Seattle Sounders FC

Seattle Sounders FC
Seattle Sounders FC
The Seattle Sounders FC crest, with the team's name on a banner stretched across a green and blue shield with the shape of the Space Needle in the center.
Full name Seattle Sounders FC
Nickname(s) The Sounders, Rave Green
Founded 2007
Stadium CenturyLink Field
Seattle, Washington
(Capacity: 67,000)
Owner(s) Joe Roth
Adrian Hanauer
Paul Allen
Drew Carey
General Manager Adrian Hanauer
Head Coach Sigi Schmid
League Major League Soccer
2011 Western Conference: 2nd
Overall: 2nd
Playoffs: Quarterfinals
Website Club home page
Home colors
Away colors
Third colors
Current season

Seattle Sounders FC is an American professional soccer club based in Seattle, Washington. The club competes in Major League Soccer (MLS), the top professional soccer league in the United States and Canada. Sounders FC was established in November 2007 as a MLS expansion team, making it the 15th team in the league. Fans chose the Sounders name through an online poll in 2008, making the Seattle Sounders FC the third Seattle soccer team to share the moniker.

The club's majority owner is Hollywood producer Joe Roth, and its minority owners are Adrian Hanauer, Paul Allen and Drew Carey. Two-time MLS Cup winner Sigi Schmid is the team's head coach. Sounders FC home matches are played at CenturyLink Field. Along with several organized groups, a 53-member marching band called the 'Sound Wave' supports the club at each home game. Former BBC announcer Arlo White calls the play-by-play for local broadcasts. Seattle competes with rival MLS clubs Portland and Vancouver in the Cascadia Cup.

Sounders FC played their inaugural match on March 19, 2009, a 3–0 win over the New York Red Bulls. In their two seasons, Seattle has sold out every league match, set MLS records for average attendance, and led the league in season ticket sales. The club qualified for the MLS Cup playoffs in each of its first three seasons. In 2009, Sounders FC became the second expansion team in MLS history to win the U.S. Open Cup, and in 2010 became the first ever MLS team to repeat as Open Cup champions. On October 4, 2011, the Sounders became the first ever MLS team to win the U.S. Open Cup three times in a row, defeating the Chicago Fire 2–0.



Even before the first cities in the United States were chosen to host Major League Soccer teams, Seattle was considered a viable location for a professional team.[1] In 1994, as the U.S. was preparing to host the FIFA World Cup, more than 30 cities were pursuing the rights to an MLS team, Seattle being among them.[2] However, despite the strong soccer fan base in Seattle, the absence of a soccer-only stadium was a drawback to establishing an MLS team.[3] Cities seeking consideration for an inaugural MLS team were also expected to secure 10,000 assurances from fans for season tickets.[2] By the June 3, 1994, deadline for MLS team bids, Seattle organizers had only secured a little over 1,300 such assurances.[4] These low numbers were a result of competition between the ticket campaign for the MLS expansion team and for the American Professional Soccer League (APSL) Sounders expansion team.[5]

In a June 14, 1994, announcement, Seattle was not included among the first seven cities to be awarded an MLS team.[1] Five more teams were to be announced later in the year, and to improve their chances, Seattle MLS organizers began working with the University of Washington to secure use of Husky Stadium as an interim stadium while they pursued the construction of a permanent soccer-specific facility.[6] In November 1994, the start of the first MLS season was postponed until 1996, and it was noted that the absence of an "adequate grass-field facility" in the area and the presence of the new APSL Seattle Sounders team had thwarted Seattle's MLS bid.[7] In the end, Seattle was not among the cities chosen to establish a team during the first season of the MLS.[8]

In 1996, as Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen worked with the city to build a new football stadium for his team, the potential of an MLS expansion team that could be a co-tenant helped drive public support for the effort.[9] Many of the state's voters supported the referendum to construct Seahawks Stadium because it was expected to be a professional soccer venue.[10] While the stadium problem was being resolved, a new issue emerged. By 2000, the MLS was moving away from league-operated teams to investor-operated teams, so wealthy individuals would need to step forward for Seattle to obtain an MLS expansion team.[10]

