As they had for so many games in the past, the Emerald City Supporters unfurled a large tifo display at the Sounders FC’s match last week against the Colorado Rapids.
This particular pregame display was aimed at longtime Seattle defender Zach Scott.
While the full section directly behind the south goal waved blue flags, a large two-pole display showed Scott on a surfboard emblazoned with the likeness of FC Dallas midfielder Brek Shea, a player for whom Scott has made the 90 minutes against Seattle a nightmare in each of their matchups with his stifling defense. At the top of the section was a banner reading “Hanging ten for the Sounders.”
The display paid homage to Scott’s ten years with the Sounders, dating back to when he signed after an open tryout in 2002 after finishing his collegiate career at Gonzaga University in Spokane.
“The first thing I wanted to do was figure out some way to thank them,” said Scott, who was on the bench for the Sounders in their 2-1 win over the Rapids. “If I could have run up there and shook everyone’s hand, I would have. It was so cool and so unexpected.”
While the minutes hadn’t been prevalent in MLS play, Scott played a key role on the team that won three straight US Open Cup titles, including sending the Sounders through over the Portland Timbers with the game-winning penalty kick in their shootout win in 2010. He also manned the middle of the back line alongside Jeff Parke in an historic 1-0 win over Monterrey in the 2011 CONCACAF Champions League.
However, Scott’s ten years in Seattle have been highlighted this year by easily his best season in the MLS era.
Just 19 matches into the 2012 season, he has already amassed more minutes than any of his previous three MLS campaigns. With injuries to newcomer Adam Johansson paving the way for Scott at right back, he has been a consistent nuisance to opposing midfielders and forwards that venture to his area of the field.
“It’s been a goal of mine to be more consistent and to be more of an option for the coaches. I think that’s something I struggled with my first couple of years in the league, just finding my niche and how I could be the best player for this team,” Scott said. “I feel like this year I’ve put it together on a more consistent basis. So they can call my name at any time to come in and the team doesn’t miss a beat. It’s been a fantastic year and I hope to continue.”
In his first three years, Scott played all along the backline. He was even the opening day starter at left back in 2009. Now in 2012, he has found consistent minutes at right back, though he also managed to shine as a center back in a 1-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes in the Open Cup quarterfinals.
That success has come through hard work over the course of his career, particularly as the 32-year-old has gotten into the advance stages of his career.