History of professional soccer in Seattle

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The History of professional soccer in Seattle spans over four decades, and includes clubs playing in numerous different leagues such as the North American Soccer League, the United Soccer Leagues, the Continental Indoor Soccer League, Major League Soccer, the National Women's Soccer League, and most recently the Major Arena Soccer League.

Seattle Sounders (NASL), 1974-1983[edit]

On January 23, 1974; the Seattle Sounders were founded. The original Seattle Sounders were created prior to the 1974 North American Soccer League season.[1] The club's inaugural season resulted in a 10–7–3 record, the only expansion franchise that year to have their wins outpace their losses. In spite of the winning record, it was not enough for the Sounders to qualify for the NASL playoffs, finishing in third place in the Western Conference that year.

The Sounders returned in 1975 with a much stronger regular season record, accumulating five more wins than in 1974, totaling a 15–7–0 record. In their first playoff run, the Sounders lost in the quarterfinals 1–2 to their southern rivals, the Portland Timbers.[2] The following season, along with a massive increase in attendance, the Sounders would reach the Divisional Championships of the 1976 NASL playoffs, but fall short to the Minnesota Kicks 3–0.[2]

The club achieved their best success the following season, when they made it to Soccer Bowl '77, but lost in the championship to Cosmos 2–1.[3]

Seattle Sounders [4]

Camelot, Seattle Style

To longtime Seattle soccer fans, "Camelot" doesn't bring to mind images of knights and round tables. Instead, it evokes fond memories of the likes of Davy Butler, Adrian Webster, Tommy Hutchison, and the early years of the Seattle Sounders. The soccer team, which existed for 10 years, seemingly suffered from a split personality. The first five years saw steady growth, and are considered, by those in the know, to be the Camelot years. The last five years were both glorious and awful, marked by inconsistency and high-drama.

The legend began in December 1973, when the North American Soccer League (NASL), begun in 1967, decided upon a course of westward expansion, hoping that this would somehow stabilize the rocky league, awarding franchises to both Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. (Portland would enter the league in 1975). Seattle's entry was owned by a group of prominent local businessmen and women who promptly named John Best coach of the team, and held a "name the team" contest. A month later, "Sounders" was selected as the winning name, beating out over 3,000 other suggestions, including "Mariners" (one of the finalists).

Sell-out Crowds

Unlike many expansion teams, the Sounders made an instant impact on both the league and city. Playing in Seattle Center's Memorial Stadium, the Sounders hosted the first sell-out crowd (13,876) in NASL history on June 22, 1974. They played to six sold-out crowds in their inaugural season, and despite a rocky start, the team ended the season with a respectable 10-3-7 record, narrowly missing the playoffs. Based on their first season success, seating was expanded in 1975, and in July of that year the team set a new NASL attendance record with a crowd of 17,925, a number they achieved two more times that year. They also achieved their goal of making the playoffs in only their second season. Even more amazing, it never rained on the team in any of the games played in either of the years the Sounders played in Memorial Stadium.

NASL teams, hoping that signing a Pelé-like superstar would boost attendance at home the same way Pelé’s presence had in 1975, opened their wallets like never before. Seattle Sounders signed English striker Geoff Hurst, who scored a hat trick in the 1966 World Cup final. Demonstrating a sharp eye and financial responsibility, Seattle acquired the star for a song. As Hurst was a free agent at the time, the Sounders were able to avoid the prohibitively expensive transfer fees that usually accompanied such signings. On the other hand, the fact that Hurst was unsigned at all demonstrated that most of the stars coming over to the NASL would be-for the most part-past their primes and not necessarily wanted at home.


The Jimmy Gabriel Years

When Best moved on to the Vancouver Whitecaps, assistant coach Jimmy Gabriel took over the head coaching reins in 1977, which was yet another strong year for the team. Average attendance broke 22,000 as Gabriel took the team to Soccer Bowl, the league championship, which they lost 2-1 to the Cosmos. To the delight of the fans, Kennedy High School graduate Jimmy McAlister took Rookie of the Year honors.

The team originally comprised largely English imports, but as time went on, more and more North Americans such as McAlister began creeping onto the roster, helping solidify the local fan base.

While the Seahawks and Mariners were still laughable, grade-schoolers pretended to be Sounders players on the playground, hoping that they would one day play for the home team. The Sounders had media support in those days, too. Games were carried on major radio stations and most games, both home and away, were televised. The team's first four years had been startlingly successful, and it seemed that the team's place as the glorious boys of summer was secure.

Unfortunately, Gabriel's subsequent years were not as successful as his first. The team squeaked into the playoffs in 1978, only to lose to the Cosmos in the first round, and suffered their first losing season in 1979. Attendance fell to 18,997, and the team was sold to another local businessman, Vince Coluccio, who removed Gabriel as coach in favor of the fiery Alan Hinton.