In 2002, Seattle was again listed as a possibility for an MLS expansion team when the ten-team league announced plans to expand into new markets.[11] In 2004, MLS commissioner Don Garber indicated that Seattle had been "very close" to receiving the expansion team awarded to Salt Lake. 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 secure rights to a Seattle franchise for 2006.[12] However, when Seattle was passed over again in 2006, 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.[13]

MLS expansion arrives

In 2007, Hanauer teamed up with Hollywood producer Joe Roth to make another bid for MLS expansion into Seattle, at a cost of $30 million.[14] Paul Allen, whose First and Goal company operated CenturyLink Field (formerly Seahawks Stadium and Qwest Field), joined the ownership group that same year, making the bid the most promising yet for Seattle.[15] During the first week of November 2007, rumors began to build that the MLS would be announcing an expansion into Seattle the following week and that the ownership group had taken on a fourth member: TV personality Drew Carey.[16] In a press conference on November 13, 2007, it was announced that Seattle had been awarded an expansion team. 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) team in 1983. The announcement also meant that the Seattle Sounders of the USL First Division would play their final season the year before the new MLS franchise was formed.[17][18]

Team name, badge and colors unveiled

"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.[19] 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."[20] 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.[20]

Fans chose a name for the team in an online poll held between March 27 and March 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 embittered many in the Seattle community.[21][22] 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.[23] Of the over 14,500 votes received for the new team name, 49% of the votes included some form of the name Sounders.[24] 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."[25]

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.[26] 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.[27]

Inaugural season

Several players are standing together with one lifting a large trophy upward
Players celebrate after winning the 2009 U.S. Open Cup

Seattle Sounders FC, the league's 15th team, began play in the 2009 season. All 22,000 season ticket packages offered by the club for their inaugural season were sold,[28] giving them the most season ticket holders in MLS.[29] They played their first home match on March 19, 2009, to a sold-out crowd of 32,523, defeating the New York Red Bulls 3–0.[30] Seattle was the first MLS expansion team to win their first three games, and they did so with a shutout in each.[31] 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,[32] a record which was later broken when they hosted Manchester United in front of 67,052 fans.[33]

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.[34] They did so by defeating D.C. United 2–1 on the road at RFK Stadium. In winning the U.S. Open Cup tournament, they qualified for the preliminary round of the 2010–11 CONCACAF Champions League.[34]

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.[35] 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.[36] 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.[37] 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.[38]

Golden Scarf

During the pre-game ceremonies of the inaugural home match of the Sounders FC, a Golden Scarf emblazoned with the team name was awarded to MLS Commissioner Don Garber.[39] This began a tradition where, before each home game, the club likewise honors a member of the community who has contributed to soccer or society more generally in the Seattle area. The recipient and the fans then raise their scarves over their heads together. The presenter of the Golden Scarf, usually a representative of the club's owners, is also acknowledged as part of the ceremony.[40]

2010 season

Before the first game of Sounders FC's second season, the club increased the season ticket holder limit to 32,000.[41] The first game of the season was played at CenturyLink Field (then called Qwest Field) with Seattle hosting the new MLS expansion team, the Philadelphia Union. Sounders FC won 2–0. However, the 2010 season began poorly for Seattle with the club losing 8 of its first 15 games (30 games in the season). In the latter half of the regular season, Seattle was able to reverse its fortune, winning 10 of its last 15 matches, and clinching a playoff berth for the second consecutive year with a 2–1 win on October 10, 2010, at Kansas City.[42] In the playoffs they were eliminated in the conference semifinals, by the Los Angeles Galaxy with a 3–1 aggregate score.[43] The club broke their own single season attendance record averaging 36,173 per match[44] and again sold out every league match.[45]

Sounders FC also competed in two additional competitions in 2010–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 were eliminated in the group stage.[46] In the U.S. Open Cup, Seattle won games at Portland and at home against the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA before reaching the final, 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.[47] The final was played in front of a U.S. Open Cup record crowd of 31,311,[48] and the victory ensured Seattle's return to the Champions League in 2011.[49]


A view of a soccer field from high in the crowd before a match.
Supporters in the lower bowl of CenturyLink Field

