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 (1974-1983)[edit]

On December 11, 1973, a group of Seattle investors led by Walt Daggatt were granted rights to a franchise in the North American Soccer League, one of three (including the Vancouver Whitecaps and San Jose Earthquakes) heralding the expansion of America's struggling top-tier soccer league to the west coast.[1][2] With a budget under $500,000, the investors searched existing American and British teams to assemble a coaching squad and assemble a lineup. Longtime NASL All-Star player John Best was hired as coach and recruited former Everton star Jimmy Gabriel, 1969 NASL MVP Pepe Fernandez, Crewe defender Dave Gillett and Hartepool goalkeeper Barry Watling, among others.[3]

On January 22, 1974, the team was christened Seattle Sounders, the moniker having won a highly publicized "name the team" contest (Seattle Mariners, the eventual name of the city's second baseball team, was a runner-up). The "lads" (so-called because the team were largely English players) were introduced to the media and the public in early Spring, announcing they would play their first home game on May 5th. At the time, soccer was largely ignored by the national media, and the game was understood and played by a very small percentage of the population; but Seattle's post-war immigrants from Scandinavia and Britain had brought awareness of soccer, and a youth soccer league had started in 1966. [4] Whether professional soccer could work in Seattle was anyone's guess.

The answer came at the club's inaugural game, when the Sounders took on the Denver Dynamos in Memorial Stadium, whose capacity of 13000 was considered ample for a sport which had never averaged more than 3000-5000 in other American cities. Over 12000 came to the opening match, the start of which was delayed to allow the unexpectedly large walk-up crowd to enter the stands. Longtime Seattle sportswriter Royal Brougham introduced the team to great fanfare, though he was booed when he chose to sing, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame", as Seattle sports fans were still embittered over the loss a few years earlier of the Seattle Pilots Major League Baseball team. It appeared Seattle was ready to embrace a different summer sport.

The Sounders won their home opener 4-1, and fans were hooked. By early summer, the Sounders stunned the American sports community by posting the first-ever sellout of a stadium for a soccer game, drawing 13,498 to their game against the defending champion Philadelphia Atoms. The Sounders proved successful on the field as well, with a 10–7–3 record, and Barry Watling won Goalkeeper of the Year honors with an astounding 0.80 goals against average. 36000 tickets were printed in anticipation of a home playoff game to be held in Husky Stadium. Despite their winning record, the NASL points system meant Seattle was edged out of the final playoff spot on the last day of the season, and they finished in third place in the highly competitive Western Conference that year.

The Sounders returned in 1975 with the addition of Tottenham Hotspur defender and UEFA Cup winner Mike England to anchor the defensive midfield. The success of the Sounders and other western teams led other teams to boost their lineups as well, including the signing of Pele by the New York Cosmos. Memorial Stadium was expanded several times, eventually growing to hold 17,925, and sold out every game; amazingly, it never rained on a Sounders game in this outdoor facility. On the field, the Sounders were one of the league's better teams, posting a 15–7 record and making their first playoff appearance at Portland; their 2-1 loss in the quarterfinals cemented the Portland Timbers-Seattle Sounders rivalry which grew to become American soccer's most storied derby. Two indoor soccer exhibition games were played as a training exercise that winter as well, marking the origins of that version of the sport.

The Sounders' success helped Daggatt and his partners get the NFL Seattle Seahawks franchise, and both teams started play in the Kingdome in 1976. The first sporting event held at the Kingdome was a Sounders match against the Cosmos on April 9; 58,128 fans packed the Kingdome that day to investigate the new building and get a look at Pele, who scored two goals to lead the Cosmos to a 3-1 victory. Important player signings included former English World Cup 1966 star Geoff Hurst and goalkeeper Tony Chursky who would lead the league with a 0.91 goals against average. The Sounders also led the NASL in attendance in 1976 with 23,826 fans per match, [5] and the team held its first home playoff game, a 2-1 victory over the rival Vancouver Whitecaps, reaching the Divisional Championships of the 1976 NASL playoffs before falling short on the road to the Minnesota Kicks 3–0.[5] The Kicks then returned to the Kingdome for Soccer Bowl '76, where they lost before an unsupportive Seattle crowd of 25000 to the Toronto Metros-Croatia.