The media took to Hinton, but he was controversial with the players and fans. Although rumors of infighting abounded, play was stellar. The 1980 Sounders were 25-7, setting the North American Soccer League record for most wins in a season. Attendance was more than 24,000 and the team almost swept the post-season awards. Hinton won Coach of the Year, goalkeeper Jack Brand won Player of the Year, and striker Roger Davies earned the Most Valuable Player honors. Tacoma natives Jeff Stock and Mark Peterson were both in the running for Rookie of the Year, an award which was given to fellow Tacoman Jeff Durgan of the dreaded Cosmos.

From Glory to Gory

It seems virtually inconceivable, given the glory of the 1980 season, that the end of the team was so near, but it's so. The team imploded in 1981, going from record highs the year before to their second losing season. Tales of bickering between the players and the coach increased. Despite a dramatic improvement the following year, in which league MVP Peter Ward led the team back to Soccer Bowl (which was lost, 1-0, to none other than the Cosmos), the Sounders were unable to recover from the damage of the previous season. Attendance was barely half of what it had been only two years previously, and both the team and the league were in dire financial shape. The Sounders went up for sale.

Former football player Bruce Anderson bought the team before the 1983 season and made wholesale changes. He felt the game was too British, and tried to "Americanize" the team. He replaced Hinton with the calmer Laurie Calloway, changed the logo, uniforms, and installed "red, white, black, and blue" as the team's advertising catch phrase. Although his intentions were presumably good, many longtime fans were alienated by the rapid changes, and attendance continued to drop. The team had a hard time making payroll several times that season. The players were on a proverbial roller-coaster ride, and it showed in their play.

The distractions proved disastrous, and the Sounders final season was their worst in all respects. They finished with a 12-18 record and eked out only 8,317 in average attendance. Barely 4,000 die-hard fans were at the final game.

The team that had come in like a lion went out like a lamb, folding quietly on September 6, 1983. The rest of the league followed in 1984.

The Sounders Return

There have been several attempts since the demise of the Sounders to bring professional soccer back locally. The Tacoma Stars, FC Seattle Storm (unaffiliated with the WNBA team of the same name that came later), and Seattle Seadogs were all good teams (and all had former Sounders in their lineups), but none of them lasted even 10 years.

In 1994 the Sounders returned in a new guise: Alan Hinton had obtained the rights to the name and represented an ownership group that formed a new team, in a new league (the APSL—American Professional Soccer League, now the A-League, essentially a semi-pro league), with the old name. These Sounders also began in Memorial Stadium, but have lacked the fan support that the original team had, despite maintaining a consistently high level of play. Nonetheless, the Sounders revival have followed in the footsteps of their namesakes, and made the bold move to the big new stadium in town, Seahawks Stadium.

F.C. Seattle Storm (WSA), 1984-1995[edit]

Football Club Seattle Storm, also known as the F.C. Seattle Storm, was an American soccer team based in Seattle. F.C. Seattle was a "super club" created to provide Seattle players an opportunity to play at a higher level than the local recreational and semi-pro leagues. In addition to playing exhibition matches against top international teams, F.C. Seattle was a member of the short lived Western Soccer Alliance, was a founding member of the American Professional Soccer League and later spent three seasons in the Pacific Coast Soccer League.

Seattle SeaDogs (CISL), 1995-1997[edit]

Main article: Seattle SeaDogs

The Seattle SeaDogs were an indoor soccer team that played in the Continental Indoor Soccer League (CISL) from 1995 to 1997. They won the last CISL championship in 1997.

Sounders (APSL), 1994–2008[edit]

Debate for MLS or APSL club[edit]

Upon the incarnation of Major League Soccer, the Seattle metro area was shortlisted for a potentially candidate to host an inaugural MLS club.[6] However, when it came time have a petition to sign with the league, the Seattle organizers only managed to secure 1,300 assurances.[7] The low numbers were at first claimed to be the result between a ticket campaign between bringing an MLS expansion club to Seattle, and tickets for the American Professional Soccer League (APSL) Sounders.[8]

Failing to reach the minimum 10,000-signatures, Seattle was consequently excluded among the first seven cities to be awarded an MLS club.[9] However, in spite of this, the league announced that five more teams were to be announced later that year, with the chance to improve their chances. Subsequently, Seattle MLS organizers began working with the University of Washington to secure use of Husky Stadium as a tentative stadium while they pursued the construction of a permanent soccer-specific stadium.[10]

In November 1994, the inaugural MLS season was postponed to 1996. It was then noted that the absence of an "adequate grass-field facility" in the region, as well as the presence of the new APSL Seattle Sounders team had thwarted Seattle's MLS franchise bid.[11] In the end, Seattle was not among the cities chosen to establish a team during the first season of the MLS.[12]

Second attempt for MLS franchise[edit]

Upon completion in 2002, Qwest Field was also designed for soccer, providing separate amenities for soccer teams.[13][14]

During the debutant MLS season; Paul Allen, the owner of the NFL franchise, worked with the city to build a new football stadium for his team (today CenturyLink Field). With the possibility of an MLS expansion team that could be a co-tenant the facility helped drive public support for the stadium effort.[15] Many state voters supported the referendum to construct the Seahawks Stadium, because it was expected to double as a professional soccer venue.[16] While the stadium problem was being resolved, a new issue arrose. By 2000, MLS was veered away from league-operated clubs, towards investor-operated franchises. As result, wealthy individuals would need to step forward for Seattle to obtain an MLS franchise.[16]

