Seattle Sounders (1974–1983)

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Seattle Sounders
Full nameSeattle Sounders
FoundedDecember 11, 1973
DissolvedSeptember 6, 1983; 40 years ago (1983-09-06)
StadiumMemorial Stadium
58,218 (limited to 38,000)

The Seattle Sounders were an American professional soccer team based in Seattle, Washington. Founded in 1974, the team belonged to the North American Soccer League where it played both indoor and outdoor soccer. The team folded after the 1983 NASL outdoor season but the name was revived in 1994 for a lower-division team and Seattle Sounders FC of the top-flight Major League Soccer, founded in 2007.


A Seattle expansion team for the North American Soccer League was proposed in early 1973 as part of a new Western Division that would include Los Angeles, San Jose, and Vancouver.[1] On December 11, 1973, the league awarded an expansion team to Seattle that would be owned by a group of local businessmen led by Walter Daggatt of the Alpac Corporation; the team would play at Memorial Stadium in the Western Division alongside new teams in Los Angeles, San Francisco (later moved to San Jose), and Vancouver.[2] A naming contest was held in January 1974, with a shortlist of six finalists: Cascades, Evergreens, Mariners, Schooners, Sockeyes, and Sounders.[3] "Sounders" was announced as the winner of the contest on January 21, having been chosen in 32 percent of the 3,735 votes cast by the public.[4]

The Sounders assembled a roster of players from European leagues, including Americans returning from overseas, and hired John Best as their coach.[5][6] They played for four days before their league debut on May 5, 1974, against Los Angeles Aztecs;[7] the team lost 2–1 on the road with the first goal in Sounders history scored by John Rowlands.[8] Their home debut, a week later at Memorial Stadium in Seattle, was a 4–0 victory against the Denver Dynamos in front of 12,132 spectators; Rowlands scored twice in the match.[9][10] The team finished the regular season with a 13–7 record and missed the playoffs, but had six sellout crowds at Memorial Stadium that broke the venue's previous records.[11][12] The Sounders averaged 13,520 per match in their inaugural season, second only to the San Jose Earthquakes among NASL teams.[13]

During the 1974–75 offseason, Memorial Stadium was expanded to 17,925 seats for Sounders matches; the team had four more sellouts and averaged 16,830 during the 1975 season with 7,477 season ticket holders. They announced a move to the new multi-purpose Kingdome ahead of the 1976 season, planning to limit capacity to 38,000 seats for most matches but charge the same prices as their Memorial Stadium tickets. The team also moved their front offices to Pioneer Square in December 1975.[14] The Sounders played the first sporting event at the Kingdome on April 9, 1976, hosting the New York Cosmos in an exhibition match that they lost 3–1 with 58,128 in attendance. The Sounders went on to play in two Soccer Bowls, losing in 1977 and 1982 to the Cosmos.[9] From 1975 to 1982, the Sounders had an average attendance of over 20,000 per match at the Kingdome and Memorial Stadium.[15]

Frank and Vince Coluccio bought a majority stake in the Sounders franchise in 1979.[16] In January 1983, the Coluccios sold 75 percent of the franchise to former National Football League player and businessman Bruce Anderson and REI executive Jerry Horn, who split the shares in half; an offer to sell the team to Bud Greer for $5.8 million was rejected so the Coluccios could retain control of the Sounders. Anderson immediately announced the firing of head coach Alan Hinton, stating that the "style of play [was] not what we want to present".[17] The team adopted a new logo, colors, and theme song as part of an "Americanization" campaign led by Anderson, which was poorly received by fans.[18][19] Horn later resigned from the team's board of directors in June and sold his shares to the Coluccios, who regained majority control;[20] Anderson resigned as team president at the same time and sold his remaining shares in August as the NASL dispatched mediators to settle the dispute between owners.[21][22] Former players Jack Brand and Roger Davies had also filed lawsuits seeking unpaid wages from their terminated contracts.[23]

