Sounders FC Rings True
Posted by: Frank MacDonald
No matter what era, local legends agree that the name fits
No matter what era, local legends agree that the name fits.
From those original Sounders who were there on opening night in 1974 to a couple keepers who bee outspoken about playing for Seattle’s MLS club some day, they are all smiles about the name Seattle Sounders FC.
For some, the formative seasons of the NASL Sounders were sacred, so special was the connection between the lads and their legion of fans at Memorial Stadium. Capacity crowds, never a drop of rain on game day and rituals of the players giving a wave good-night and going into the stands to hand out roses..
“Yes, it was a golden moment in time, but then it’s good that they’ve come again,” says Jimmy Gabriel, who was a player and coach for the originals from 1974-79. “Now grandfathers can pass stories on to their grandchildren and they can both go support the team.
“I feel it’s just the right name for a soccer team here, especially one that’s in the big leagues,” he adds. “I like the ‘Football Club’ because it sets them apart.”
Gabriel’s view was shared by his teammate in those early years, Pepe Fernandez, along with Alan Hinton and Brian Schmetzer, who have connections to both the NASL AND USL editions of the Sounders.
“I voted for Sounders, and told Adrian (Hanauer, general manager and minority owner of the MLS club),” Schmetzer says. “But then I let it ride.”
Fans proved much, much more vocal. They swarmed the online forums, newspaper editors and pubs, pushing for an all-out wave of write-ins. In the end, 50 percent of the nearly 15,000 votes were cast for Sounders, in some form or another.
“I’m happy, I wanted it to be Sounders too,” says the club’s technical director, Chris Henderson. “I grew up with the Sounders.”
So did the two most recognizable faces of Seattle soccer today, Marcus Hahnemann and Kasey Keller.
“The first time I spoke with Adrian I felt the name should be the Sounders,” wrote Keller in an Email from his home in London. “I understood his apprehension.”
There were conflicting views from fans and owners, alike, that the new franchise should have a fresh start, or that the nickname should grow organically, from out of the cheers of supporters.
On the flipside, Sounders has been synonymous with the highest level of pro soccer played in the city. They were successful and they were, at times, hugely popular. So why erase history?
Hanauer, himself a boyhood fan of the original team, is using the accomplishments of that club and the four-time USL champion Sounders, which he owns, as a launching pad.
Built on History
“This franchise is going to be built on a tradition of winning,” Hanauaer says. “The bar has been set high by the NASL Sounders, by the USL Sounders, and we’re going to have extremely high expectations for this franchise.”
“In the end, the soccer fans of the Northwest relate to pro soccer in the area as the Sounders,” said Keller, a native of Lacey now with Fulham of the English Premier League. “I would like to congratulate the people for doing the right thing.
“This means my Seattle Sounders pennant that I had as a kid is still good. Now if the team can move back to its old home with a new grass pitch, all is right in the cosmos.”
Keller and Hahnemann, who plays for Reading of the EPL, will be at opposite ends of the park Saturday when their two teams meet. Hahnemann was adamant all along about the name.
“It is a good choice. I am glad that the team will be called the Seattle Sounders FC,” although pausing for effect before adding the tag for Football Club. “I like the logo as well. If I remember right, the colors are similar to the old ones as well.”
Hahnemann both watched NASL games in the Kingdome and starred for the second coming of the Sounders in 1994.
“Obviously it has a lot of meaning to myself, having played with them from ‘94 to ’96, the three years that started my pro career,” he says. “Without them I am not sure if I would be were I am at today.”
As for the future, perhaps the move to name the MLS club Sounders FC brought Hahnemann’s into greater focus.
“I know a lot of people are really excited to be getting a team in the MLS in Seattle and I am sure that those same people are, like myself, very pleased with what we saw. This may make coming home much easier.”
Hope to see you soon.