Sounders known for celebrating road wins in song
The Sounders have earned 22 road wins since 2009, tied for the most in MLS. The same celebratory song has been sung after each one — a tradition that dates to the 1990s.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Sounders FC @ Vancouver Whitecaps, 2 p.m., KONG
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TUKWILA — There is no missing the song.
The tune is familiar. The voices are loud and often accompanied by thunderous banging.
Since the 1990s, tradition is that when the Sounders win on the road, a celebratory song follows shortly afterward in the visitors' locker room:
Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way.
Oh! What fun it is to see
The Sounders win away.
MLS teams hosting the Sounders probably don't think so. Seattle owns the league's longest road unbeaten streak at eight games (7-0-1) and will look to extend it at 2 p.m. Saturday against the rival Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place.
Overall, the Sounders have won 22 road games since joining the league in 2009, tied for the most in MLS. Nonleague highlights on the road include winning the 2009 U.S. Open Cup final at D.C. United and a CONCACAF Champions League game last year in Monterrey, Mexico.
In rivalry action, Seattle won in both Portland and Vancouver last season.
That's a lot of singing.
"It's definitely a thing that maybe incites some of that rivalry and that passion — going to Portland and going to Vancouver and singing in their locker room," said Roger Levesque, who, like the song, has carried over from the United Soccer Leagues to MLS. "They can't be too happy about it."
Many longtime Sounders mark the origins of the song to the days of Neil Megson, who joined the American Professional Soccer League team in 1994 and served as a player and assistant coach under Alan Hinton for two seasons. Megson coached the A-League/USL Sounders from 1996 to 2000.
"He used to open the (locker room) doors, so everyone could listen and the opposition could listen," said Hinton, a broadcast analyst for the MLS team.
The custom carried on through the USL years under coach Brian Schmetzer, now an assistant coach for Sounders FC. For Schmetzer, the song is all about team spirit.
"It means no disrespect to anybody," he said. "Some teams over the years have taken offense to that, but it's about us; it's about this team. We don't want people to take it the wrong way."
Coach Sigi Schmid experienced the tradition for the first time after the franchise's first road MLS win on April 4, 2009, in Toronto.
"It became a part of (winning on the road) ever since," Schmid said. "I think it's great."
And even if players don't know the lyrics, they can still contribute.
"Some of the tradition is singing the song, but you also have to bang the lockers or something," said Schmid, who noted that some of the players most enthusiastic about the ritual are newcomers.
After that 2009 win in Toronto, Schmetzer particularly remembers watching Freddie Ljungberg, the team's highest-paid star, during the song.
"Ljungberg didn't know the words, so he was just banging on the lockers," Schmetzer said. "He was laughing, smiling and banging, but he didn't know what we were singing."
Most important, it's a winning tradition.
"Hopefully, it sticks around for a long time," said Levesque.
• An MRI last week revealed Patrick Ianni has a bulging disc in his back. The defender sat out the past two games with the injury and is expected to miss Saturday's game in Vancouver. Defender Leo Gonzalez recently suffered a quad injury, but is listed as probable on the injury report.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @joshuamayers.