Press Release

Ahead of Saturday's 50th Anniversary Celebration, Sounders FC Unveils Eternal Sounders Circle of Legends

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RENTON, WASH. – To commemorate the club’s 50th anniversary, Sounders FC today announced the Eternal Sounders Circle of Legends, an exclusive honor for those that have distinguished themselves as the greatest players, coaches and builders in Sounders history. Born of the club’s Democracy in Sports ethos, the nomination and selection process give a voice to Alliance Members, Alliance Council, Sounders FC alumni, club representatives and media, among others, to immortalize the best to ever wear the shield. The collaborative endeavor will identify and elect only the individuals deemed worthy by the Sounders community to be officially enshrined.

During Saturday’s 50th Anniversary Celebration against Minnesota United FC (7:30 p.m. PT / Apple TV, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM), the inaugural 1974 Sounders NASL squad will become the first honorary inductees into the Eternal Sounders Circle of Legends, with representatives from the team set to be recognized before the game on the Emerald Queen Casino Pitch at Lumen Field. Alumni from every Sounders team dating back to the club’s very first year are set to be part of a special pre-match ceremony, with fans encourage to be in their seats by 7:10 p.m. PT for this historic occasion.

“We are proud to unveil the Eternal Sounders Circle of Legends and celebrate the iconic members of our soccer community,” said Sounders FC Owner Adrian Hanauer. “As the current stewards of the club, we wanted to establish a way to connect the past and present eras of the Sounders, and we are honored to welcome the inaugural NASL squad to Seattle this weekend to become the first inductees to this elite club. The 1974 team helped inspire my love of soccer as a kid, as it did for so many others in our community. It’s an honor to immortalize them in Sounders lore, and we look forward to bringing many other deserving players, coaches and builders into the fold in the years to come. By embracing Democracy in Sports to work with Alliance Council and other prominent leaders surrounding the club, we are confident this process is in good hands and represents all the values of what it means to be a Sounder.”

In addition to paying homage to the club’s founding year during Sounders FC’s 50th Anniversary Celebration this Saturday, the Rave Green today also unveiled the full details regarding eligibility, nomination, selection and induction for the Eternal Sounders Circle of Legends for 2025 and beyond. There are four categories of individuals that can be inducted – MLS era players, veteran players of the pre-MLS era, coaches of all eras, as well as a Builder category to recognize those that have made a significant impact off the pitch. The intent is to hold an annual heritage tradition to celebrate soccer in the Puget Sound community for generations to come.

“The Alliance Council is honored to participate in this momentous occasion,” said Alliance Council President Cameron Collins. “For years, we have been strong advocates for establishing a way to honor the all-time Sounders greats, and it is truly gratifying to see the Eternal Sounders Circle of Legends come to fruition. We look forward to continuing our work with the club and celebrate the most iconic Sounders players, coaches and builders for years to come.”

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INAUGURAL INDUCTION – SOUNDERS 1974 TEAM

To celebrate both the club’s 50th anniversary and the unveiling of this new honor, the inaugural 1974 Sounders NASL squad is set to become the initial inductees to the Eternal Sounders Circle of Legends before Saturday’s match against Minnesota. The club invites the soccer community to honor its past with a team-centric celebration that pays homage to the organization’s founding year, in addition to kick-starting a meaningful annual heritage tradition.

Members of the 1974 team will be in attendance on Saturday to be honored during a special pre-match ceremony, as just one part of the club’s planned festivities to celebrate the 50thanniversary of the Sounders.

MEDIA NOTE: Accredited media members that are interested in capturing the on-field recognition of the 1974 squad should reach out to Sounders FC Communications for further details. There will also be additional media opportunities with members of the 1974 team and other alumni on Friday, June 14 at the Providence Swedish Performance Center & Clubhouse. Please contact Sounders FC Communications for further details.

FUTURE BALLOT ELIGIBILTY REQUIREMENTS

MLS-ERA PLAYERS (2009-PRESENT DAY)

This category applies to players that played for Sounders FC in Major League Soccer. In addition to having made a significant impact both on and off the field in the greater Puget Sound community, these players must be retired from playing for at least three years. In the event of a death within the three-year voting eligibility period, ballot eligibility is granted.