In the early 2000s, MLS announced their intention to have their first expansion since 1998. In 2002, Seattle was once-again listed as a possible market for an MLS expansion team.[17] But in 2004, the two franchises were award to Salt Lake City, and a second franchise to the Los Angeles area, these teams later becoming known as Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA, respectively. MLS commissioner Don Garber indicated that Seattle had been "very close" to receiving the expansion team, and ended up being third on the list. Adrian Hanauer, then-owner of the United Soccer League's (USL) Sounders (formerly the APSL Sounders), was in discussions with MLS about an estimated payment of $1 million to purchase an MLS franchise, that could be placed in the Seattle area in time for the 2006 season.[18]

When Seattle was passed over again during the 2006 season (the franchise was awarded to Houston), Hanauer announced that he would not be able to secure an expansion team without the help of more investors willing to help cover the increasing MLS franchise fees which had grown beyond $10 million by the mid-2000s.[19]

Brian Schmetzer Era[edit]

Prior to the beginning of the 2002 campaign, the Sounders were coming off a dismal performance the previous season. With the firing of Englishmen Bernie James the Sounders were in need of hiring a new head coach. Hanauer called on Brian Schmetzer, who last coached the indoor club, the Seattle SeaDogs, and asked him if he was interested in the job. Schmetzer agreed and took the job that season. Schmetzer's highlights of his six-year tenure include Pacific Division titles in his inaugural season and the following season. In 2004, during his third year of coaching, he led the Sounders to the A-League championship game where the team ultimately lost to the Montreal Impact. The next year, in the Sounders debut in the USL First Division, Schmetzer led the club again to the finals, where they successfully defeated the Richmond Kickers in penalties.

Schmetzer was a finalist for the 2007 coach of the year award. Although the team had started the season 1–3–4, they went on to claim the Commissioner's Cup for the league's best regular season record. The team also had a 15-game unbeaten run that included MLS opponents in the U.S. Open Cup. The Sounders went on to beat the Atlanta Silverbacks 4–0 to win the postseason championship.[20]

Today, Schmetzer is presently the assistant coach for the MLS Sounders.[21]

2002–04: Pacific Champions, and run to USL Final[edit]

The Sounders' 2002 season was easily the strongest season for the USL team and arguably the strongest year of all Sounders franchises. In Brain Schmetzer's inaugural campaign as Sounders manager, Schmetzer led the club to 23 victories in 28 matches.[22] In 2002, the Sounders only lost one regular season match and had four draws.[22] The record results in 107 points for the season, and easily obtaining the Commissioner's Cup by 22 points.[22]

By earning the Commissioner's Cup, and winning the Pacific Division regular season title, the Sounders earned a direct bye to the Western Conference semifinals (or the quarterfinals) against their Cascadian rivals, the Vancouver Whitecaps.[22] The first leg in Seattle was a solid start for the Sounders, as they cruised to a 2–0 win.[22] The second leg, however, was a disaster. The match ended in a blowout 6–2 defeat. The defeat resulted in a 6–4 aggregate loss putting a shocking, abrupt end to the Sounders phenomenal season.[22]

2005–08: Three years, two titles[edit]

Emerald City Supporters display at the 2008 home opener.

Starting with the 2005 USL Division One season, the Sounders made it a top priority to win the USL postseason championship, especially following their shortcomings in 2004, with a defeat against Montreal Impact. During their 2005 campaign, Sounders goalie Preston Burpo, was second in the league in goals against average, averaging .85 goals a match.[23] That season, defender Taylor Graham won the league's "Defender of the Year" award[23] as well and was named to the "USL First Division Best XI" that year, too.[23] In 2005, the Sounders finished in fourth place,[23] and went on to win the championship against the Richmond Kickers in penalty kicks.[23]

The following year, 2006, proved to be a rough year for the defending champions, as they failed to qualify for the playoffs, and finished in 7th place in the league table. In the midst of their dismal season, striker Cam Weaver netted 18 goals for the club, as well as an additional three assists scoring 39 individual points in the USL First Division. He finished the season with the second highest amount of points behind Miami FC's Romario. Weaver was also named the USL First Division's "Rookie of the Year". Weaver received some minor international recognition, and subsequently signed with second division-Norwegian club FK Haugesund. Today, he plays for MLS-side [[Seattle Sounders[24]]].

