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.
No, this ain’t your dad’s Sounders Reserves. But ultimately its success will be determined the same way.
For those of us who shivered in ones and twos at Renton Stadium back in the day, the notion of Sounders 2 opening before a big crowd is only one of the reasons our minds are blown.
To think that S2 and its fellow MLS reserves are part of respectable national league, complete with playoffs, and attracting more fan interest than the soccer equivalent of geeky baseball scouts with radar guns and stopwatches, is yet another sign of the thriving times in American futbol.
Reserve programs playing in the USL (formerly USL PRO) have now outstripped their parent clubs for the number of incarnations that have come and gone over 39 years. Their purpose has shifted from time to time. However when attached to a top-tier club, the focus has always been about producing talent, and that has not changed.
Before the Galaxy, before Portland and even before Vancouver, the Sounders found their first rival in San Jose.
The Quakes, who come to the CLink for the 57th meeting with Seattle on Saturday, were the first foe that the Sounders and the fans learned to hate. Of course, breaking a favorite’s leg will do that.
Our wayback machine takes us to Memorial Stadium on the evening of May 19, 1974. Knotted at 1-1 in the 78th minute, Seattle winger Pepe Fernandez latches onto a loose ball at midfield and drives toward the west goal.
Fernandez, a former NASL MVP, has won over fans in the first three games of the Sounders’ existence with his close control and ability to make plays. His corner kick to John Rowlands had opened the scoring.
Now that the all-clear has been sounded for Sunday’s Sounders opener against New England, it’s time to look back on some of the best and worst first games for Seattle clubs. Ready, let’s roll.
March 19, 2009 – Sounders FC 3:0 New York
From the unfurling of that first tifo to Montero’s bomb (see below)–all before a national audience–it was more than anyone could’ve imagined, pulling Seattle’s soccer community together again.
Best Home Team Performance
March 28, 1981 – Sounders 3: Los Angeles 0
It was nearly a 7-month wait to get payback after a dreamy 25-7 season ended in premature playoff elimination in a shootout loss to LA. Sounders made short work of Aztecs, scoring three times in first half-hour.
Nobody wins in a strike. It’s just a matter of who loses the most.
The NASL strike of 1979 was hit-and-miss, but Sounders players and management both meant business. Although the stoppage lasted only five days and Seattle’s weakened team was beaten, that was only the beginning.
In several ways those trying times marked, once and for all, an end of the club’s innocence, and with it perhaps the fans’ undying affection. What began as Camelot in 1974, was exposed as being, like anything else, a business. Warts and all.
Two of the key local figures in that labor battle were Adrian Webster, the interim players’ representative, and Sounders GM Jack Daley. Now some 35 years on, with Major League Soccer now facing a potential work stoppage while wrangling over a new CBA, Webster, Daley and others show no apparent regret for their measures.