He commenced his career in Toronto, played for Canada’s Olympic and national teams, and has made the Great White North’s largest city his home. And yet on Saturday, despite never setting foot in CenturyLink Field, Jack Brand will bleed Rave Green.
“Some of my friends will curse me for that,” says Brand, “(but) my heart is with Seattle.”
It’s not so much the quantity of time Brand spent in Seattle in his earlier years. Rather, it is the quality of that tenure. He was part of something truly special, both in Sounders lore and the rebirth of the game with a semipro club comprised of local lads.
Brand, now 64, presides over his family’s business, based in nearby Mississauga. The Brand Felt Ltd. manufactures industrial felt for a multitude of industries, exporting worldwide. The German-born Brand, at 17, was sent abroad by his father, company founder Klaus Brand, to study in New York state. Although he had played for then-West Germany’s youth national team, his father forbade him from turning pro at the time.
If it seems of late that Sounders FC are getting off on the front foot, it’s no illusion.
Not only is Seattle in a unique position (for them) of owning a lead going into the second leg of an MLS postseason series, the Rave have scored more goals in the first 10 minutes than any season in Sounders history, dating to 1974.
Normally, the initial stages of a match are fraught with caution. Square passes, back-passes and generally a sorting out of what tactics the opponent is bringing. Only, Seattle has increasingly used this time to go for the jugular.
To date, Seattle can claim nine goals during the first through 10th minutes. That more than doubles the total of the past two seasons and it’s also twice the norm for local pro clubs going back four decades.
First we starved, then we feasted. Now it appears we’re pushing ourselves away from the table.
Perhaps Puget Sound’s appetite for watching professional soccer has sated, at least if the recent ambivalence toward the offering of extra courses is any indication.
Make no mistake, Seattle remains a North American attendance phenomenon, averaging about 6,000 more fans per game than the next-best crowd count in MLS. Sounders FC is currently pulling 40,236, and that number will only grow with CenturyLink Field’s full capacity available for four summer dates.
After a couple trips back east and a bus ride to BC, the Sounders get to make themselves at home for the rest of May.
A three-match home stand featuring visits by Sporting KC, Colorado and the Red Bulls presents no rollovers as they are a combined 3-3-9 on the road. The low-riding Rapids are actually unbeaten (1-0-4) and miserly (2 GA) away. Go figure.
Of course fans will settle for nothing less than nine points, preferably with two of the games lighting the flames on multiple occasions. Historically, that’s not too much to ask.
Each of the past two seasons Seattle has taken all the points from three-match stands, scoring eight times a year ago against Colorado, Philly and Dallas. That started a string of six straight home wins and set the Rave on a course for the Supporters’ Shield.
Where else would a 17-year-old, soccer-crazed kid find himself on a Saturday evening in spring but in the basement of his grandmother’s house.
If there was a party, it could wait. Besides, the good ones are just getting started around 10. That would provide ample time to arrive fashionably late. But enough about that and back to the basement.
I loved my Grandma Sadie dearly. Loved mowing and edging her expansive lawn and joining her for lunch afterward on Saturdays. However I must confess that when I returned for dinner later this particular night, it was mostly for the cable.
Yes, honestly cable TV was the attraction. It was 1977 and this new innovation that provided a clear picture and double the number of channels–like 10 altogether–was only available in Centralia’s downtown area, and not up on Seminary Hill where I lived. Located approximately halfway between Seattle and Portland on Interstate 5, Centralia was ideally situated to get both cities’ local affiliates via Craig McCaw’s (look him up) fledgling cable company. Up on the hill, our rabbit ears arrangement afforded only a grainy glimpse of the Seattle channels. Continue reading A Comeback for the Ages→
Legends are made from exploits when matches matter most. Sometimes that’s the postseason, and sometimes those feats come in the context of a derby.
Leafing back through time, those who have constructed tifo-worthy Seattle careers have largely done so through earnest effort, tenacious battling, artful orchestration and as fearless saviors. But of course, the most golden of moments is when the ball billows the back of the twine, and the crowd goes wild. Glory beyond compare awaits those who score goals, and the bigger the occasion, the more splendid the finish and the more goals, the better.
Here, then, going into Sunday’s match with Portland, are Seattle’s golden boys of Cascadia, era by era, over the past 41 years:
NASL / Sounders, 1974-83
Cascadia goals: Peter Ward (6); John Rowlands (5), David Butler (5), Paul Crossley (5), Mark Peterson (5)
It’s probably a good thing that induction into the National Soccer Hall of Fame is a byproduct of job well done rather than an objective from the outset. Otherwise, seeing what must be undertaken over years and years would seem overwhelming. Why, it would be enough for a coach to consider accounting.
In assessing the careers of Kasey Keller and Sigi Schmid it seems they should’ve locked-up an invitation to the Hall long ago. They appear to have what it takes in spades.
For Keller, he was tracking toward this day for more than 20 years,
beginning in 1989 when he shined at that U20 World Cup. By 2005 he’d been U.S. player of the year three times, made three World Cup rosters, broken new ground for Americans in Europe and blanked Brazil in a performance for the ages. Yet he kept on going for another six seasons, in the end coming home to remind those in MLS what we’d been missing all those years. Continue reading Soccer Hall Beckons (And There’s room For More)→
So maybe they wouldn’t be coveted for the waiting line at the DMV. But two Sounders rookies have unwaveringly embraced the numbers they’ve been issued.
When Victor Mansaray sprinted onto the Toyota Stadium pitch last week, he not only became the youngest Seattle pro to appear in a competitive first team match, the 18-year-old also broke new ground by wearing ’80’ on his kit, front and back.
A few minutes later the numerology bar was pushed higher still with the introduction of number 91, Oniel Fisher.
The Numbers Game
While it took 33 years to break with tradition and go beyond the 30s, now the Sounders are approaching the outer limits. Officially FIFA restricts numbers to 99, but as those attending the Xolos friendly will attest, who’s counting?
Tijuana substitute Matthew Gomes wore 104 on his back, and the club roster lists a first team player with 112. Furthermore, their academy ledger is loaded with players asssigned triple digits.
Seven years on, and it’s lunacy to think they could be called anything but Seattle Sounders.
To many, even seven years ago, any alternative seemed sacrilege. On March 25, 2008, newly christened and generically dubbed MLS Seattle put its to a public vote. They asked fans to choose between three nickname options: Alliance, Republic or Seattle FC.
While locals associated ‘Sounders’ with professional soccer’s storied Seattle history, in the upper reaches of MLS the name was met with resistance. Nostalgia was well and good, but this was a new team in a new league and it was best to make a fresh start. At least that was the wisdom coming from league brass.
Rolling through the years, there have been scores of international friendlies played round these parts, with a wide variety of match-ups and benefits.
They have benefitted widows and expectant mothers, state associations and school team formation. Over the generations we’ve hosted Cold War foes and Sister Cities, Olympic champions and Champions League victors.
This, the 10th friendly of the Sounders FC era, is billed as preparation for the upcoming return of Seattle to Champions League play. More than four months before the fact and with group stage opponents yet to be determined.