Although 2007 was highlighted by the announcement of Seattle being award an MLS expansion franchise, the Sounders had a successful USL season, which proved to be their best in club history. First, the Sounders won the Commissioner's Cup, which is an award given the league champion with the best season record, of 16–6–6. They went on to win the postseason USL Cup, by thrashing Atlanta 4–0. In the 2007 U.S. Open Cup, the Sounders made a semifinal run, before losing to FC Dallas 2–1 in extra time. In the Open Cup quarterfinals, the Sounders thrashed MLS-side Colorado Rapids, 5–0, thus making it the largest margin of victory a USL club has ever had over an MLS club in any competition. Beforehand in the early rounds, the Sounders played Chivas USA, Portland Timbers and Banat Arsenal.[25]

Modern Day Sounders, (MLS) 2007–present[edit]

Main article: Seattle Sounders FC
TV personality, Drew Carey became a part owner with the Sounders FC, in a bid to join MLS

Seattle awarded expansion franchise[edit]

Following the shortcomings in 2006, the next year, Hanauer teamed up with Hollywood producer Joe Roth to make another bid for MLS expansion into Seattle. This time, at a fee of $30 million.[26] Paul Allen, whose First and Goal company operated Qwest Field (formerly Seahawks Stadium), joined the duo later that year, making the fourth bid the most promising yet for the region.[27] During the first week of November 2007, rumors began circulating that MLS would be announcing an expansion franchise into the Seattle market the following week and that the ownership trio had brought on a fourth member: TV personality Drew Carey.[28]

During a press conference on November 13, 2007; it was announced that Seattle had been awarded an expansion club by MLS. The announcement provided a return of top-level soccer to Seattle for the first time since the dissolution of its North American Soccer League (NASL) club in 1983. It also meant that the Seattle Sounders of the USL First Division would play their final second tier campaign prior their inaugural MLS season.[29][30]

New crest, same name[edit]

On April 7, 2008; along with the club's colors, badge design and logo, the Seattle MLS franchise announced their club's name. To decide the name, the organization held an online poll to decide the name. Overwhelmingly, supporters voted to retain the "Sounders" name, alluding to the past Sounders teams.

"Seattle Sounders FC" was announced as the team name on April 7, 2008, along with the team logo, colors, and badge design, in a presentation held at the Space Needle.[31] The "FC" in the team moniker stands for Football Club, but the team name is officially Seattle Sounders FC. The badge design resembles a heraldic shield and consists of two layers which represent "the partnership between the ownership, the community, the players and the fans."[32] The logo incorporates the Space Needle, an internationally recognized Seattle landmark. The official team colors are Sounder Blue, signifying the waters of the Puget Sound; Rave Green, representing the forests of the Pacific Northwest; and Cascade Shale, representing the Cascade Range to the east of Seattle.[32]

Fans chose a name for the team in an online poll held between March 27 and 31, 2008. The initial list of possibilities – Seattle FC, Seattle Republic and Seattle Alliance – deliberately did not include Seattle Sounders in order to provide a "fresh start." Despite the names having been selected through fan research and internal committees, the omission of the traditional Sounders name rankled many in the Seattle community.[33][34] In response to the backlash, the team added a fourth "write-in" option for the team name, allowing for any name to be suggested on the ballot.[35] Of the over 14,500 votes received for the new team name, 49% of the votes included some form of the name Sounders.[36] Upon announcing the name, Hanauer acknowledged the significance of keeping with tradition: "The team playing at the highest level in our region has always been called Sounders. Starting with the NASL and then the USL 1st Division, we now have the chance to create a separate and distinct identity with the new MLS team."[37]

Team ownership revealed the first Sounders FC jersey on May 28, 2008, and announced Microsoft as the team's sponsor in a five-year deal worth approximately $20 million.[38] As part of the agreement, the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live brands appear on the front of Sounders FC's jerseys and throughout the stadium.[39]

Sigi Schmid Era[edit]

New York Red Bulls kick-off to start the 2009 MLS season against Seattle

Inaugural MLS campaign[edit]

The Sounders began their inaugural MLS campaign during the 2009 MLS season. Prior to the opening match, the Sounders sold all 22,000 of their season ticket packages.[40] The 22,000 ticket holders, gave the Sounders a record for the most season ticket holders ever in MLS history.[41] They played their first home match on March 19, 2009, to a sold-out crowd of 32,523, defeating the 2008 MLS Cup runners-up, New York Red Bulls, by a 3–0 margin.[42] Seattle was the first MLS expansion team to win their first three games, and they did so with a shutout in each.[43] Fredy Montero scored the first regular season goal in team history, finishing a movement from Sebastien Le Toux and Osvaldo Alonso in the 12th minute. Montero assisted Brad Evans' goal, and also scored the team's third goal. Kasey Keller, a veteran American goalkeeper who had played his entire career abroad, made his MLS debut at 39 years of age, and made two saves to register the team's first regular season shutout.[44]

March 2009 saw Montero winning Player of the Week honors for week 1 and Keller for week 2.[45][46] Montero won Goal of the Week for the first two games and was named the Player of the Month.[47]

After their first two victories at home, Sounders FC played their MLS away fixture against Toronto FC. The Sounders expected a challenging away environment, but were victorious in a 2–0 shutout. Soon after, reports out of Seattle linked Montero to a sexual assault case with an unidentified woman. In a statement made by Sounders publicist, Montero asserted that the allegations stemmed from a disagreement in which he sought to end the relationship.[48] and a police inquiry resulted in no charges being filed. Seattle Sounders FC suffered their first competitive loss at home against the Kansas City Wizards. Kasey Keller was sent off in the 29th minute for a handball outside the 18-yard box, as the Sounders fell 1–0 to the Wizards. The following week they lost at Chivas USA. Chris Eylander was scored on twice while covering the goal during Keller's suspension. The Sounders again failed to score.

