Zach Scott has cemented his spot in Sounders FC lore with his 12 seasons in Seattle, but his game-winning penalty kick against the Portland Timbers in the third round of the 2010 US Open Cup gave him a signature moment in a rivalry that dates back to 1975.
With that experience and the 29 other matches he had played against Portland in his career behind him, Scott played an integral and motivational part in Seattle’s 1-0 win on Sunday at CenturyLink Field. It was Scott who spoke in the team huddle to give the last words of encouragement and motivation before just before kickoff.
“That was pretty cool. It was definitely up there on my list of amazing things I have been able to do because of soccer,” Scott said. “The inaugural game for the Sounders was something pretty surreal and I feel like this tops that. 40,000 fans already seems so loud that adding 25,000 fans on top of that wouldn’t be a big deal, but it felt like 67,000 fans out there.”
In his pre-match speech to the team, Scott conveyed his emotion while reminding his teammates of the importance of the meeting with Portland and their place in that longstanding rivalry. Since Scott came to the Sounders in 2002, Seattle holds a 22-13-8 edge over Portland and has only lost the season series once (2004).
“That’s something I told the guys before the game – this career is so fleeting. There’s so much uncertainty day-to-day. Whether you’re in the lineup. Whether you have a job next year. But the one thing I know for certain is that we beat Portland. Period,” he said after the match. “We’re always going to be the team to beat. They can say there is a changing of the guard. They can say we’re a group of stars and they’re a team. But in the end, we’re going to be the ones that come out victorious.”
Through his time in MLS, Scott has been a figure of hard work and desire to play the game of soccer. That is never more evident than on emotional night like Sunday when 67,385 fans packed CenturyLink Field for the derby match with the Portland Timbers.
“I think Zach is born for these games,” said goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, who credited the back four in earning his seventh shutout of the season. “His physical play was a huge factor in the game.”
Head Coach Sigi Schmid is well aware of what Scott brings to the team, too. Schmid depends on Scott’s experience and competitive nature and expects him to step up as a leader in big games, especially derby matches against Portland.
“Zach, whether he’s on the bench or starting, is always very much of an emotional leader for our team,” Schmid said. “Certainly his history with the Timbers and his flat-out complete commitment to every second of every game is something that something that helps our team.”
Seattle and Portland meet for the final time this season at JELD-WEN Field in Portland on October 13.