Advertising

The Seattle Times Company

NWjobs | NWautos | NWhomes | NWsource | Free Classifieds | seattletimes.com

Local News


Our network sites seattletimes.com | Advanced

Originally published Thursday, March 19, 2009 at 8:29 PM

Comments (0)     E-mail E-mail article      Print Print      Share Share

For fans, Sounders opener fulfills promise

For nearly three decades, Seattle's soccer fans have had limited options for satisfying futbol cravings: catching European games in dank bars at odd hours, seeing the occasional international exhibition at Qwest Field, playing in muddy weeknight matches in recreational leagues.

Associated Press Writer

SEATTLE —

For nearly three decades, Seattle's soccer fans have had limited options for satisfying futbol cravings: catching European games in dank bars at odd hours, seeing the occasional international exhibition at Qwest Field, playing in muddy weeknight matches in recreational leagues.

All that changed with the Seattle Sounders FC's inaugural game Thursday, which simultaneously fulfilled a 12-year-old promise that the city would host a Major League Soccer team and eased the lingering sting of the Seattle SuperSonics' departure last summer.

"It only took 25 years, but the world game is back in Seattle," majority owner Joe Roth told a sea of fans waving blue-and-green scarves before kickoff. "You proved Seattle is the capital of soccer in this country."

The Sounders opened their first season with a sold-out 3-0 win against the New York Red Bulls after capping the number of season tickets sold at 22,000 - more than any other MLS franchise. It came 12 years after the league promised that Seattle would get a franchise if voters approved funding for a new football-and-soccer stadium to replace the Kingdome.

The original Sounders played in the North American Soccer League from 1974-82, before that league collapsed. The club was reincarnated as a minor league team in the United Soccer League from 1994 through last year, when then-majority owner Adrian Hanauer joined Roth, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and comedian Drew Carey to land the MLS franchise.

On Thursday the streets around Qwest Field filled with ecstatic fans waving scarves and chanting songs, some with unprintable lyrics directed at the Red Bulls. The Sounders' 53-piece marching band joined Carey, Hanauer and Mayor Greg Nickels in a parade to the stadium from a park in nearby Pioneer Square.

Many said they remembered cheering for the original Sounders.

"To have them back is crazy," said Rob Buck of Puyallup, as he carried his 4-year-old son, Ethan, on his shoulders. "I've been a soccer fan my whole life, and there's nothing like a first game like this. I wanted my son to experience it."

Inside the stadium, the fans cheered as the Sounders were introduced, especially star goalkeeper Kasey Keller, a local legend. They roared as Roth announced his four hopes for the team - that it would make the playoffs and win the MLS Cup, that schoolchildren from the state would make the roster, and that the Sounders could eventually compete against any team in the world.

They also enjoyed Roth's wry promise: "There will be no midnight exodus out of this city," he said, hinting at the Sonics' move to Oklahoma City. "We're here to stay."

Every turn of play in the team's favor warranted a burst of applause, and the stadium erupted as the Sounders scored their first goals. The pitch glittered with blue and green confetti.

"People were starving for an MLS team here," said Robert Cerbana, 37, between blasting long notes on a $17 plastic Sounders horn. "The departure of the Sonics probably helped, but there's enough fans of soccer itself in this region to keep the momentum going."

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

More Local News headlines...

E-mail E-mail article      Print Print      Share Share

Comments
No comments have been posted to this article.

advertising


Get home delivery today!

More Local News

UPDATE - 09:46 AM
Exxon Mobil wins ruling in Alaska oil spill case

NEW - 7:51 AM
Longview man says he was tortured with hot knife

Longview man says he was tortured with hot knife

Longview mill spills bleach into Columbia River

NEW - 8:00 AM
More extensive TSA searches in Sea-Tac Airport rattle some travelers

Advertising

Video

Marketplace

Brake softening likely caused by overheatingnew
Dear Tom and Ray: I am a rural mail carrier, which means I have to use my own vehicle to deliver. I drive a 2005 Scion xA. As you...
Post a comment

Advertising