The Sounders returned to their winning ways in a 2–0 home win versus the San Jose Earthquakes.

It was announced in early July that the Sounders had signed left-footed Costa Rican defender Leonardo González to help at the left back position. The position had been a weak spot in Seattle's defense and filled by three separate players throughout the season.[49]

On July 11, the Sounders hosted the Houston Dynamo at Qwest Field. Brian Schmetzer filled in for Schmid who was at his son's wedding. Ianni scored his first goal of the season on bicycle kick that would earn him the MLS goal of the Week.[50] On the following Tuesday, the Sounders defeated the Dynamo at Strfire in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals. Houston led when Jaqua scored in the 89th minute. King scored a goal five minutes into extra time, thus sending the Sounders FC to the Open Cup finals against D.C. United.[51]

On July 18, 2009 the Seattle Sounders lost 0–2 in a friendly with Chelsea. All sections of the stadium were open and sold out with a crowd of 65,289 in attendance.[52] The game was the first with the team for Chelsea's new manager, Carlo Ancelotti, and their new forward Daniel Sturridge.[53]

The club set a state record for attendance at a soccer match on August 5, 2009, when 66,848 attended a friendly match with FC Barcelona.[54]

On September 2, 2009, Sounders FC became the second MLS expansion team in league history (Chicago was first) to win the U.S. Open Cup tournament in their first season.[55] They did so by defeating D.C. United 2–1 on the road at RFK Stadium.[56] In winning the U.S. Open Cup tournament, they qualified for the preliminary round of the 2010–11 CONCACAF Champions League.[55]

On October 17, 2009, Sounders FC became the second MLS expansion team in league history (again, Chicago had been first) to qualify for the playoffs in their first season. They clinched a playoff berth with a come-from-behind victory over the Kansas City Wizards 3–2 at Kansas City.[57] Seattle finished the regular season with a record of 12 wins, 7 losses, and 11 ties. The club set a new MLS record for average attendance at 30,943 fans per game.[58] Their inaugural season came to an end in the 2009 MLS Cup Playoffs when they lost in the conference semifinals to the Houston Dynamo with a 1–0 aggregate score in a two-legged series.[59] During the 2009 season, all 15 Sounders FC MLS regular season home matches, their home playoff match, and their 4 home U.S. Open Cup matches (played at Starfire Sports Complex) were sold out.[60]

First U.S. Open Cup Title[edit]

Sounders FC captain, Kasey Keller and midfielder Osvaldo Alonso hoist the 2009 U.S. Open Cup trophy

During the Sounders FC first season in MLS, the club won their first ever U.S. Open Cup title, including any past Sounders franchise. The team was also the first club in modern Open Cup history to win the tournament after playing through a string of qualification propers to enter at the third round proper.

Prior to their first qualification match against Real Salt Lake, Schmid asserted that the Open Cup was extremely critical to the club and that they were playing to win. One of the reasons the club cited, was the opportunity to qualify into the CONCACAF Champions League upon winning the Open Cup title.[61] Sounders FC played U.S. Open Cup home games at the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Washington. The facility is older and smaller than the club's home stadium for league matches, Qwest Field, but Sounders FC representatives preferred the atmosphere at Starfire for smaller cup matches.[62]

In the first qualification proper, on April 28, 2009; the Sounders defeated Salt Lake 4–1. Sebastian Le Toux scored two goals, and Roger Levesque had three assists in front of a sold-out crowd at Starfire.[63] Sounders FC hosted their second qualification match on May 26, 2009, also at Starfire, this time against the Colorado Rapids. Reserve player Kevin Forrest scored the only goal in the match as Seattle defeated the Rapids 1–0, securing their entry into the third round proper of the official cup competition as one of the eight teams representing MLS.[64]

One of the most unforgettable matches for the Sounders, was the third round proper fixture against their longstanding rivals, the Portland Timbers. Considered their most bitter rival over the past 30 years, it was the first time in four years that any Sounders or Timbers club competed against one another in the Open Cup. Traveling south to Portland, the Sounders claimed it would be one of the toughest matches of the entire tournament. In front of a sold out crowd on July 1, 2009; the Sounders were able to defeat the Timbers 2–1, thanks to goals from Levesque and Nate Jaqua.[65] The following week, in a quarterfinal match at Starfire, Sounders FC defeated visiting Kansas City 1–0 on a penalty kick in the 89th minute scored by Sebastien Le Toux.[66] Three weeks later, on July 21, Sounders FC won their semifinal match 2–1 over the Houston Dynamo at Starfire. Seattle took the lead for good when Stephen King scored a goal five minutes into extra time, sending Sounders FC to the cup final.[67]

On September 2, 2009, Sounders FC became the second MLS expansion team in league history (Chicago was first) to win the U.S. Open Cup tournament in their first season.[55] They did so by defeating D.C. United 2–1 on the road at RFK Stadium.[56] In winning the U.S. Open Cup tournament, they qualified for the preliminary round of the 2010–11 CONCACAF Champions League.[55]

2010 season and return to Champions League[edit]

Fans in a stadium display a large banner. In the center is a picture of Thor wearing a green jersey and smashing the Union logo. It reads "Smash the Union" in the center, "Seattle" vertically on the left, and "Sounders" on the right.
The Emerald City Supporters display their tifo before the first game of the 2010 MLS season at Qwest Field between Seattle Sounders FC and the Philadelphia Union.

