Category Archives: NASL Sounders

Features regarding the NASL Sounders era (1974-83)

And Sometimes You Draw

Midway through Bull Durham, pitching protégé Nuke LaLoosh scrambles up the bus aisle, bellowing his newfound appreciation for learning. He’s in the midst of a winning streak and finds it addictive.

“I love winning,” he exclaims in the ear of mentor Crash Davis. “You know what I’m saying? It’s like better than losing.”

Moments later Crash begins a crash course lesson on baseball clichés, among them, “Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. And sometimes it rains.”

Not all draws are equal, evidenced by the added time comeback in Portland early in the unbeaten run. (Courtesy Sounders FC/Charis Wilson)

If ever they flip the premise to futbol (the reverse of Jimmy Fallon’s Fever Pitch), that particular cliché will require reworking. When it comes to the Simplest Game it’s a little more complicated. More like: “Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. And sometimes you draw.”

The latter fact is all too topical at the moment in Sounderland. By match day in Utah versus RSL it will have been more than a month since the Sounders lost. Or won.

Fit to be Tied

Continue reading And Sometimes You Draw

One Game’s Profound Legacy

Forty years on, it remains a remarkable match. Not only did it captivate American soccer’s growing audience of the day and provide a fairytale finish for a global legend, Soccer Bowl ’77 also cast the pathway, for better or worse, for a club and a country seeking to development a professional presence.

For those who witnessed the NASL final between the glamorous New York Cosmos and unfashionable (outside Cascadia) yet fearless Seattle Sounders, it left an indelible mark on the memory. Just a glimpse of the video or photos awakens the senses.

Among the Cosmos’ superstars, Franz Beckenbauer was the reigning Ballon d’Or winner in Soccer Bowl ’77.

Of course, there was the epic backdrop: a gray, late summer Sunday afternoon, Portland’s Civic Stadium crammed full of 35,548 spectators, some sitting cross-legged on the artificial turf, just a few feet from the field’s boundaries.

There is the ‘Oh, no!’ moment of a partially deaf Sounders keeper being fleeced of the ball for the game’s opening goal. There is the rapid reply of Seattle to equalize, the relentless pressure and the sheer openness–rarely found in a final–that leads to dozens of chances (22 shots on target, two others by Seattle off the frame itself). And there is the chaotic scene at the final whistle, the crowd streaming onto the pitch and the shirtless Pelé running and hugging his teammates.

Simply Unforgettable Continue reading One Game’s Profound Legacy

Seattle vs Vancouver: By the Numbers (NASL Era, 1974-82)

NASL Era – Sounders vs Whitecaps (1974-83)

League – 25 Meetings

Home (form): 5-6-1 GD: 17-16 [WWWWLLWLLLL(TL)]

Away: 2-10-1 GD: 14-28 [WLLLLLL(TL)WLLLL]

Total: 7-16-2 GD: 31-44 [WWLLWWLLWLLLL(TL)WWLLLLLLL(TL)L]

 

Playoffs – 4 Meetings

Home: 2-0-0 GD 4-1 [WW]

Away: 2-0-0 GD: 4-1 [WW]

Total: 4-0-0 GD: 8-2 [WWWW]

 

Other – 2 Meetings (EuroPac Cup)

Home: None

Away: 1-0-1 GD: 3-2 [DW]

Total: 1-0-1 GD: 3-2 [DW]

 

Extremes

Record Win: 3-0, Memorial Stadium, 7/19/1975

Record Defeat: 5-0, Empire Stadium, 8/12/1981

Record Total Goals: 5, Vancouver 3:2 Seattle, 8/13/1976; Vancouver 2:3 Seattle, 5/2/1981; Vancouver 5:0 Seattle, 8/12/1981; Vancouver 3:2 Seattle, 8/28/1983

Doubles (win home & away same season): 1/5

 

Individual Leaders Continue reading Seattle vs Vancouver: By the Numbers (NASL Era, 1974-82)

Becoming A Sounder for Life

To understand one fan’s fixation on the 1977 Sounders, chat-up a Mariners diehard born in the playoff drive of ’95. Or the Sonics reversal of ’78 or Seahawks’ ascension of ’83.

There have always been fans, vociferous fans, surrounding the Sound. Especially early on, they became enamored with any team courageous enough to stitch ‘Seattle’ on their chest. They go to games, they make a lot of noise and develop their favorite performers.

I was there, somewhere in that mass of humanity, at the Kingdome on Aug. 25, 1977 (Frank MacDonald Collection)

Yet when the stakes are raised and a potential title comes into sight, suddenly the relationship elevates to an emotional level bordering on kinship. Fervor takes hold. And at that point, it’s no longer casual; it’s a lifetime commitment. And so it was in the summer of ’77, for me and the Sounders.