Jimmy Gabriel assumed the coaching duties from John Best in the 1977 season. The club started slowly, losing 7 of their first 11 games; but a 10-5 tear placed them at 14-12 for the season, and fans continued to come out in large numbers, in part to see the team's first homegrown star, Seattle native and 1977 NASL Rookie of the Year Jimmy McAlister. Upsetting the favored L.A. Aztecs on the road in the conference final, they then edged them at home 1-0 before 56,000 fans, winning the Pacific Conference Championship and making it to their first ever championship game. Thousands of Seattle fans drove to Portland, the site of Soccer Bowl '77, to see them play the New York Cosmos before an international audience in what was to be Pele's last game. [6]

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.[7] However, when it came time have a petition to sign with the league, the Seattle organizers only managed to secure 1,300 assurances.[8] 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.[9]

Failing to reach the minimum 10,000-signatures, Seattle was consequently excluded among the first seven cities to be awarded an MLS club.[10] 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.[11]

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.[12] In the end, Seattle was not among the cities chosen to establish a team during the first season of the MLS.[13]

Second attempt for MLS franchise[edit]

Upon completion in 2002, Qwest Field was also designed for soccer, providing separate amenities for soccer teams.[14][15]

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.[16] Many state voters supported the referendum to construct the Seahawks Stadium, because it was expected to double as a professional soccer venue.[17] 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.[17]

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.[18] 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.[19]

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.[20]

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.[21]

Today, Schmetzer is presently the head coach for the MLS Sounders.[22]

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

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.[23] The first leg in Seattle was a solid start for the Sounders, as they cruised to a 2–0 win.[23] 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.[23]

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.[24] That season, defender Taylor Graham won the league's "Defender of the Year" award[24] as well and was named to the "USL First Division Best XI" that year, too.[24] In 2005, the Sounders finished in fourth place,[24] and went on to win the championship against the Richmond Kickers in penalty kicks.[24]

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[25]]].

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.[26]

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.[27] 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.[28] 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.[29]

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.[30][31]

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.[32] 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."[33] 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.[33]

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.[34][35] 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.[36] Of the over 14,500 votes received for the new team name, 49% of the votes included some form of the name Sounders.[37] 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."[38]

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.[39] 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.[40]

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.[41] The 22,000 ticket holders, gave the Sounders a record for the most season ticket holders ever in MLS history.[42] 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.[43] Seattle was the first MLS expansion team to win their first three games, and they did so with a shutout in each.[44] 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.[45]

March 2009 saw Montero winning Player of the Week honors for week 1 and Keller for week 2.[46][47] Montero won Goal of the Week for the first two games and was named the Player of the Month.[48]

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.[49] 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.[50]

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.[51] 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.[52]

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.[53] The game was the first with the team for Chelsea's new manager, Carlo Ancelotti, and their new forward Daniel Sturridge.[54]

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.[55]

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.[56] They did so by defeating D.C. United 2–1 on the road at RFK Stadium.[57] In winning the U.S. Open Cup tournament, they qualified for the preliminary round of the 2010–11 CONCACAF Champions League.[56]

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.[58] 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.[59] 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.[60] 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.[61]

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.[62] 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.[63]

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.[64] 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.[65]

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.[66] 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.[67] 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.[68]

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.[56] They did so by defeating D.C. United 2–1 on the road at RFK Stadium.[57] In winning the U.S. Open Cup tournament, they qualified for the preliminary round of the 2010–11 CONCACAF Champions League.[56]

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.[69][70] 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."[70] Their opponent was the expansion franchise Philadelphia Union, the league's 16th team as they played in their inaugural match.[69] 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.[71]

2010 started off rough for the Sounders, first with a home loss to New York Red Bulls on April 2,[72] and subsequently relinquishing a two-goal lead against defending MLS Cup champions, Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto.[73] 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.[74] 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.[75] 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.[76]

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.[77]

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.[78] Sounders FC newcomer Miguel Montaño made his debut with the club in the defeat to the Galaxy.[79] 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.[80]

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.[81] 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.[82]

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.[83] 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.[84][85]

2011-12: Early years[edit]

For more details on this topic, see 2011 Seattle Sounders FC season and 2012 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.[86] 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.[87] Vancouver later traded Jamaican international O'Brian White to Seattle.[88]

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.[89] The goalkeeper was later traded to FC Dallas for a fourth round pick of the 2012 MLS SuperDraft.[90] Defender Tyrone Marshall was also selected in the draft by the Colorado Rapids.[89]

