How Huddy Won Over Seattle

He was an acquired taste, Alan Hudson. He was ahead of his time, for sure, and such savants often suffer as a consequence. However, by working tirelessly, showing his colors and winning matches, Huddy emphatically won Seattle over.

This week he returns, and the occasion provides an opportunity to share what Hudson was all about and explain why he was, aIong with Mike England, an unanimous selection to the NASL Sounders All-Time XI. Continue reading How Huddy Won Over Seattle

Sounders Coaches: They Did It Their Way

While some 450 professional players have proudly worn a Seattle crest during these past 40 years, head coaches comprise an exclusive club of 11 who have trained, molded and inspired them.

That only scratches the surface of a coach’s duties. They are the club’s face. It can be a lonely job and exhilarating, all at once. And whatever the case, they relish that responsibility. Ultimately, although each goes about their business with their own unique style, their mission is success.

JBest75
John Best was a perfect first coach, not only building a team but a faithful following (Frank MacDonald Collection)

From John Best in ’74 to Sigi Schmid today, much has changed in the managing profession, and yet with all the science, knowledge and money now influencing world football, most of the same standards still apply: observation, imagination, communication and perseverance.

Continue reading Sounders Coaches: They Did It Their Way

Pick A Team to Beat Portland

O, magic team sheet on the wall, who are the fairest XI of them all?

As the anniversary year winds up, Sounders FC has invited one and all to weigh in with their picks for an all-time XI. It’s not quite a dream team, since there are rules to follow. But that’s to be expected in these days of salary caps, financial fair play and transfers subject to the ubiquitous ‘upon medical exam, and receipt of P-1 visa and ITC.’

While intensive education and debate will make for a full experience, most people just want to have fun. So enjoy yourself. But there’s nothing more fun than beating Portland, so pledge to make your Sounders XI strong enough to beat the Timbers XI next year, when their 40th rolls around.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to put the best fantasy team on the fantasy pitch, which, of course, is thick, rich natural turf. Remember, it’s a fantasy theme and to replace all divots.

GabrielJoy77
Gabriel is a must in Sounders All-Time XI. See his joy juxtaposed to Timbers’ dejection? Classic (Frank MacDonald Collection)

Continue reading Pick A Team to Beat Portland

Late, Great Sounders Acquisitions

This week marks the arrival to Sounders FC training of late-season acquisition Onyekachi Apam. It remains to be seen whether Apam will get sufficiently fit for a debut this season, but the measure of such a roster move is rarely measured in the first few weeks.

Looking back over 40 years, Seattle has often added personnel past the halfway point of the season who have proven integral to success, both in the short and long run. Perhaps Apam will be such a player. Time will tell.

TommyOrd77ax
Tommy Ord arrived to little fanfare yet became an instant sensation in the drive to Soccer Bowl ’77 (Frank MacDonald Collection)

Signing strikers is sexy, midfielders not so much and defenders less so. Yet as you read on, some have helped save the day, if not win it.

Therefore, here are XI Late Great Additions in Sounders history: Continue reading Late, Great Sounders Acquisitions

Sad, sad story and hopefully a silver lining

It’s an unimaginable scene playing out at Chivas USA.

Here is MLS, seemingly at the height of its off-field success and soon heading into its 20th season, with franchise fees of $100 million, cities queuing up to join and a huge new TV contract.

Yet the franchise that signaled the start of spring growth following two failures in Florida–that club is bound for the scrap heap come season’s end. And that’s difficult to comprehend, let alone witness.

It’s not easy to watch, this writhing carcass of Chivas USA. Where more than 19,000 once watched the Goats at StubHub Center, only a scattering of diehards remain.

MLSDefunctIf you’ve followed American soccer beyond, say, 2002, the sight of failing franchises is all too familiar. One NASL offseason saw eight teams  erased. And although MLS terms this two-year (minimum) hiatus a re-brand, it really looks and feels like the Goats are going to slaughter. Whatever form the so-called LA2 takes will bear little resemblance to CUSA. The crest and records will join those of the dusty Fusion and Mutiny archives. StubHub will once again become a single-family dwelling. Continue reading Sad, sad story and hopefully a silver lining

What’s in a Captain?

While the captain’s armband is elastic, it’s far from being a one-size-fits-all.

EvansCapt
Brad Evans earned the captain’s arm band beginning this season, succeeding Mauro Rosales (Courtesy Sounders FC)

Going back 40 years, the role of Sounders team captain has been filled by both noteworthy legends and relatively obscure players. Disparate as they may be, these Seattle skippers share two qualities: unquestioned respect and a contagious competitive spirit.

