Sounders FC defender Damion Lowe sent the ball far forward from the back line. Spinning around with a defender on his back, Forward Andy Craven struggled to create space between him and the defender to get a clear shot. Two bounces off defender’s head, Craven was fighting, trying to break free as it fell in front of him with his shoulders parallel to goal.
One more bounce off the turf and Craven decided to have a shot. His right foot connected and sent the looping ball over Sacramento Republic FC keeper Patrick McLain. The goal broke a 0-0 deadlock in the second half, opening the striker’s account in Rave Green, and cementing the rookie in Sounders FC history.
“I hadn’t really grasped that’s what it was in the moment, I was just trying to help my team win,” said Craven. “I didn’t realize until after the game that was the first goal in team history. I was just out there trying to help us get the win and getting things rolling for us.”
Getting things rolling is exactly what Craven did. Through a scoreless first half, Craven often found himself just shy of being on the end of a ball sent from the defensive half. However, this particular pass forward broke it all open for S2, which went on to win 4-2 over the defending USL champions.
“The ball was dropped back to Damion and he seemed like he didn’t have much time on it so I was waiting for him to clear it up the field and he saw me and we connected,” said Craven.” “I was just trying to hold the defender off and create some space. He was looking for any touch on the ball that he could possibly get. He had one bad touch and it dropped to me and I just lifted it as soon as I had the first chance.”
With his heart pounding and with a scrambling keeper chasing the ball as it glided into the back of the net, Andy turned his back and started sprinting toward his coaches on the sideline.
“As soon as I had the opportunity, I hit it. I didn’t even the ball go in to the goal,” he said. “I just hit it over and started running away I was so excited.”
The Georgia native is no stranger to scoring. He was tied for the national lead with 15 goals last season, and was a finalist for the MAC Hermann trophy his senior year at University of North Carolina. In his first game as a professional, the 23-year-old striker is already making a name for himself.
“I have felt so much love from the community since scoring that goal,” said Craven. “The fans have been really supportive and endearing and it makes it feel more special and even more important. The excitement and familiarity of putting the ball in the back of the net is the same, but the atmosphere that the Sounders fans bring to the games makes everything so much more electric.”
That outpouring of support from fans came from social media but also in a unique way Craven wasn’t expecting.
“The fans told me they want to sing a song for me at the minute mark that I scored, and I couldn’t believe it. This is a special group of people in Seattle and I am so glad to be a part of it,” he said.
In 2009, the first goal scored for Sounders FC was by Fredy Montero who now plays for Portugese side Sporting CP. Montero is still the all-time leading goal-scorer for the Sounders across all competitions.
Craven says it would be nice to follow in the footsteps of Montero, but wants to focus on building his game for the time being.
“By no means can you plan to have that success, but I am doing everything I can on a daily basis to prepare myself to do something as special as Montero and other players have done,” said Craven. “It takes commitment, motivation, hard work, passion and drive but people in this organization have laid solid foundations to be able to do something like that.”