The team folded on September 6, 1983, after the Coluccios struggled to keep the club afloat through the remainder of the regular season; the team did not qualify for the playoffs.[24] The payrolls for players and staff went unpaid for several matches in August, including the EuroPac Cup against Vancouver and teams from Brazil and China.[25] Several potential new investors had inquired about owning the Sounders,[26] but were unable to negotiate for the rights.[27] A plan to play the 1983–84 NASL indoor season at the Tacoma Dome was scrapped after losing to a new Major Indoor Soccer League franchise, later the Tacoma Stars; an alternate site, the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, Alaska, was also favored by Anderson but never used.[28][29] The Sounders lost an estimated $7 million in their final years of operation and the rights to the team's name were sold to Hinton.[30] The NASL folded a year later and a new team, F.C. Seattle Storm, was formed to continue playing outdoor soccer on a semi-professional level in the city.[9] The Storm later played in the American Professional Soccer League in 1990, but folded two years later.[31] A new Sounders team formed in 1994 and played in the American Professional Soccer League (later the A-League and USL First Division).[9][32] They were replaced by a Major League Soccer team, named Seattle Sounders FC in honor of both predecessors, which made their debut on March 19, 2009.[33]


The Kingdome, the home venue of the Sounders from 1976 to 1983

The Sounders played at Memorial Stadium for their first two seasons under a lease with the Seattle School District. The stadium was expanded to 17,925 seats during the 1974–75 offseason with temporary bleachers to accommodate the team's crowds, which were among the largest in the NASL.[14] The artificial turf pitch at Memorial Stadium was 110 yards (330 ft) long and 62 yards (186 ft) wide, among the narrowest in the league.[34] The team also considered playing some matches, including playoff games, at Husky Stadium in the event that Memorial Stadium was too small or unavailable.[35][36]

The team moved to the indoor Kingdome for the 1976 season, which it would later share with other professional sports teams. The Sounders initially limited capacity for most matches to 38,000 by using the entire lower bowl and only part of the upper bowl.[14] On April 25, 1976, 58,218 watched the Seattle Sounders and the New York Cosmos in the first sports event held in the Kingdome.[37] It was the largest crowd to watch a professional soccer match in the United States at the time.[38]

From 1979 to 1982, they competed in three NASL Indoor seasons, playing their home games also at the Kingdome. The stadium was reconfigured for indoor soccer with a playing surface that was 210 feet (64 m) long and 85 feet (26 m) wide.[39] Capacity was limited beginning in the 1981 indoor season to 16,500 seats;[40] the following year, the field was shortened and moved closer to the western stands, while 2,500 bleacher seats were added to the east side.[41] The Sounders attempted to move to the new Tacoma Dome for the 1983 indoor season, but lost out to the Major Indoor Soccer League's Tacoma Stars as primary tenant.[42]



Radio station KVI carried all of the Sounders' regular season matches in 1974 with play-by-play commentary from Bob Robertson.[43] The team renewed their contract with KVI for the 1975 season, with Robertson reprising his role and joined by head coach John Best for a pre-match segment.[44] For the 1976 season, the station broadcast preseason games in addition to regular season and playoff coverage;[45] the team paid for their radio time and sold advertising to recoup costs.[46] The Sounders left KVI after the season due to fears it would be "overshadowed" by the station's Seattle Mariners broadcasts, which would take priority.[47]

KIRO Radio replaced KVI as the radio broadcaster for the Sounders, with Wayne Cody assigned to play-by-play duties for the 1977 and 1978 seasons with color commentator Tommy Grieve.[48][49] The team contracted with KOMO beginning in the 1979 season with Huskies announcer Bob Rondeau as play-by-play commentator for home matches alongside Grieve. Keith Askenasi, a member of the team's staff, would be the play-by-play commentator away matches.[50] Due to scheduling conflicts, Rondeau was replaced by David Greene beginning with the 1980 indoor season.[51] KXA and KAYO replaced KOMO for the 1981 indoor season and 1982 outdoor season;[52] former Seattle Totems hockey commentator Rob Glazier was hired by the Sounders to replace Greene.[53] The rights for the 1983 season were acquired by KJR with Robertson returning as play-by-play commentator.[54][55]


