In the words of Seattle Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid, “In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new team in town.” And that new team is not only setting early records, but is giving Seattle a sports team it can depend on.
About a year ago, I was pleasantly surprised by two special occurrences: The first, my awareness of a Major League Soccer (MLS) team making its way to Seattle; the second, a birthday present of season tickets for the Seattle Sounders FC.
In the past two years, while rumors surfaced about a Major League Soccer team coming to Seattle, four experienced, devoted men made those rumors a reality. Joe Roth, Paul Allen, Drew Carey and Adrian Hanauer revealed a soccer phenomenon when they bought the rights to the first MLS team in Seattle.
With new faces from all over the world and some familiar faces from right here in Washington, the Seattle Sounders created a new meaning of soccer in the Northwest. Not only did the owners design an expansion team, but they were able to draft some of the best soccer players in the world, including some of my favorites: European goalkeeper and Washington native Kasey Keller, Sweden midfielder Freddy Ljungberg, Cuban midfielder Osvaldo Alonso and Jamaican defender Tyrone Marshall.
One of the reasons for creating the Seattle Sounders FC was to boost the enthusiasm for soccer in the Northwest, but nobody believed Seattle would exhibit this much passion.
The owners wished to influence this new team with some aspects of the European soccer nation, such as knowing the detailed rules of soccer and becoming emotionally tied to each game. Astonished at what they saw during the first game, the owners and sportscasters now refer to Seattle soccer fans as the most sophisticated soccer fans in the MLS.
When premier team Barcelona travels to compete with the Seattle Sounders in a friendly match this summer — Chelsea visited last Saturday — the Sounders will have another opportunity to show their sophistication to some of the best soccer athletes in the world, including Lionel Messi and Thierry Henry.
Ever since the inaugural game in March, Seattle fans have demonstrated their true devotion. I can personally attest to this support, because I have willingly been in the middle cheering, clapping and occasionally screaming. Not only do these fans create numerous chants and huge supportive banners, but they participate in the March to Match before every game, which is a fan march from Westlake to Qwest Field with the Sounders’ very own band, Sound Wave.
Even with such a successful team, there is always room for improvement, and with that improvement comes hard work. Coach Sigi has recently emphasized the art of finishing. In recent games, Sigi shifted the starting line up and placed forwards Nate Jaqua and Fredy Montero up front, revealing the ability they have to work in tandem to create numerous opportunities on goal, which happened to result in three goals against the Colorado Rapids.
The halfway season mark was passed a couple of weeks ago, and the Seattle Sounders have shaken up the Western Conference standings. Already in second place, trailing Houston Dynamo, whom they just defeated July 11, the Sounders have a win-loss-tie ratio of 7-3-7.
Now the Seattle Sounders must use what they have learned in the last five months of training, practices and games, and continue to work on those little details that make such a significant impact in each game.
I encourage all students in high school, college or those participating in other leagues to watch the Sounders closely and use what you see to your advantage. The Sounders brought soccer to our front door; do not waste the opportunities awaiting, but embrace them and take everything you see on Qwest Field to your own field.
Foot skills, teamwork, endurance — these are just a few aspects of soccer that one must acquire to become a Freddie Ljungberg or Kasey Keller.
With the accumulation of various players from around the world, all with different levels of experience and each with their own individual trait brought to the field, the Seattle Sounders have succeeded in bringing together the soccer nation of Seattle.
As all of Washington follows the Seattle Sounders FC on their inaugural season journey, join me in celebrating what they have already accomplished and in anticipating what is soon to come in the second half of their season.
If you are not able to attend a game for any reason, each home and away game is conveniently broadcasted live on Kong TV. However, if you do find time to spare, there are single tickets still available on the Sounders’ Web site.
The Seattle Sounders have proven their determination and strive to provide Seattle a successful soccer team, so let’s show the players, coaches and staff our commitment, and remember to support the new team in town.
Elizabeth Cummings will be a senior at Cedar Park Christian in the fall. She plays varsity soccer for the Eagles.