Forty Years in the Making

This coming Sunday evening, some fellow Boomers will wax nostalgic as a few choice idols from our youth stride between the lines once more on Occidental. Ten in all, among them Davey Butler, Dave Gillett, Adrian Webster and their coaches, Jimmy Gabriel and Bobby Howe. It’s now been 40 years to the month since they took the city by storm.

Much like the ’95 midseason M’s, by June of 1977 Gabriel’s lads looked mediocre. A 3-nil defeat at Portland sank them to 4-7.

At just about the time everyone was writing off that team’s postseason prospects, Gabriel pulled the trigger on a deadline trade, acquiring a nondescript journeyman while effectively sending a longtime fan favorite (Butler) to the bench. Often times, however, it’s the subtleties that can produce pure magic.

No Ord-inary Tommy

Soon enough, their new everyman striker, Tommy Ord, became a local lord, sensationally achieving the club’s first hat trick to open his account. And Butler, who’d been mired in a two-month scoring drought, would spring to life as a supersub, scoring four times.

Sounders captain Adrian Webster was somewhat horse-collared for the semifinal victory lap. (Frank MacDonald Collection)

Contemporary Sounders fans recognize the formula. Remember late in 2016, the signing of Nico Lodeiro, the reemergence of Nelson Valdez and going from doormat to destroyer? Well,  kids, that was the ’77 Sounders.

In winning seven straight to open August, the Sounders were transformed from unwatchable to irresistible, from also-ran to giant killer. In running the table over three weeks, Seattle first rose above .500, then clinched a playoff berth before proceeding to knock-out three higher seeds, all due to improbable road victories.

Breaking Camp

I listened to the radio call of the last of those away wins, 3-1 over Georgie Best and LA, while winding my way up the 101 to Port Townsend and a soccer camp run by ex-Sounder Roy Sinclair and Geoff Wall. Three days later, stricken by Sounders fever, I did something very un-Frank-like.

Along with three friends (and a willing ballerina from the dance camp next door) I went AWOL from camp. The reason: Seattle was hosting the Aztecs for a place in the NASL final that evening, and I felt compelled to be there. Heck, we all did. Even the ballerina.

It was worth it. We each converged on the Kingdome box office to buy singles for that night’s semifinal. Already 56,000 seats had been sold. Fortunately, I found space in the north end, where Jocky Scott headed home the only goal.

Webster and the Sounders would battle Pele’s Cosmos on even terms in Portland, in Soccer Bowl ’77. (Courtesy Adrian Webster)

When Jocky scored, when that primal roar of the crowd was trapped within a concrete tomb, it was literally deafening, at least for the moment.

It’s a vivid memory: Scott hugging Ord in the corner. Strangers hugging strangers in the stands. Later, a lap of honor before the enraptured fans, Webster wearing a huge floral horse collar, a la Seattle Slew, that spring’s Triple Crown winner. It’s an experience that’s seared into your being.

Seventeen Again

This Sunday, I’m that 17-year-old all-in fan all over again. Although I’m now on a first-name basis with those protagonists of my teens, my admiration has only grown. I get to shadow them as they make the rounds from Fuel to the NINETY to the Golden Scarf ceremony, all the while renewing acquaintances with other fans of a certain age.

Webster’s recently published book, entitled Soccer Bowl ’77.

It wasn’t just a seminal summer for me, but for them as well. In the wake of that season, Doug Thiel published the first Sounders book, All the Best. Webster’s now written a book about that side. He and Butler have returned to the city after decades away to see firsthand what they hath wrought, those many years ago, a soccer community like none other in North America.

August of ’77 was a time to behold, no matter what the eventual outcome against the Cosmos. It was a tale of unfinished business, a task finally completed by the Rave 39 years later.

Times such as the ’77 Soccer Bowl run should be preserved, shared and, yes, celebrated with coming generations. Nine, 19 and 29 years from now, let’s make a pact to meet here again, to share a story or two from one special late summer and fall of 2016, stories of resilience and reawakening, to once again applaud the likes of Schmetz and Frei, Nico and Nelson, and to celebrate when you truly became a Sounder for life.

I became a Sounder ’til I die in August of ’77. How about you?

NOTE: 1977 Sounders will make a series of pregame appearances August 20. It begins at 3pm at Fuel Sports. From 5-5:40pm you can catch them at The NINETY and from 6-6:30pm at Soccer Celebration in the Northwest Marshaling Area of CenturyLink Field. Finally, they will participate in the Golden Scarf ceremony at approximately 6:50pm.