For the second consecutive year, the Sounders were chosen to host MLS First Kick, the opening match of the MLS season, which was held on Thursday, March 25 and nationally televised on ESPN2.[68][69] Joe Roth, Sounders FC Majority Owner stated, "Being selected to participate in the first match of the season is a testament to the passion and energy of our fans."[69] Their opponent was the expansion franchise Philadelphia Union, the league's 16th team as they played in their inaugural match.[68] Seattle won the match 2–0 with goals scored by Brad Evans in the 12th minute and Freddy Montero in the 43rd minute. The attendance of 36,241 set a team record for an MLS regular-season or postseason game.[70]

2010 started off rough for the Sounders, first with a home loss to New York Red Bulls on April 2,[71] and subsequently relinquishing a two-goal lead against defending MLS Cup champions, Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto.[72] In spite of knocking off Kansas City's unbeaten streak, the same situation would happen against Dallas, where the Sounders would play to another two-goal draw.

The following week, on April 17, Seattle returned home to face the undefeated Kansas City Wizards. The game appeared to be ending a scoreless tie until late substitute Michael Fucito scored his first career goal in 92nd minute of the match off a throw in from Brad Evans. Sounders FC defeated Kansas City 1–0.[73] The following week, Seattle had two road games in a 4-day period. First they traveled to Frisco, TX to face FC Dallas on April 22. Steve Zakuani and Fredy Montero scored for Sounders FC while Jeff Cunningham scored two penalty kicks for Dallas, the second of which coming in extra time on a questionable call. The Dallas game ended in a 2–2 tie.[74] During the second leg of the road trip on April 25, Sounders FC was defeated 2–0 by Toronto FC at BMO Field. Seattle conceded their first ever goal to Toronto when Dwayne De Rosario scored in the 58th minute. He later assisted O'Brian White on a second goal in the 76th minute.[75]

Sounders FC began May with a tie at home against the Columbus Crew. Steve Zakuani scored an early breakaway goal in the 8th minute to take the lead. However, Seattle's stoppage time problems continued as the Crew's Steven Lenhart scored off a header in the first minute of stoppage time before the half. The game ended 1–1.[76]

The following week, on May 8, Sounders FC hosted the Los Angeles Galaxy. Seattle's continued inability to score and their recent trend of defensive breakdowns culminated in an embarrassing 4–0 loss to the Galaxy. This was Seattle's worst ever defeat at home and it was played in front of a team record attendance for a regular season match of 36,273 fans.[77] Sounders FC newcomer Miguel Montaño made his debut with the club in the defeat to the Galaxy.[78] The day after the lopsided defeat to Los Angeles, Sounders FC owner Adrian Hanauer announced a refund for all 32,000 season ticket holders for the embarrassment and indicated that changes were in the works for the club.[79]

Three days later, May 26, the team participated in their first friendly match of the season, winning it 3–0 in a shutout against Boca Juniors. Roger Levesque, Pat Noonan and Mike Seamon each scored goals, the latter in his debut for the team.[80] The team ended the month with another 1–0 loss on May 29, this one against the Colorado Rapids, on the road; Conor Casey scored the only goal of the match.[81]

Sounders FC regrouped from the difficult loss to LA the next week when they visited the New York Red Bulls. Fredy Montero's absence from the starting lineup was a surprising change in the match. Montero, however, was subbed on late in the game and provided the winning goal in the 85th minute for a 1–0 victory.[82] During the first game of the 2010 Heritage Cup on May 22, the team lost 1–0 to the San Jose Earthquakes at Qwest. Chris Wondolowski scored 11 minutes in the match, lengthening the "scoring drought" for the Sounders FC at home.[83][84]

2011 and recent events[edit]

For more details on this topic, see 2011 Seattle Sounders FC season.

On November 22, 2010, Seattle made a trade with the Colorado Rapids for defenders Julien Baudet of France and Danny Earls of the Republic of Ireland for Peter Vagenas.[85] Also, the list of the ten protected players for the 2010 MLS Expansion Draft was decided by the club. The draft took place on November 24, 2010 when both the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps FC sectected ten players from the Major League Soccer teams, including Sanna Nyassi (who was later traded to Colorado) and Nathan Sturgis (who was later traded to Toronto) from Seattle Sounders FC.[86] Vancouver later traded Jamaican international O'Brian White to Seattle.[87]

On December 9, 2010, Swedish club, BK Häcken reported that midfielder, Erik Friberg completed a three-year deal with the Seattle Sounders FC. Seattle has completed a deal bringing him over to the Seattle-based club. They also have announced a contract extension with captain Kasey Keller. On December 15, 2010, the Sounders selected Chris Seitz of the Philadelphia Union in the 2010 MLS Re-Entry Draft.[88] The goalkeeper was later traded to FC Dallas for a fourth round pick of the 2012 MLS SuperDraft.[89] Defender Tyrone Marshall was also selected in the draft by the Colorado Rapids.[88]