Nowadays the captaincy carries with it a certain amount of pomp and fanfare. He wears the armband, leads the squad onto the field, calls coin-flips and, if the season ends well, lifts some silver skyward.

Back in the day of the NASL or A-League, when armbands were largely absent, identifying the captain from afar was mostly guesswork for fans. But being a captain isn’t about fanfare, and it’s far from symbolic. And it starts with fanning the flame inside the belly of every teammate. Continue reading What’s in a Captain?

Zach Scott at 300: Epitome of Improbability

When seen racing back to cover, or to be first to a loose ball, the lasting impression is of arms and legs furiously pumping, his chest bowed and practically a step in front–more than anything else. He’s giving everything he’s got. That epitomizes Zach Scott.

He appears to have broken through one brick wall and is prepared to lay waste to another. And another. Whatever it takes.

140310Scott710
Believe it or not, the Timbers had the inside track to taking Scott via a 2002 tryout

To know Scott’s story is to know how unbridled determination and belief can undo all those laws of probability. It has taken belief in one’s self and the providential belief of others in him to reach this point, this moment, when he becomes the first Sounder to reach 300 appearances.

First, a word about 300. It’s not some random number; it defines a rarity. Only 23 players have surpassed 300 appearances in the first 19 seasons of MLS. Furthermore, of those 23 only Cobi Jones did so for one club. Going back 40 years, only Bob Lenarduzzi’s 312 matches for Vancouver are greater.

Then there’s the Zach Factor. Jones and Lenarduzzi were national teamers for the US and Canada, respectively. This guy, Scott, was a longshot to play the game at the college level, let alone the pros. He was a walk-on at Gonzaga, a trialist for the USL Sounders and further defied the odds in winning (and keeping) a place in MLS with Sounders FC.

Made in Maui

Continue reading Zach Scott at 300: Epitome of Improbability

Zach Scott by the Numbers

1st Appearance: May 4, 2002 at Portland (W, 2-0)

Note: Replaced Nate Daligcon in 73rd minute

 

1st Start: May 26, 2002 at Vancouver (W, 4-1)

Note: Defense included goalkeeper Preston Burpo, Kieran Barton, Scott Jenkins, Ryan Edwards

 

1st Goal: June 8, 2002 at Calgary (W, 3-2)

Note: Came on for Daligcon in 64th minute; scored winner in 90th minute off corner kick by Andrew Gregor; Sounders remain perfect at 8-0-0

 

50th Appearance: September 7, 2003 at Vancouver (D, 1-1)

Note: Second leg of playoff that Seattle won on penalties

 

Continue reading Zach Scott by the Numbers

The Treble: Too Much to Ask?

Is it too much to ask for The Treble?

Growing up a fan of all things Seattle, my sense is that we tend to settle. As if that term is just an ‘a’ away from who we are. There’s rarely an outcry if sports team is stopped short of the summit.

Unlike some fan bases which shall remain nameless, web-footed western Washington supporters seem to have a comfort zone that begins with playing in bowl games your daddy watched and advancing beyond the first round of any particular playoff.

seattlesoundershighs_yymyhrfkcwbe1bqh7ilmuwlzaOh, sure, we lament underachievement, and we have piques of frustration. But by and large we are OK with, say, winning 116 games but falling short of the World Series. Our passive/aggressive MO merely manifests itself in a faint cry of ‘We’ll get ‘em, next year!’

Continue reading The Treble: Too Much to Ask?

Getting from Niche to National

So what’s U.S. Soccer got to do to get Joe Fan interested in the Open Cup?

That remains the question as the tournament begins its second hundred years tonight with the Philadelphia-Seattle final at PPL Park. It seems that despite significant changes in the format this historic knockout competition is plagued by apathy and a general lack of appreciation, awareness and, consequently, attendance.

USOClogoIt seems that if the Lamar Hunt Open Cup is to survive the next century, it must aspire to do more than just slog along. There must be an intentional effort to reinvigorate this event. Failing that, it will remain just a niche attraction, valued by pockets here and there who respect it for either history’s sake or the least path of resistance to a CCL berth.

SoundersThreePeat
When Seattle pulled 31,311 in 2010, the 1929 Open Cup final attendance record was shattered. The next year’s crowd was 35,615

As it is, only about 60,000 folks are interested in tonight’s outcome. Thirty-five thousand of them live in the Puget Sound region. Another 15,000 will venture to Chester. Judging from the obscure broadcast provider, GolTV, the rest are scattered about in soccer pubs around the country, or wherever else that elusive signal rebounds to earth.

Continue reading Getting from Niche to National

Seattle's Soccer Nation: Past, Present & Future