Seattle vs Portland: By the Numbers (NASL Era, 1975-82)

NASL Era – Sounders vs Timbers (1975-82)

League – 20 Meetings

Home (form): 7-2-1 GD: 21-11 [WWWWWW(TW)LLW]

Away: 4-4-2 GD: 12-10 [WLWL(TL)L(TW)LWW]

Total: 11-6-3 GD: 33-21 [WLWWWWL(TL)WLWW(TW)(TW)LLLWWW]

Playoffs – 1 Meeting

Home: None

Away: 0-1-0 GD: 1-2 [L]

Total: 0-1-0 GD: 1-2 [L]

Extremes

Record Win: 5-1, Kingdome, 6/30/1979

Record Defeat: 0-3, Civic Stadium, 6/11/1977

Record Total Goals: 6, Seattle 5:1 Portland, 6/30/1979

Doubles (win home & away same season): 3/1

Portland’s Chris Dangerfield, left, and Mike England battle for the ball in the Timbers’ first visit to Seattle, in 1975.

Individual Leaders Continue reading Seattle vs Portland: By the Numbers (NASL Era, 1975-82)

It’s Full Time for F.X.

When F.X. McRory’s Steak, Chop and Oyster House dropped anchor in Pioneer Square back in the autumn of 1977, a half-dozen oysters went for less than two bucks and the highest-paid Sounder’s salary was $30,000.

Obviously much has changed in the near 40 years since. Soon Mick McHugh will open a new F.X. McRory’s at a nearby but still undisclosed location. Yet, for many sports fans from both Seattle and traveling from afar to our fair city, McHugh’s June 11 last call will unquestionably mark the end of an era.

Sigi Schmid celebrated his first night as Sounders FC coach at F.X. McRory’s. Here he is joined by the family of Hans Stierle, a Vashon Island resident and also his first youth coach. (Courtesy Sounders FC)

With its closing come a rush of memories from four decades, of drinks ordered, sipped and spilled. Of lunchtime or happy hour gatherings and a crush of people before and after events at the neighboring stadia.

At one time, the McRory’s brass doors swung open to the Kingdome when that concrete mausoleum came to life about 170 nights per year as home to the Seahawks, Mariners, Sounders and Sonics. Beyond being a 350-seat, 12,000-square-foot cash register, it became a landmark. Countless other bars and restaurants came and closed during the F.X. run, and it’s fair to say more gameday pints were slurped there than any other joint in town.

For Sounders Nation, McRory’s and the entire McKesson and Robbins Building that houses it holds a special place in history. The NASL era Sounders were the first team to take residency in the Kingdome, and in 1979 their offices moved from the nearby Metropole Building into the fourth floor, above F.X. Before long, the Sonics took occupancy on the second floor.

When Sounders Hit the Bar

Alan Hudson, the legendary Sounders captain and midfield maestro, shared his own F.X. story.

Early on, F.X. McRory’s would take out a full-page ad in The Times for an annual report.

“It was the first bar downtown I frequented with Jimmy Gabriel, Harry Redknapp, Bobby Howe and John Anderson (the trainer),” writes Hudson. “We were in the old office above and on leaving, waiting for the elevator, Harry was complaining about (Anderson) never buying a drink.”

Sure enough, on this occasion Anderson arrived after the others had ordered. “So Harry turned to John and said… ‘John, why haven’t you ever bought a bloody drink?’ John coolly said, ’Harry, you never asked me.’

“Me, Jimmy, Bobby howled. Harry was gobsmacked. Great answer, because we all know that those in the USA are not as quick to the bar as us English.

Hudson admits he’s seen a fair share of bars around the world, but McRory’s stands out. “I went many a time after a match,” he shared. “It was obviously the first time I’d seen a ladder behind the bar.” It was also where Hudson discovered–amongst all the hundreds of bourbons and special Scotches–his taste for that Canadian blended whisky, Crown Royal.

On to the Next Round

Soon after, Don Greiert succeeded Anderson as the Sounders trainer. Greiert has his own F.X. stories for he once supervised the oyster bar.

When alumni of the NASL Sounders gathered in 2014, McRory’s was the logical location.

“The first St. Patrick’s Day I remember (owners) Mick (McHugh) and Tim (Firnstahl) having us start the day before by moving out all the tables from the bar for more room,” said Greiert. “After the last partygoer was cleared (on St. Paddy’s Day), Mick and Tim let us stay for a closed-door, private celebration until 5 in the morning.”

Dave Schumacher, once the club’s community relations director, recalls Bobby Howe conducting his Captain Bluff drinking game to wide-eyed new staff. Inevitably, the naïve newcomers would be left staggering.

“It was where everybody went, because we were right there, up on the fourth floor” said Schumacher. “You could come down the back elevator and in through the back door. Bobby and Alan (Hinton) were always there.”

McHugh asked Hinton to serve as a guest panelist (along with Bill the Beerman and Ivar Haglund) at an ale and beer tasting event.

Such regulars were Sounders staff that two are depicted in LeRoy Neiman’s painting of the iconic whisky bar. After Kingdome matches, usually the first stop for players was the small and rather Spartan stadium lounge. Subsequent rounds, however, came down the street at McRory’s.