The Sounders also competed in two additional competitions during the 2010 season – the CONCACAF Champions League and the U.S. Open Cup. In the Champions League, Seattle progressed through the preliminary round, beating Isidro Metapán 2–1 on aggregate, but was eliminated in the group stage.[91] In the U.S. Open Cup, Seattle won matches at Portland and at home against the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA before reaching the final, which they hosted at CenturyLink Field against the Columbus Crew. On October 5, 2010, Seattle won the U.S. Open Cup final, 2–1, becoming the first team since 1983 to repeat as U.S. Open Cup champions.[92] The final was played in front of a U.S. Open Cup record crowd of 31,311,[93] and the victory ensured Seattle's return to the Champions League in 2011.[94]

Several players are standing together with three trophies on the ground in front of them
Sounders FC players with the '09, '10, and '11 U.S. Open Cup trophies.

The Sounders began the 2011 season by hosting the opening match of the MLS season for the third straight year.[95] The club hosted the Los Angeles Galaxy, and lost 1–0.[96] On April 22, 2011, in a match against the Colorado Rapids, Seattle's star midfielder Steve Zakuani suffered a broken leg in a challenge by the Rapids' Brian Mullan, which ended his season.[97] Despite setbacks and a slow start to the season (the club won just 3 of its first 10 matches), the Sounders went on to finish the season with the second-best record in the league at 18 wins, 9 draws, 7 losses, and qualified for the playoffs for a third consecutive year.[98] On October 4, 2011, Seattle won its third consecutive U.S. Open Cup, becoming the first club to do so in 42 years, as they defeated the Chicago Fire 2–0 in front of another tournament record crowd of 35,615 at CenturyLink Field.[99] In the MLS playoffs, Seattle lost its Western Conference semi-final series 3–2 on aggregate to Real Salt Lake. The club dug itself a hole by losing 3–0 in Salt Lake, and could only net two goals in the second leg at home.[100]

Sounders midfielder Mauro Rosales was recognized by the league as the 2011 Newcomer of the Year.[101] In 2011, Seattle again broke its own league record for average attendance at 38,496. On October 15, 2011, the club hosted the third-largest crowd ever for a single MLS match, as 64,140 attended the final regular season home match.[102] In the 2011–12 CONCACAF Champions League, the club finished second in its group and advanced to the knockout round, which was played starting in March 2012.[103][104] In champions league group play, Seattle became only the second MLS team in history to win a competitive match in Mexico, defeating CF Monterrey 1–0 on August 23, 2011.[105]

During the 2012 season, the Sounders finished third in the conference, seventh overall in MLS, were finalists once again in the U.S. Open Cup, reached the quarter finals in the CONCACAF Champions League and runners-up in both the Cascadia Cup and Heritage Cup.[citation needed] The top scorer in league play was 28-year-old striker Eddie Johnson, who scored 14 goals.[citation needed]

2013: Arrival of Clint Dempsey[edit]

For more details on this topic, see 2013 Seattle Sounders FC season.

In 2013, the Sounders completed the largest transfer deal ever in the history of MLS, paying $9 million to Tottenham Hotspur for Clint Dempsey,[106] captain of the U.S. national team and considered one of the best American players to date. The Sounders agreed to pay Dempsey the fourth-largest salary to date in MLS, approximately $5 million per year until 2016.[107]

Seattle Sounders continued breaking the MLS attendance record for the fourth and fifth consecutive year in 2012 and 2013 with the average crowd of 43,144 and 44,038 respectively.[108]

2014: First MLS Supporters Shield[edit]

After a disappointing 2013 season, the Sounders replaced starting goalkeeper Michael Gspurning with Toronto's Stefan Frei. Several veteran players, including Eddie Johnson, Patrick Ianni, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Mauro Rosales, and Steve Zakuani, left the club as part of a major restructure; Brad Evans was named as club captain.[109] Marco Pappa, an experienced MLS player and Guatemalan international, was added to the team. Homegrown player DeAndre Yedlin was transferred overseas to Tottenham Hotspur at the end of the season.[110]

The Sounders advanced to the 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final and defeated the Philadelphia Union in extra time, to win their fourth trophy of the tournament. On October 25, 2014, the final game of the 2014 regular season, the Sounders defeated the LA Galaxy 2–0 to secure and win their first Supporters' Shield.[111]