Sounders Uniform Evolution[edit]

Kits used by various Sounders' franchises over the years:

Alt. 1983
USL Home
USL Away
MLS Home
MLS Home
MLS Home
Alt. 2011–12
MLS Home
MLS Home
Alt. 2013–
MLS Away
MLS Away
MLS Away
MLS Third
MLS Third

Sounders Season-by-Season Results[edit]

Outdoor seasons[edit]

Season Regular Season Playoffs U.S. Open
CONCACAF Top goalscorer[90]
League GP W L T GF GA Pts Pos Name Goals
1974 NASL 20 10 7 3 37 17 101 3rd; West
5th; Overall
John Rowlands[91] 10
1975 NASL 22 15 7 0[92] 42 28 129[93] 2nd; West
3rd; Overall
QF John Rowlands[94] 9
1976 NASL 24 14 10 0 40 31 123 2nd; West
6th; Overall
C-SF Gordon Wallace[2] 13
1977 NASL 26 14 12 0 43 34 123 3rd; Division
4th; Conf.
5th; Overall
Runners-up Micky Cave[95] 12
1978 NASL 30 15 15 0 50 45 138 3rd; Division
7th; Conf.
12th; Overall
Micky Cave[96] 13
1979 NASL 30 13 17 0 58 52 125 3rd; Division
9th; Conf.
16th; Overall
John Ryan[97] 12
1980 NASL 32 25 7 0 74 31 203 1st; Division
2nd; Conf.
2nd; Overall
QF Roger Davies[98] 25
1981 NASL 32 15 17 0 60 62 137 4th; Division
11th; Overall
R1 Bob Donaldson 16
1982 NASL 32 18 14 0 72 48 166 1st; Division
2nd; Overall
Runners-up Bob Donaldson 16
1983 NASL 30 12 18 0 62 61 119 3rd; Division
9th; Overall
Bob Donaldson 16
No Sounders franchise existed between 1984–1993
1994 APSL 20 14 6 0 38 16 121 1st SF Chance Fry 11
1995 A-League 24 20 4 0 40 24 51[99] 2nd Champions SF Peter Hattrup 11
1996 A-League 27 16 11 0 45 25 40 3rd Champions QF 4th Jason Farrell 6
1997 USISL 28 21 7 0 42 19 50 2nd; Division
4th; Overall[100]
SF R2 Mike Gailey 10
1998 USISL 28 18 10 0 63 28 52 2nd; Division
6th; Overall[101]
C-SF Mark Baena 24
1999 A-League 32 19 9 0 56 36 81 3rd; Division
4th; Overall[102]
QF R3 Niall Thompson 20
2000 A-League 20 10 7 3[103] 56 36 81 1st; Division
4th; Overall[104]
C-SF R2 Greg Howes 17
2001 A-League 26 13 12 1 40 39 57 5th; Conf.
12th; Overall
R2 Leighton O'Brien 11
2002 A-League 26 23 1 4 71 27 107 1st; Division
1st; Conf.
1st; Overall
C-SF R3 Brian Ching 16
2003 A-League 28 16 7 5 45 24 53 1st; Division
2nd; Conf.
3rd; Overall
SF QF Brian Ching 16
2004 A-League 28 16 7 5 45 24 53 4th; Conf.
9th; Overall
Runners-up Welton Melo 5
2005 USL-1 28 11 6 11 33 25 44 4th Champions R3 Welton Melo 5
2006 USL-1 28 11 13 4 42 48 37 7th R3 Cam Weaver 18
2007 USL-1 28 16 6 6 37 23 54 1st Champions SF Sébastien Le Toux 10
2008 USL-1 30 10 10 10 37 36 40 5th QF SF Sébastien Le Toux 14
2009 MLS 30 12 7 11 38 29 47 3rd; Conf.
4th; Overall
QF Champions Fredy Montero 12
2010 MLS 30 14 10 6 39 35 48 4th; Conf.
6th; Overall
QF Champions Runners-up GS Fredy Montero
Steve Zakuani
2011 MLS 34 18 7 9 56 37 63 2nd; Conf.
2nd; Overall
QF Champions Champions QF Fredy Montero 12
2012 MLS 34 15 8 11 51 33 56 3rd; Conf.
7th; Overall
SF Runners-Up SF Eddie Johnson 14
2013 MLS 34 15 12 7 42 42 52 4th; Conf.
6th; Overall
QF R3 Eddie Johnson 9
2014 MLS 34 20 10 4 65 50 64 1st Conf.; 1st Overall SF Champions Oba Martins 17

Indoor seasons[edit]

Season Regular Season Playoffs Top goalscorer[90]
League GP W L T GF GA Pts Pos Name Goals
1980–81 NASL
18 9 9 0 106 98 .500[105] 4th; Division
11th; Overall
Bob Donaldson 16
1981–82 NASL
18 9 9 0 95 97 .500 3rd; Division
4th; Conf.
7th; Overall
Bob Donaldson 16