Ballot-eligible players must hit three of the following criteria:

  • Appeared in 100 matches across all competitions for Sounders FC.*
  • Helped the club win two major trophies (MLS Cup, Supporters’ Shield, Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, Leagues Cup, Concacaf Champions Cup, FIFA Club World Cup).*
  • Received a league and / or team-issued annual award while with Sounders FC (MLS MVP, Sounders FC MVP, MLS Defender of the Year, MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, Sounders FC Defender of the Year, MLS Rookie of the Year, MLS Newcomer of the Year, MLS Comeback Player of the Year, Concacaf awards, etc.).
  • Represented their senior national team in a major international competition while playing for Sounders FC (Gold Cup, Copa America, European Championship, FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, FIFA World Cup, etc.).

*More than two major trophies captured equates to standalone qualifying criteria, as does appearing in at least 200 matches across all competitions for Sounders FC.

If a player achieves four of the above qualifying criteria, they are immediately fast-tracked for ballot eligibility and are not subject to the three-year post-retirement period.

VETERAN PLAYERS (1974-2008)

This category applies to former Sounders who featured for the organization in the NASL, APSL, A-League and / or USL. In addition to making a significant impact both on the field and in the greater Puget Sound community, these players must be retired from playing for more than 15 years (but may still be connected to the sport of soccer). Deceased players are still eligible for posthumous induction.

Ballot-eligible players must hit two of the following criteria:

  • At least 50 appearances for the club across all competitions.
  • Helped the club earn at least one major trophy or received an individual league award.
  • Capped by their international federation at the senior level.

COACHES (ALL ERAS)

This category applies to Head Coaches and Assistant Coaches across all eras of the club, dating back to 1974. These coaches must be retired from coaching for at least three years and have been a positive brand ambassador for the sport of soccer in the State of Washington and made an impact in the greater Puget Sound community. Deceased coaches are eligible for posthumous induction and are not subject to the three-year retirement requirement.

Ballot-eligible coaches must hit the following criteria:

  • Served as Head Coach or Assistant Coach of Seattle Sounders for at least 150 matches across all competitions.
  • Must have guided Sounders FC to at least two major trophies (MLS era: MLS Cup, Supporters’ Shield, Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, Leagues Cup, Concacaf Champions Cup, FIFA Club World Cup).
  • Winning four major trophies counts as an additional qualifying criteria, giving those individuals an exemption from the three-year retirement requirement.

BUILDERS (ALL ERAS)

This category is for individuals that left a distinct mark on the club and the soccer community in a non-playing / coaching capacity, including owners, executives, broadcasters, Alliance Members, social impact leaders, etc. There is no age requirement for these individuals. Deceased individuals are eligible for posthumous induction and are not subject to the three-year retirement requirement.

Ballot eligible Builders must hit the following criteria:

  • Minimum contribution of 10 years of service to the greater Seattle soccer community.

NOMINATION AND SELECTION PROCESS

Using the aforementioned eligibility criteria, the Nomination Committee will compile the final ballot for submission to the larger Selection Electorate. The Nomination Committee consists of Sounders FC Alumni (four representatives), Alliance Council (two representatives), Sounders FC ownership (two representatives) and Sounders FC staff (two representatives). These specific individuals will be selected and announced at a future date, and will serve on the Nomination Committee for three years. The Nomination Committee possesses the ability to recommend changes to all qualifying criteria for larger electoral consideration as the process unfolds.

Once the final ballot of a maximum of six candidates has been compiled by the Nomination Committee, the Selection Electorate votes on individuals for final induction. Each of the following groups below is entitled to a voting bloc in the final selection process:

  • Alliance Members (25 percent)
  • Sounders FC alumni (20 percent)
  • Alliance Council (15 percent)
  • Sounders FC ownership (15 percent)
  • Seattle Soccer media (15 percent)
  • Sounders FC staff (10 percent)

Nominees must meet a threshold of 75 percent of the total vote to advance to the induction stage in their respective categories. Individuals can remain on the nomination list for three years, but there are mechanisms in place to re-enter the ballot under certain circumstances, guided by the Nomination Committee.

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