Scoring Kings of Cascadia

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.

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Delivering the goods consistently in derby matches makes one tifo-worthy. (Courtesy Sounders FC)

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)

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Peter Ward proved a one-man wrecking for the Timbers in 1982. (Frank MacDonald Collection)

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Soccer Hall Beckons (And There’s room For More)

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.

KaseybobbleFor 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)

Take A Number, Any Number

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.

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It took more than 30 years for Seattle to break out of the 30s, with Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar (77) doing the honors. (Courtesy FC Alliance)

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.

What’s in a number? It’s become more personal and less about tradition. Continue reading Take A Number, Any Number

But What If They Weren’t Sounders?

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.

MLSinSeattleScreenshotWhile 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.

Continue reading But What If They Weren’t Sounders?

A Friendly Formula

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.

imgresThis, 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.

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Reserves Packaging Much Improved, But Barometer Remains Same

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.

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Kennedy High grad Jimmy McAlister was the first of more than 20 young prospects to reach NASL action through the Sounders Reserves

Continue reading Reserves Packaging Much Improved, But Barometer Remains Same

Remembering Quakes Were 1st Rival

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.

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Pepe Fernandez, Seattle’s original #9, was a former league MVP and fan favorite.

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.

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Best & Worst of Seattle Openers

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.

Best Theatre

March 19, 2009 – Sounders FC 3:0 New York

Seattle_Sounders_FC_First_Game_ECS_OverheadFrom 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.

Worst Home Team Performance Continue reading Best & Worst of Seattle Openers

No Regrets: Principals Look Back at ’79 Strike

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.

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Adrian Webster, right, served as interim Sounders union player representative in 1979.

Continue reading No Regrets: Principals Look Back at ’79 Strike

Brief But Bitter: Sounders Strike of ’79

It lasted just four days and only one round of matches. Still, America’s first work stoppage for professional soccer left a mark as plain as studs being raked down an opponent’s shin.

And while many markets witnessed little disruption to business as usual, Seattle was not spared. All but a handful of players walked out and the replacements’ display was televised for all to see.

Here’s a chronological look back at how the North American Soccer League strike of 1979 played out for the Sounders.

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Tony Chursky was the first casualty of the labor unrest. Seattle traded their player representative to California before the strike. (Frank MacDonald Collection)

Owners of the 24 teams had set on a collision course with the players for nearly two years. In 1977, 93 percent of the players voted to authorize formation of a union. By August of 1978, 75 percent voted to be represented by the NASL Players Association.

The National Labor Relations Board promptly certifies the union, and just as promptly NASL owners refuse to recognize the union.

Continue reading Brief But Bitter: Sounders Strike of ’79

Seattle's Soccer Nation: Past, Present & Future