Head Coaches[edit]

Name Nat. Years Record (W–L–T)
John Best England 1974–1976 (39–24–3)
Jimmy Gabriel Scotland 1977–1979 (42–44–0)
Alan Hinton England 1980–1982 (76–56–0)
Laurie Calloway England 1983 (12–18–0)
Alan Hinton England 1994–1995 (34–10–0)
Neil Megson United States 1996–2000 (84–44–3)
Bernie James United States 2001 (13–12–1)
Brian Schmetzer United States 2002–2008 (103–50–45)
Sigi Schmid Germany 2009– (44–24–26)


Name Nat. Years
John Rowlands Wales 1974–1976
Micky Cave England 1977–1980
Bob Donaldson Scotland 1979–1983
Kevin Bond England 1981
Peter Hattrup ¤ United States 1984–1989, 1994–1995, 1997–1999, 2001
Marcus Hahnemann ¤ United States 1994–1996, 2012–2014
Brian Ching United States 2001–2002
Leighton O'Brien United States 2001–2008
Zach Scott ¤ United States 2002–
Roger Levesque ¤ United States 2003–2012
Wélton Brazil 2004–2005
Taylor Graham ¤ United States 2005, 2007–2011
Sébastien Le Toux ¤ France 2007–2009
Kasey Keller United States 2009–2011
Fredy Montero Colombia 2009–2012
Steve Zakuani Democratic Republic of the Congo 2009–2013
Fredrik Ljungberg Sweden 2009–2010
Blaise Nkufo Switzerland 2010–2011

¤ Played for two distinct Sounders franchises



CONCACAF Champions Cup

  • 4th-place (1): 1996


U.S. Open Cup




Supporters Shield

  • Supporters Shield (1): 2014


Soccer Bowl


USL First Division Playoffs

  • Winner (4): 1995, 1996, 2005, 2007
  • Runner Up (1): 2004

USL Commissioner's Cup (Best USL Regular Season Record)

  • Winner (3): 1994, 2002, 2007
  • Runner Up (1): 1995


Cascadia Cup

  • Winner (3): 2006, 2007, 2011, 2015

Heritage Cup

  • Winner (3): 2010, 2011, 2013

Seattle Reign FC, 2013–present[edit]

Main article: Seattle Reign FC

In November 2012, it was confirmed that a Seattle-based women's professional soccer team owned by Bill Predmore (founder and CEO of Seattle-based digital marketing agency, POP) had been accepted into a new women's professional soccer league, later named National Women's Soccer League.[106][107] Former general manager of the Seattle Sounders Women and Seattle Sounders FC Director of Youth Programs,[108] Amy Carnell, was named General Manager and Laura Harvey head coach. About a week before the season began, Carnell resigned and Harvey took on many of her responsibilities similar to her role with Arsenal Ladies.

Reign FC played their first season at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, Washington.[109] The stadium is located approximately 12 miles from downtown Seattle and is the training facility for Seattle Sounders FC, as well as where the Sounders play their U.S. Open Cup matches.

For the 2014 season, they moved to Memorial Stadium on the Seattle Center grounds.[110]

Reign Season-by-Season Results[edit]

Year League Regular Season Playoffs Avg. Attendance
2013 NWSL 7th Place Did not qualify 2,306
2014 NWSL 1st Place TBD TBD

Seattle Impact[edit]

Main article: Seattle Impact

In 2014, the Major Arena Soccer League awarded an expansion to former Tacoma Star player Dion Earl. The Seattle Impact played its inaugural season at the ShoWare Center. However, in January 2015, the team was sold to the semi-professional Tacoma Stars, who completed the season under the Stars' name.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://soundercentral.com/museum/1974OriginalSounders.htm
  2. ^ a b c http://homepages.sover.net/~spectrum/year/1976.html
  3. ^ http://soundercentral.com/museum/1977updates/Soccer%20Bowl%201977/soccer_bowl_1977.htm
  4. ^ HistoryLink.org Essay 4219 : Printer-Friendly Format Heather Johnson contributed this People's History of the soccer team, the Seattle Sounders.
  5. ^ Seattle drew 58,128 fans to the new Kingdome for a pre-season exhibition against New York. Large crowds could be found throughout the season at a number of NASL grounds. New York averaged 18,226 per game at Yankee Stadium, while the Sounders proved they could bring people to the massive Kingdome by averaging 23,826 per match. Minnesota proved a pleasant surprise at the gate, averaging 23,117 per game, including 42,065 for its regular season finale. Overall, attendance was up by 38%, to 10,980 per game. Not everyone was successful, however: Philadelphia, Boston, Miami, Chicago, San Antonio and Hartford drew dismally. Particularly disheartening-and ominous, given the new popularity of the league-was the collapse of the Atoms and Toros, who had once been among the league’s attendance leaders. In light of the other club’s successes, however, any lessons about fickle fan bases and the "fad" nature of some of the sport’s new popularity were lost on NASL owners.
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External links[edit]