Another first for Kasey

Just when Kasey Keller figured he’d done it all, the Sounders’ goalkeeper had a mold of his hands made on Friday as part of the grand-opening festivities for the team’s new Pro Shop in downtown Seattle.

In the final season of a professional soccer career that has spanned 20 years and taken him from England, to Spain, to Germany, to goal for his hometown Sounders FC, Kasey Keller figured he had just about done it all.

Until Friday, when the Sounders’ goalkeeper had his hands molded for posterity as part of the grand opening of the Sounders FC and Seahawks new Pro Shop in downtown Seattle.

“I’ve never put my hands in that kind of compound before,” said Keller, who usually uses his hands to get the Sounders out of jams. “This is definitely a first, so it’s cool.

“At this point in my career, I make hand molds for a Pro Shop. There’s always something new. So today was fun.”

The ceremony, which took place on the sidewalk outside the new store at 410 Pike Street, took some patience on the parts of Keller and Walter Jones – the former Pro Bowl left tackle for the Seahawks who had his right hand molded. Their hands had to remain motionless four roughly five minutes as the solution set, so the impression could then be filled with cement.

While Keller stood, 7-year-old Indigo Kuehn squirmed. She had made the trip from Everett with his father, Darren, and 3-year-old sister, Sienna, because Keller is her favorite player. That was evident by the “I (heart) Keller” T-shirt she was wearing, not to mention the huge smile on her face.

“I came to see Kasey,” Indigo said. “He’s my favorite Sounder, and he’s the goalie.”

Injected her father, “She’s going to play goalie for the first time this year. So getting to meet Kasey, get his autograph and have her picture taken with him is a really big deal for her.”

The grand opening was a pretty big deal for Sue Harris and her staff, as well. As soon as the doors opened Friday morning, Harris, director of retail operations, estimated it took only minutes before a crowd of 50-plus people were inside the Pro Shop. The festivities continue through Sunday, with return appearances by Blitz, Blue Thunder, Sound Wave and members of the Sea Gals.

“This is a great location, with great street presence,” Harris said of the 3,300 square-foot Pro Shop that is close to the intersection of Pike and Fifth Avenue and replaces the outlet that had been on the third level of the Pacific Center.

“We’re right on the corridor of between Pike Place Market and the Convention Center, so there’s great foot traffic. It’s been a great first day.”

By the time Keller and Jones showed up, the crowd had tripled – if not quadrupled. People packed the sidewalk and even spilled into the street on a gorgeous afternoon to watch Keller and Jones dip their mitts.

“Obviously, you can see it’s a pretty good split between Seahawks and Sounders gear,” Keller said while standing inside the Pro Shop and scanning the merchandise, as well as a crowd that also was evenly split. “It shows you just how big the sport is right now.

“And it’s great to see the organizations just so in conjunction with each other.”

The molding process was done by representatives from Abbott Construction, who said the molds should be on display at the Pro Shop by early next week.

Keller opted for the two-handed mold; because that’s the way any goalie worth her save percentage wants to stop every shot.

“It was amazing,” Keller said. “Once it got set enough, and you started to move your hands around, you just felt it give away and you were able to pull them out.”

Keller’s storied career, which began on soccer fields near Olympia as he was growing up, is in the final rush of his final season – and third with Sounders FC.

“It’s obviously something that’s been a focus this whole year,” he said. “Naming that this was going to be my last year early on kind of set that precedent.

“I’m just really happy with the way the season has gone. The team is playing well. I’m trying to play as well as I can. Hopefully we can just have as good a second half as first half, win a couple of playoff games and make a run.”    

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