Entering the playoffs as the top seed, Seattle defeated FC Dallas on the away goals rule and advanced to the Western Conference Championship to face the LA Galaxy once again. The Sounders lost on aggregate score and the away goals rule after losing 1–0 away and winning 2–1 at home. LA would go on to win the MLS Cup.[112]

2015: Continued Playoff Frustration[edit]

Former Real Salt Lake general manager Garth Lagerwey was hired by the club in January 2015, replacing Adrian Hanauer.[113]

Seattle was unable to repeat their successes in the 2014 season. The season started successfully, with several key wins that saw the team at the top of the Western Conference by June.[114] During a 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match against the Portland Timbers on June 16, however, Obafemi Martins left the game with a groin injury and Clint Dempsey was suspended after tearing a referee's pocketbook, though he would be called away for the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.[115][116]

The injury and suspension of the team's main attacking duo led to a death spiral during the summer, with Seattle winning only one match in nine games. By late August, Martins had recovered and led the team to an 8-match unbeaten streak to secure a playoff spot, finishing 4th in the Western Conference. The Sounders had also successfully topped their group in the 2015–16 CONCACAF Champions League, beating the Vancouver Whitecaps and Club Deportivo Olimpia, with two wins, one draw, and one loss.[117] Paraguayan international Nelson Haedo Valdez was signed as the club's newest designated player, and was joined by fellow international signings Andreas Ivanschitz and Román Torres in August 2015;[118] Erik Friberg also returned to the club after his stint in Europe.[119]

During the playoff's opening knockout round, the Sounders defeated the LA Galaxy 3–2, ending a "curse" for the club, who had lost to LA in each of the three previous playoff matchups.[120] The playoff run would end in the next round, the Western Conference semifinals against FC Dallas, during a penalty shootout after both teams were tied on aggregate score after extra time in Frisco, Texas.[121][122]

In November 2015, Adrian Hanauer was made majority owner of the club, succeeding Joe Roth.[123] The club set a new attendance record during the 2015 season, with an average attendance of 44,247.[124]

2016: Departure of Schmid[edit]

Prior to the 2016 season, Obafemi Martins abruptly left the club to sign with Shanghai Greenland Shenhua F.C. in the Chinese Super League,[125] a move that would hamper the Sounders' offense during the season. The move was mitigated somewhat by the signing of homegrown product Jordan Morris.[126] GM Lagerwey also traded Marco Pappa and Lamar Neagle to other clubs in the offseason.[127]

During the first half of the 2016 season, the Sounders failed to meet expectations, placing near the bottom of the league with 6 wins, 12 losses, and 2 draws. After a 3–0 loss on July 24 to Sporting Kansas City, in which the Sounders had only one shot,[128] Schmid left the club on mutual terms and was replaced by assistant coach Brian Schmetzer.[129]

Brian Schmetzer Era[edit]

2016: Promotion of Schmetzer, League Comeback and First MLS Cup[edit]

Main article: MLS Cup 2016

Long-time assistant coach Brian Schmetzer was promoted to interim head coach.[130] The same day, the club announced their signing of Uruguayan midfielder Nicolás Lodeiro on a designated player contract,[131] as well as the return of former designated player Álvaro Fernández.[132] Despite the sluggish start as well as the loss of midfielder Clint Dempsey, who was forced in August to stop playing after evaluations for an irregular heartbeat,[133] the Sounders turned their season around with 8 wins, 2 losses, and 4 draws. In the process, they came back from 9th to 4th in the Western Conference and qualified for the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs. Schmetzer was named as permanent head coach as a result.[134]

At the regular season's end, Jordan Morris was named the MLS Rookie of the Year after scoring the most goals of any American rookie in MLS (12),[135] and Nicolás Lodeiro was named MLS Newcomer of the Year for his 4 goals and 8 assists in 13 appearances.[136]

During the Knockout Round of the playoffs, the Sounders drew Sporting Kansas City. Both teams were held scoreless until Nelson Valdez, who had not scored all year, made the go-ahead goal at the 88th minute.[137] The Sounders then faced the 2016 Supporters' Shield and U.S. Open Cup winners FC Dallas in the Conference Semi-Final, a rematch of the year before. The Sounders defeated FC Dallas 3-0 at home and 4-2 on aggregate, advancing to the Western Conference Final.[138] The Sounders then defeated the Colorado Rapids 2-1 on aggregate, with Jordan Morris scoring the final goal of the season, finally breaking through to go to their first-ever MLS Cup.[139]