Seattle Sounders FC plays home games at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, also home to the Seattle Seahawks.[50][51] Sounders FC minority owner Paul Allen is also the owner of the Seahawks who have a 30-year lease on CenturyLink Field.[52] Because of this relationship, Sounders FC makes use of CenturyLink Field without paying rent.[53] For Sounders FC games, the pitch is called "The Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field" as part of the sponsorship deal with Microsoft.[54]

CenturyLink Field is a 67,000-seat stadium designed for both American football and soccer.[51] Sounders FC artificially limits the stadium's capacity for MLS games with certain seating sections covered with tarpaulins to provide "a more intimate atmosphere" and opens the entire stadium for international friendly matches.[50][55] Capacity for the stadium was originally limited to 24,500 before the start of the inaugural season.[50] However, due to high demand, capacity has been increased multiple times with it currently set at 38,500 for the 2012 season.[55][56][57][58]

While Seattle Sounders FC currently plays on FieldTurf, CenturyLink Field has previously had temporary natural grass installed for international soccer events.[59] If an MLS rule change requires natural grass playing surfaces, the field will be permanently replaced with natural grass.[60] For Seattle's international friendlies against Chelsea on July 18, 2009 and FC Barcelona on August 5, 2009, a temporary natural grass field was installed.[61]

The team's training facilities and offices are located at the Starfire Sports Complex in nearby Tukwila.[62] Smaller than CenturyLink Field, Starfire is also used to host U.S. Open Cup games. Sounders FC representatives have said they prefer the more intimate atmosphere for smaller cup matches.[63]


Fans waving flags and unfurling a large green and blue tifo behind a goal.
Emerald City Supporters unveil a tifo prior to the club's inaugural game

The Sounders FC Alliance was established at the request of minority owner Drew Carey. Based on the fan association at FC Barcelona, members of the Alliance have the ability to vote on the removal of the General Manager and on other team decisions. Season ticket holders become automatic members while non-season ticket holders may buy into the Alliance for a fee. Membership benefits include voting privileges, invitation to an annual meeting and other team perks. Members can also be elected to the Sounders FC Alliance Council by receiving at least 25 nominations from other members annually. The first vote on the General Manager is scheduled to be held in November 2012 following Seattle's third season.[64] Drew Carey is the chairman of the Sounders FC Alliance.[65]

Carey also requested that Sounders FC have their own marching band, the first in MLS .[66] This led to the creation of the Sound Wave, a 53-member marching band consisting of brass and marching percussion.[67] The band plays music from multiple genres such as Latin, rock and pop,[67] and sits on the north end of Royal Brougham Park.[68] The March to the Match, in which fans march from Occidental Park to CenturyLink Field before each home game, is led by the Sound Wave.[69]

Besides the Alliance, there are currently five recognized, independent supporters groups for Sounders FC. Emerald City Supporters (ECS), which formed in 2005 to support the USL Sounders, is the largest supporter group and sits in the south end of the stadium in sections 121–123.[70] SoCal Sound is an off-shoot of ECS based in Southern California, that attends Sounders games played at The Home Depot Center in Carson, California.[71] Gorilla FC is a Sounders FC supporters group that sits in the south end of CenturyLink Field in Sections 120 and 119.[72] The North End Faithful sit in the north end of the stadium beneath the "Hawks Nest" in sections 100 and 144–152.[73] Immortal Fury, formed in the fashion of South American torcidas, focuses on bringing color to the south end of the stadium by displaying the national flags of several countries.[74]


The Seattle–Portland and Seattle–Vancouver rivalries formed in the years that the NASL-Sounders and USL-Sounders were playing in Seattle. In 2004 the fan-based Cascadia Cup was created to formalize the competition between the Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver USL teams.[75] This geographic rivalry was renewed when the MLS expansion teams in Portland and Vancouver began play in the 2011 season.[76][77]

The fan-created Heritage Cup competition with the San Jose Earthquakes was begun in the 2009 MLS season. MLS teams that carry on the names of their NASL predecessors are eligible to compete. The results of their league matches determine the winner.[78]

Ownership and team management

The team ownership group is composed of four investors. The majority owner is Hollywood producer Joe Roth, with minority owners Adrian Hanauer, former owner of the now defunct USL-1 team Seattle Sounders; Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder and owner of the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers; and Drew Carey, comedian and game show host.[79]

