There’s something special about playing for your hometown club and Cam Weaver knows that all too well.
The newly-signed Sounders FC forward and Kent, Wash., native has sought a move back home ever since he left the USL Sounders in 2006 to play in Norway. And now that he dons the Rave Green, he’s poised to show the passion he has for the team and the community.
“I love the city. I love this area. The club has done great things already and I want to do whatever I can do to win championships,” Weaver said, noting the connection that the club has to the community with six players from the Seattle area on the roster. “They bleed the colors of their local club and they want them to succeed more than any other team. It’s a motivating factor.”
That passion started at an early age for Weaver.
In October of 1995, a 13-year-old Weaver watched from the stands at Memorial Stadium when Marcus Hahnemann stopped a shootout attempt to give the Sounders the A-League title in dramatic fashion over the Atlanta Ruckus.
That is a moment that has stuck with Weaver and one he shared with Hahnemann not long after he started working out with the team during preseason.
“One of my best childhood soccer memories was watching them win a championship at Memorial Stadium and the crowd rushing the field and he was the goalkeeper,” Weaver said. “A lot of the Sounders legends were playing there. That was an important moment in my life where I got to experience the Sounders soccer atmosphere.”
For Weaver, now 30, it was a long road back home, but beaten paths have never been his forte.
After finishing high school at Kentwood, Weaver saw an opportunity to continue to play soccer by taking the community college route, playing two seasons at Skagit Valley before transferring to Seattle University in 2004. As a junior, he helped the Redhawks to an NCAA Division II championship by going 22-0-1. He followed that eight-goal season with nine goals in 2005 to lead Seattle U. Even still, he was the last player signed by the Sounders in the USL in 2006.
Once he found himself in the starting lineup, he just couldn’t stop scoring, finishing the season with 18 goals to tie for the league lead with Brazilian World Cup legend Romario. His efforts drew attention from overseas at FK Haugesund in Norway, where he would score 21 goals in 51 matches before returning to the U.S. in 2009, signing with the San Jose Earthquakes. After a brief stay in which he scored one goal in nine appearances, he was traded to the Houston Dynamo, where he would play five seasons before finally getting his opportunity to come back home to Seattle.
“I thought about coming here every year since I’ve been gone. I talked to my wife and we said that if we ever had the chance to come back here, we would take it,” Weaver said. “It’s taken a little longer than we probably would have liked, but that’s how things go. I’m just happy that I’m here now.”
Even with those five years of MLS experience that saw him net 13 goals and five assists over 90 matches, he wasn’t assured of a spot on the Sounders FC roster. When he and his wife weighed their options in the offseason, though, the chance to play in Seattle outshined contract offers he had elsewhere.
“I wanted to give myself every opportunity to play here. I had other options to go other places, but I turned all of those down for the chance to play here. I was going to do everything in my power to come out here and prove that this is where I want to play,” he smiled. “I was going to be here until they kicked me out the door. Then, maybe, I would have left.”
What he brings to the Sounders is more than just pride in the club, city and community. The 6-foot-4 forward played a key role for the Dynamo, helping Houston reach the Conference Finals in four of his five seasons, including two MLS Cup final appearances in 2011 and 2012.
Those high expectations will help him adjust to playing in Seattle - one of three teams to reach the playoffs in every season since the club’s inaugural season in 2009.
“I had a great time in Houston. It was a good franchise to play for,” Weaver said. “The expectation is to be competing for a championship every year and now coming here, that’s the expectation here, so the same things are going to apply.”
Weaver joined the team late in training camp and is working his way into fitness. He scored a goal in a reserve match against the University of Washington and is in a battle for playing time on a deep Sounders FC roster.