F.X. McRory’s is such an institution that it often becomes a rallying point for out-of-towners. Among the first traveling fans to lay siege to the place were Vancouver Whitecaps supporters in the Eighties. They didn’t seem to mind the lesser buzz factor of American brews as they chanted Ooogie, Oogie, Oogie into the night.

Memories of Latter Days

After Sigi Schmid was named coach in December 2008, he joined fans, friends and family to celebrate that first night in Seattle at McRory’s. One not-so-pleasant memory comes from a pre-dawn December 2010 assembly of those associated with the 2022 World Cup bid, which promised matches in Seattle should the U.S. prevail with FIFA. Alas, the news was deflating. But who knows, maybe the ultimate ending will have a twist.

Sounders players and staff were such regulars at the bar, two are depicted in LeRoy Neiman’s 1980 painting.

In 2014, Sounders FC located its offices virtually across Occidental Avenue from F.X. Also that year, alumni from the original Sounders converged on McRory’s to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Seattle’s first pro soccer club. They found that the place had aged gracefully.

Three iterations of Sounders fans and players, coaches and staff have leaned on the 96-foot marble bar. And it’s reasonable to assume that wherever Mick moves that bar, they will follow.

Goal-Setting: Taking Aim on Records

A staple of many a preseason camp is goal-setting. It taps into the competitive nature of athletes and coaches, to aspire and work toward targets, both for the individuals and the collective, the team.

They must be specific and measurable; within reason, but also just out of reach. To reach these goals will require more than before. Goal-setting asks us to give it everything we’ve got, and then some.

The urge to extrapolate the Nicolas Lodeiro effect over a full season has Sounders fans dreamy. (Courtesy Sounders FC)

Entering a ninth season in MLS, Sounders FC is well into its adolescence. Whereas the formative years were filled with modest accomplishments – winning season series, making the playoffs – those benchmarks are now merely base camps for assault on the summit.

Continue reading Goal-Setting: Taking Aim on Records

A Brief History of Homegrowns & Finals

When he takes his place on the terra firma of BMO Field on Saturday night, the mission of Jordan Morris is to do whatever it takes for the Sounders to bring home the Anschutz Trophy.

Win the ball. Hold the ball. Connect. Cover and mark bigs on Reds set plays. Set-up or score a goal, all the better. But just win.

The Philip F. Anschutz trophy

It would be Seattle’s first such championship in the top flight of North American soccer, and it would obviously hold extra special meaning to a Mercer Islander who grew up watching the boys in Rave. And given Puget Sound’s proclivity for producing top-class players, it would be a fantasy come true for fans, to see a homegrown lad lift MLS Cup.

Continue reading A Brief History of Homegrowns & Finals

A History of Outbursts

If set to a soundtrack, the game is more suited to symphony than garage band. Fortunes can change quickly in soccer, but usually following a long, drawn-out build-up. Yet there are the exceptions, when the drumbeat does double-time and the cymbals crash repeatedly.

So it was on Sunday. Just when it was seeming Dallas and Seattle were destined to finish the first leg of their series in a scoreless stalemate, the Sounders came unleashed, attacking in fury and soon finding themselves as top dog in a pairing with the top side in MLS this season.

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Reversing roles, scorer (Nicolas Lodeiro) celebrates with creator (Jordan Morris) after the second of the three goals vs. Dallas. (Courtesy Sounders FC)

Interim (Really? Still?) coach Brian Schmetzer pondered in his postgame presser whether he’d ever witnessed anything quite like it, the succession of blows by Valdez, Lodeiro and, again, Lodeiro during an 8-minute span early in the second half.

Continue reading A History of Outbursts

Center-Halves And Full of Goals

Down through the years, Seattle certainly can claim its share of goal-scoring central defenders. Beginning with David Gillett driving home a corner kick in ’74 and renewed through Chad Marshall’s flick to the far corner versus Chicago, the big backline boys have often proven the difference between victory and defeat, at both ends of the pitch.

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Chad Marshall has scored six times for Seattle (all comps), beginning with a 2014 winner vs. Philadelphia. (Courtesy Sounders FC)

This year alone, three of Marshall’s four goals have translated to five additional points in an extremely tight playoff race. Time will tell the true importance of that header, although it wasn’t Marshall’s first big score. There was the late winner vs. Philly in ’14 and the added time strike at Dallas in the playoffs a year ago.

Whether in the opponent’s box or his own, Marshall’s works are textbook, efficient, clinical in application. As for center back goals, it’s doubtful he will ever deliver with the panache of Djimi Traore’s long-distance, aggregate equalizer against Tigres or Patrick Ianni’s sidewinder extraordinaire vs. Sporting KC.

Four Goals is Significant Continue reading Center-Halves And Full of Goals