Section 30, just a few rows off the field. With the match being on a Wednesday, his traditional match-day companion wasn't able to come due to work commitments, so I decided that it might be fun to watch part of a match for a while from the stands.
I had never been in the stands at Rio Tinto before, and as funny as it sounds, I didn't quite know what to expect.
The first thing I noticed was people, people, people.
Sitting up in the press box, it's not hard to see that Real draws large home crowds, but being down in the stands, in the middle of it was something else entirely.
The crowd truly is the beating heart of Rio Tinto Stadium, and it was actually quite amazing to see it up close.
From the chants, to the attentiveness of the crowd to the action on the field, the stands just crackle with a type of energy and enthusiasm that is both welcome and unique.
Even after Salt Lake conceded an early goal to the Union, forcing the home side to play from behind, the energy level didn't fade. If anything, it continued to increase as the crowd tried to bring together their energy to rally the players on the field.
The other key observation I saw was just how fast the match appears to move.
From the high vantage point of the box, it's usually quite easy to see plays fully develop, to see runs and gaps for the attack, but sitting so close to the field, especially on the endline, everything felt so much faster.
On one particular play, an RSL attack in the first half, the ball moved around in the box several times before it was parried away by the Union goalkeeper. It was a sequence that truly made me appreciate just how fast a defense's reaction time has to be.
My only real regret was heading back up to the press box around the hour mark, just before the wild finish, including Real's dramatic last-gasp equalizer, truly whipped the crowd into a frenzy.
In fact, leaving the match after, I couldn't help but feel a little jealous of the fans who get that experience every week.
You can follow Justin Johnson on Twitter at: @jjohnson801 or email him at email@example.com.