Through 40 years, a legacy and tradition has formed around soccer in Seattle. The stories, the players, the coaches and the many, many successes that the Sounders of the NASL, A-League/USL and MLS have brought to soccer fans in the area are being celebrated this year by Sounders FC throughout the year, highlighted by a ceremonial 40th anniversary match on October 10 against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
“Tradition is important in any club and certainly the Sounders have a tradition that extends beyond the current Sounders,” said Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid. “To acknowledge that and recognize that and bring that all into the forefront this year with the 40th anniversary is important. Being able to make them feel that this is part of what they built and part of what they started, I think is tremendous.”
Sounders FC unveiled a 40th anniversary logo that will be featured on the club’s new third kit and on the club’s signature Rave Green kit for eight regular season matches. The club will carry 40th anniversary merchandise and display a commemorative banner in the Southeast corner of the stadium, all while honoring former players and coaches throughout the season.
Some of those key figures are still deeply involved in the organization, including Brian Schmetzer, who played in the NASL and A-League and coached in the USL and now is the club’s top assistant coach, and longtime Sounder Zach Scott, who is entering his 13th season in Seattle.
The birth of the Sounders in the North American Soccer League in 1974 started the longstanding tradition of pro soccer in Seattle. Even after that team dissolved in 1983, local teams in the Western Soccer League and Major Indoor Soccer League kept pro soccer alive until the re-launch of the Sounders in the A-League in 1994.
While some, like Homegrown Players Sean Okoli, Aaron Kovar and DeAndre Yedlin, got their indoctrination into the Sounders tradition while watching the team that own championships in 1995, 1996, 2005 and 2007, goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann was the backbone to the first two championship sides and grew up watching the NASL squad.
“This is the team that I used to watch when I was a kid. I used to watch Jack Brand and Joe Corrigan in the Kingdome and those are the earliest memories I have of the Sounders,” Hahnemann said. “We have that history and it’s not in the same stadium, but people remember that. And that’s the base that was there in 1994 when I was with the Sounders and it’s only gotten bigger.”
Former players and coaches will be honored on match day throughout the 2014 season as part of the year-long celebration that was developed in partnership with the Alliance Council.
Sounders FC Director of Business Operations Taylor Graham played a role in developing the anniversary celebration and has a unique outlook on the traditions of the club. He played in Seattle for three seasons in the USL and three seasons in MLS, winning two USL titles and three U.S. Open Cups in the process.
“The 40th anniversary is about the players and the memories they created for the fans, each other, and the city of Seattle,” Graham said. “Oftentimes I look back at my time with the club and remember the relationships and personalities more than the wins and losses. All of these experiences and individuals make the club what it is today.”