Ted Smith is a Seattle transplant. He has his sports allegiances back home in the DC area. Then the radio show that he worked on - The Men’s Room with Miles Montgomery and Steve “The Thrill” Hill - moved from Baltimore to Seattle in 2005, he kept those allegiances rather than leaping to the bandwagon of a team in his new home. Four years later, the Sounders FC changed that notion and had him hooked.
I caught up with “Thee” Ted Smith from 99.9 KISW’s “The Men’s Room” (2-6 pm Monday-Friday on 99.9 FM) and talked about his love for the Sounders and how it compares to some of his other great loves - college football and music - in this edition of “Who’s Your Club?”
Q: Where did your passion for soccer come from?
A: My buddy Seany Mac - he’s a huge soccer fan, a huge United fan - I started playing Wednesday night pickup basketball games with him and a few other guys and they were all big soccer guys. It was the year the Sounders were stepping up to the MLS level. He told me I had to get into it, so I started watching it. Then I started watching Prem games. It filled a void in my life that I didn’t know was there. I’m not a Seahawks fan. I wasn’t a Sonics fan. But the Sounders … as a transplant, this club gives me pride in the city.
Q: What teams did you support in other sports before you got into soccer?
A: My No. 1 passion is University of Maryland football and basketball. I’m a big college football nerd and I used to be a big NFL guy, but then Dan Snyder started running the Redskins - it was just brutal. He’s an awful owner. I don’t like the whole NFL thing. You can’t even take your family to the games. Once I started getting down on the NFL, soccer came into my life. It was a perfect time.
Q: Is there a team overseas that you follow?
A: Arsenal. There was an article by Bill Simmons on how to pick your Prem club. (Read here) I couldn’t be a Manchester United or a Chelsea fan because everybody is. I looked at Man City for a while, but then I said, ‘Am I ever going to go to Manchester?’ Now, is there a chance I might go to London? Yes. So then I narrowed it down to London clubs. Then when I was learning, I watched them play once and I knew that was my team. Two touches is too much. It’s just quick passes. Attack, attack, attack.
Q: What is it like in your office? Are they grasping soccer or are you the one carrying the flag?
A: Not anymore. When it first started, I was the first one out there. Once you go to a Sounders match, it’s going to change your whole view on soccer in America. They all started going. Thrill would watch them all the time and we would come in on Mondays and be talking about what happened in the games over the weekend. We’re all learning it as we’re watching it. It’s fun. Everybody’s watching now and I asked them and they gave me the authority to say, ‘(Forget) Portland.’
Q: So, how do you end up with a Ben Dragavon jersey?
A: Sean McCormick played up at Western with Drago. One night we were all out and he was out with us and we were like the new Rat Pack. We had a professional soccer player, a couple of DJ’s and a guy that runs a company that makes bacon flavored products. Me and Drago just became buddies and I love that jersey. Nobody has a black keeper kit. It kills at Fuel. The ECS guys love it.
Q: Do you see anything like the supporter culture around other sports in America?
A: I compare what they have going in England and what we have here and, truthfully, what the Timbers Army has to college football in the south. I’ve been down to Baton Rouge for a night game at LSU and there’s 103,000 people. It’s the same thing. In college football, you just yell stuff. You don’t sing. That’s one of the reasons I fell in love with soccer. It reminded me so much of the crazy college football fanatics.
Q: How does it compare to a concert?
A: It’s different. When a band performs, you go to watch them perform. The guys on the club, they’re going out to perform, but you’re not just there to watch them perform. That excitement is different. The fans have way more invested. If you go to see Metallica and they have an off-night - which isn’t going to happen - it’s not going to bum you out like when you drop two points. I was bummed out when that happened against Portland. I thought that was perfect though. It had to be pouring rain on national tv. And it had to end in a 1-1 draw. And I AM going down there with the ECS guys in July. It’ll be my first road game and I don’t know what I‘m getting into, but they promised me I’ll be ok.
Q: What is game day like for you?
A: When I’d watch Maryland football, I’d get butterflies from the moment I woke up on a Saturday morning. Before I’d go on stage (with a band made up of DJ‘s at 99.9 called The New Originals), that’s what I love - that nervous feeling. With the Sounders, it was the second thing I found in my life that gives me that nervous twitch. It’s the juice. I was down here at 10:30 am (before the Portland match). I couldn’t sleep. I just threw on my bag and came down to check things out.
Q: What was your favorite game and your favorite goal?
A: Man. That’s a good question. My favorite goal - I’m sticking with Pat Ianni’s bicycle kick goal. It was a beautiful, sunny day. Just a great goal. Some people take Montero’s at New York, but I’m sticking with Pat. My favorite game before the Portland game was the playoff game against the Galaxy. At least, until about 30 minutes in when it looked like LA was just going to woop us. Me and my buddies started off the day early and I had Bennie’s jersey on and I wore ‘keeper pants and gloves. We were just running through town - doing karaoke through the crosswalks. That and we’d stop and pose like we were taking a picture before we went into every bar. It was awesome.