In unveiling their jersey and lead sponsor, it seems Sounders FC has scored again, and they still haven’t kicked a ball.
Call it a Rave Review of sorts. Before a couple hundred fans Wednesday, the club unfurled a giant replica of its bright green adidas strip, emblazoned with ‘Xbox 360 Live.’ The response: a spontaneous standing ovation.
Stretched across the City End of the Qwest Field stands, the 3,000 square-foot jersey beamed light into a gray Seattle day.
“I like it,” says Eddie, a high school student and player. “I like bright colors, and the green looks really good with the blue sides and white stripes.”
For longtime fans Bill and Jenny, it was love at first sight.
“I think it’s fabulous,” Jenny says. “They are not going to look like anybody else. Everybody’s going to know who we are when they see these colors.”
Adds Bill: “We love it because it’s unique. You don’t see this color combination anywhere else.”
Rave Green, as it’s known, is definitely a departure from the other colors in Major League Soccer and, for that matter, the rest of the world. Without question, Seattle’s new club will be recognizable from the first moment it sets foot on the field.
Even the Xbox logo will generate attention.
Two weeks ago while in Ghana, Sounders FC general manager Adrian Hanauer recalled kids in Accra were no different than those in Akron: They’re immersed in their Xbox video games.
There’s been an Xbox console at Joe Roth’s home for years. The shirt and the sponsor seem tailor-made to the club’s majority owner.
“It feels right to me,” Roth says. “It feels like a hip, young brand, Xbox. It feels like a great connection for our team.”
There are already two popular soccer titles–FIFA and Winning Eleven–being played on Xbox, and Roth says that before long, a new street soccer game could surpass both in popularity.
Robbie Bach, the president of Microsoft’s entertainment and devices division, sees the future in aligning with Sounders FC. The game is growing strong in the U.S., and Seattle’s team plans to go global, playing anybody, anywhere in the world.
“This is going to be a fabulous franchise and we’re getting in on the ground floor,” Bach says. “This ownership group will be the best in MLS, and Microsoft and Xbox are proud to be working with them.”
Bach has two daughters playing the game, and he already knows that when they venture into the local soccer shop next November, when the kit becomes available for sale, the Sounders FC shirts will grab attention.
Although they had guessed correctly on the jersey color, some of the fans attending the announcement seemed to hold their breath.
“I do like it, but I had been nervous about the color,” says Dave, who came to Qwest with his toddler son, Ian. “It looks pretty good and I like Xbox 360 a lot.”
Interjects Ian: “That’s the only kind we have,” and “Those are my two favorite colors.” In fact, Ian came dressed to kill, wearing a kiwi-colored T-shirt, navy pants and shoes bearing both colors.
Back to Dad. “I’m hoping for blue or white shorts,” Dave says. “I’m a big fan of the older Sounders, so it means a lot that they’re going to be green and blue. Different shades, but still green and blue.”
The Sounders FC may not have won, much less played, a game. However, there’s no denying the club’s momentum.
“I love the statements they are making and the fact that they’re listening to the fans,” Dave says. “The traditions that matter to us, matter to them. They are doing things in a first-class way, and everything the ownership group is saying has got me excited.”
Some merchandise, such as caps and T-shirts, will be available at the Qwest Field Team Shop during Saturday night’s Brazil-Canada match. As for the rest of the Sounders FC kit, it will be ready to see this fall.
David, another devotee of Sounders past, present and future, admitted he was initially concerned about Rave, but now intends to wear it with pride. He imagines a sea of green humanity at Qwest home games, and fans elsewhere who are green with envy.
“It’s by far the coolest sponsor in MLS,” contends David, “and it’s a cool color, especially for kids.”
David is a fervent believer in fans having a voice and that Sounders should have been the club’s name all along. He also thinks the franchise has found its groove.
“I think it’s turned out better than we thought,” he says. “To us longtime Sounders fans, it seems like we say, ‘What would be the next best possible thing?’ and two weeks later it happens. That’s how things are going these days.”
OK, people. Here’s something to ponder: With the field players wearing Rave, what’s a Seattle keeper to wear? Let’s get this conversation started.