Sounders FC officially introduced Sigi Schmid as their first coach on December 16, 2008.[80] Schmid had previously led the Los Angeles Galaxy to a MLS Cup in 2002 and the Columbus Crew to a MLS Cup in 2008. Brian Schmetzer is the top assistant coach[81] and Tom Dutra is the goalkeeper coach.[82] Retired MLS veteran defender Ezra Hendrickson joined the Sounders as an assistant coach in January 2009.[83] Former MLS player and Everett, Washington native Chris Henderson was named technical director on January 24, 2009.[84] Longtime Seattle Seahawks executive Gary Wright is the senior vice president of business operations.[85]

SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily recognized Seattle Sounders FC as the Professional Sports Team of the Year for 2009 because of the team's record setting success in attendance as well as making the playoffs in their inaugural season.[86][87] Former Seahawks and Sounders FC CEO Tod Leiweke was recognized by Puget Sound Business Journal as the newspaper's 2009 Executive of the Year.[88]


Seattle Sounders FC matches are televised in English by either KING-TV or KONG-TV, except those nationally telecast matches on Fox Soccer Channel or ESPN2/ABC. KONG-TV also airs a program devoted to interviews, highlights, and other features on Sunday evenings called Sounders FC Weekly.[89]

Former Seattle SuperSonics announcer Kevin Calabro and former U.S. soccer star Greg Vanney called the play-by-play for the local broadcasts during the inaugural season in 2009.[90][91] However, they were replaced by former BBC cricket and general sport commentator Arlo White for the 2010 season, who calls both the English language radio and television broadcasts without a partner.[92] Matches are televised in Spanish on THIS-TV with Jaime Mendez and Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar calling the action. On radio, Sounders FC matches are aired in English on KIRO-FM and in Spanish on Ke Buena AM.[93]


Current squad

As of July 30, 2011.[94] Where a player has not declared an international alleigance, nationality is determined by place of birth.
Key: GK=Goalkeeper, DF=Defender, MF=Midfielder,FW=Forward

No. Position Player Nation
2 FW Fucito, MikeMike Fucito      United States
3 MF Evans, BradBrad Evans      United States
4 DF Ianni, PatrickPatrick Ianni      United States
5 DF Wahl, TysonTyson Wahl      United States
6 MF Alonso, OsvaldoOsvaldo Alonso      Cuba
7 DF Riley, JamesJames Riley      United States
8 MF Friberg, ErikErik Friberg      Sweden
10 MF Rosales, MauroMauro Rosales      Argentina
11 MF Zakuani, SteveSteve Zakuani      Democratic Republic of the Congo
12 DF González, LeonardoLeonardo González      Costa Rica
13 FW White, O'BrianO'Brian White      Jamaica
14 DF Tetteh, MichaelMichael Tetteh      Ghana
15 MF Fernández, ÁlvaroÁlvaro Fernández      Uruguay
16 FW Estrada, DavidDavid Estrada      United States
17 FW Montero, FredyFredy Montero      Colombia
18 GK Keller, KaseyKasey Keller (captain)     United States
19 FW Ochoa, SammySammy Ochoa      United States
20 DF Scott, ZachZach Scott (vice-captain)     United States
21 FW Jaqua, NateNate Jaqua      United States
22 MF Seamon, MikeMike Seamon      United States
23 MF Carrasco, ServandoServando Carrasco      United States
24 FW Levesque, RogerRoger Levesque      United States
25 FW Noonan, PatPat Noonan      United States
26 DF Graham, TaylorTaylor Graham      United States
27 FW Neagle, LamarLamar Neagle      United States
28 GK Boss, TerryTerry Boss      Puerto Rico
29 GK Ford, JoshJosh Ford      United States
30 MF Sanyang, AmadouAmadou Sanyang      Gambia
31 DF Parke, JeffJeff Parke      United States
32 FW Montaño, MiguelMiguel Montaño      Colombia
34 DF Hurtado, Jhon KennedyJhon Kennedy Hurtado      Colombia
35 GK Meredith, BryanBryan Meredith      United States



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