Television highlights from the team's matches were broadcast in a weekly hour-long show on KOMO beginning in the 1975 season. It was the first television arrangement for an NASL team with a terrestrial broadcaster.[56] KOMO sports director Bruce King hosted the show and was joined by Best to explain rules and tactics for the audience.[57] KOMO later carried a live broadcast of the team's 1975 playoff game against the Portland Timbers with commentary from King and Cliff McCrath, head coach of the Seattle Pacific Falcons collegiate soccer team. The broadcast was produced by their sister station in Portland, KATU, and was criticized for its odd direction and poor video quality.[58]

The first live regular season broadcasts for the Sounders' away matches were aired on KSTW (Channel 11) for the 1976 season, with Robertson's radio commentary simulcast.[59] Robertson was retained for the following season by KSTW despite KVI's contract expiring; he also became the play-by-play commentator for the rival Portland Timbers.[60] Two matches were also broadcast by KIRO-TV on tape delay as part of an agreement with TVS.[61][62] A new highlights show on KCTS was introduced for the 1978 season to cover home matches; KSTW would continue to carry live broadcasts for away matches with Robertson at the helm.[49]


The Seattle Sounders were supported by the "Seattle Sounders Booster Club" in the 1970s and early 1980s.


This is a complete list of seasons for the NASL club. For a season-by-season history including the current Seattle Sounders FC MLS franchise, see History of professional soccer in Seattle.

Season League Position Playoffs USOC Continental Average attendance Top goalscorer(s)
Div League Pld W L D GF GA GD Pts PPG Conf. Overall Name Goals
1974 1 NASL 20 10 7 3 37 17 +20 101 5.05 3rd 5th DNQ DNE Ineligible 13,434 England John Rowlands[63] 10
1975 NASL 22 15 7 0 42 28 +14 129 5.86 2nd 3rd QF 16,818 England John Rowlands[64] 9
1976 NASL 24 14 10 0 40 31 +9 123 5.13 3rd 8th QF 23,828[65] Canada Gordon Wallace 13
1977 NASL 26 14 12 0 43 34 +9 123 4.73 5th 8th RU 24,226 England Micky Cave[66] 12
1978 NASL 30 15 15 0 50 45 +5 138 4.60 7th 12th R1 22,572 England Micky Cave[67] 13
1979 NASL 30 13 17 0 58 52 +6 125 4.17 10th 17th DNQ 18,998 England John Ryan[68] 12
1980 NASL 32 25 7 0 74 31 +43 201 6.28 2nd 2nd QF 24,246 England Roger Davies[69] 25
1981 NASL 32 15 17 0 60 62 −2 137 4.28 4th 15th R1 18,224 England Kevin Bond 16
1982 NASL 32 18 14 0 72 48 +24 166 5.19 1st 2nd RU 12,359 England Peter Ward 18
1983 NASL 30 12 18 0 62 61 +1 119 3.97 3rd 9th DNQ 8,181 United States Mark Peterson
England Peter Ward
Total 278 151 124 3 538 409 +129 1362 4.90 United States Mark Peterson 48

^ 1. Avg. attendance include statistics from league matches only.
^ 2. Top goalscorer(s) includes all goals scored in League, League Cup, U.S. Open Cup, CONCACAF Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup, and other competitive continental matches.


Season League Position Playoffs Average attendance Top goalscorer(s)
League Pld W L GF GA GD Conf. Overall Name Goals
1975 NASL 2 0 2 8 23 –15 4th 16th DNQ N/A Unknown X
1980–81 NASL 18 9 9 106 98 +8 4th 11th 6,751 Unknown X
1981–82 NASL 18 9 9 95 97 –2 4th 7th QF 6,137 Unknown X
Total 38 18 20 209 218 –9 Unknown X


Team honors[edit]

NASL championships

NASL Conference championships

NASL Division championships

  • 1977 Western Division, Pacific Conference[70]

NASL Division Titles (regular season)

  • 1980 Western Division, National Conference
  • 1982 Western Division

Trans-Atlantic Challenge Cup

  • 1981 Winner

Europac Cup

  • 1982 Winner

League MVP

Rookie of the Year

North American Player of the Year

Coach of the Year

NASL Leading Goalkeeper

Individual honors[edit]

All-Star first team selections

All-Star second team selections

All-Star honorable mentions

NASL Indoor All-Stars

U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame

Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame



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External links[edit]