On December 10, 2016, the Sounders defeated Toronto FC 5–4 in a penalty shootout, to win MLS Cup 2016, their first MLS championship in franchise history, without even registering a single shot on goal.[140] With the Sounder's slow season start and midseason turmoil, the team's turnaround from bottom of the league to champions is considered the most dramatic comebacks in MLS history.[141]

Sounders Uniform Evolution[edit]

Kits used by various Sounders' franchises over the years:

NASL Home
1974–77
NASL Home
1978–82
NASL Home
1983
NASL Away
1974–75
NASL Away
1976–79
NASL Away
1980–82
NASL Away
1983
NASL Away
Alt. 1983
USL Home
1994–2008
USL Away
1994–2008
MLS Home
2009–10
MLS Home
2011–12
MLS Home
Alt. 2011–12
MLS Home
2013–2014
MLS Home
Alt. 2013–2014
MLS Home
2015
MLS Home
2016–
MLS Away
2009–10
MLS Away
2011–12
MLS Away
2013–2014
MLS Away
2015
MLS Away
2016
MLS Away
2017–
MLS Third
2010–11
MLS Third
2012–13
MLS Third
2014
MLS Third
2015
MLS Third
2016-

Sounders Season-by-Season Results[edit]

Outdoor seasons[edit]

Season Regular Season Playoffs U.S. Open
Cup
Community
Shield
CONCACAF Top goalscorer[142]
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[143] 10
1975 NASL 22 15 7 0[144] 42 28 129[145] 2nd; West
3rd; Overall
QF John Rowlands[146] 9
1976 NASL 24 14 10 0 40 31 123 2nd; West
6th; Overall
C-SF Gordon Wallace[5] 13
1977 NASL 26 14 12 0 43 34 123 3rd; Division
4th; Conf.
5th; Overall
Runners-up Micky Cave[147] 12
1978 NASL 30 15 15 0 50 45 138 3rd; Division
7th; Conf.
12th; Overall
QF Micky Cave[148] 13
1979 NASL 30 13 17 0 58 52 125 3rd; Division
9th; Conf.
16th; Overall
John Ryan[149] 12
1980 NASL 32 25 7 0 74 31 203 1st; Division
2nd; Conf.
2nd; Overall
C-SF Roger Davies[150] 25
1981 NASL 32 15 17 0 60 62 137 4th; Division
11th; Overall
R1 Kevin Bond 16
1982 NASL 32 18 14 0 72 48 166 1st; Division
2nd; Overall
Runners-up Peter Ward 18
1983 NASL 30 12 18 0 62 61 119 3rd; Division
9th; Overall
Mark Peterson Peter Ward 13
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[151] 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[152]
SF R2 Mike Gailey 10
1998 USISL 28 18 10 0 63 28 52 2nd; Division
6th; Overall[153]
C-SF Mark Baena 24
1999 A-League 32 19 9 0 56 36 81 3rd; Division
4th; Overall[154]
QF R3 Niall Thompson 20
2000 A-League 20 10 7 3[155] 56 36 81 1st; Division
4th; Overall[156]
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
10
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
2015 MLS 34 15 13 6 44 36 51 4th; Conf.
6th; Overall
QF R4 QF Oba Martins 15
2016 MLS 34 14 14 6 44 43 48 4th; Conf.
6th; Overall
Champions QF Jordan Morris 12

Indoor seasons[edit]

Season Regular Season Playoffs Top goalscorer[142]
League GP W L T GF GA Pts Pos Name Goals
1980–81 NASL
Indoor
18 9 9 0 106 98 .500[157] 4th; Division
11th; Overall
1981–82 NASL
Indoor
18 9 9 0 95 97 .500 3rd; Division
4th; Conf.
7th; Overall

Personnel[edit]

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 2009–2016 (115-79-56)
Brian Schmetzer United States 2016– (8-2-4)

Players[edit]

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

Honors[edit]

International[edit]

CONCACAF Champions Cup

  • 4th-place (1): 1996

Domestic[edit]

U.S. Open Cup

League[edit]

MLS[edit]

MLS Cup

Supporters Shield

  • Supporters Shield (1): 2014

NASL[edit]

Soccer Bowl

Trans-Atlantic Challenge Cup

  • Winner 1981

USL[edit]

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

Other[edit]

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.[158][159] Former general manager of the Seattle Sounders Women and Seattle Sounders FC Director of Youth Programs,[160] 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.[161] 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.[162]

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]

References[edit]

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