Zach Scott

To Be A Sounder: A career in the Emerald City with Zach Scott

Zach Scott TBAS

March 19, 2009 will always be a very special day in Sounders FC history.

The date marked the club’s first-ever Major League Soccer match, a 3-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls in front of 32,523 people at CenturyLink Field. Everything was perfect. The goals, the result, the atmosphere – Even the weather was perfectly Seattle.

It was the culmination of nearly two years’ worth of work to bring the club to North America’s top division from the USL level it occupied the four previous seasons.

On the pitch and representing the Sounders that day was defender Zach Scott.

That day and 307 other days, Scott has donned a jersey with a Sounders logo and gone to battle for the city of Seattle.

Because of this, he has become known to many as ‘Mr. Sounder’, the man synonymous with the franchise from its time in the USL to now in its seventh season in MLS. It’s a nickname that, to Scott, means more than just being a soccer player.

To Be A Sounder: A career in the Emerald City with Zach Scott -

“Coming full circle, it’s not only being a Sounders soccer player, but also being part of the community,” Scott told “My kids play local West Seattle soccer, and they go to public school. And my wife is a structural engineer in Seattle. So this is not only a job, but it’s also a home and a lifestyle.

“I’ve never shied away from that fact, and never shied away from talking to people about soccer and building up the Sounders’ brand. If Mr. Sounder means just being a normal dude, then sure, I’m a normal dude and I’ll be Mr. Sounder.”

Celebrated by Sounders fans everywhere for his toughness and unmatched commitment to the club, Scott has become something of a cult figure over those 300-plus appearances.

After beginning his career with the USL Sounders in 2002, he has watched the club grow exponentially in the years since. Once playing in front of 3,000-4,000 people, the 34-year-old is now regularly cheered on by upwards of 40,000 a match. It’s been an evolution that continually amazes him, one that he’s thankful to have been a part of.

“It was such a surreal experience, almost out-of-body, because you didn’t know what the support was going to be like,” said Scott of when he first stepped out on the pitch to face the Red Bulls in 2009. “We had come from about 2,500 fans per game. You just didn’t know what was going to happen, how supportive the fans were going to be or how often they would come out to games. Not even the staff or people in the office had any idea that it was going to take on a life of its own.”

<blockquote><em><strong><span style="line-height: 20.7999992370605px;">“Coming full circle, it’s not only being a Sounders soccer player, but also being part of the community.”</span></strong></em></blockquote>

Much in the same way that the Sounders organization has developed from a second-tier entity with rich history to a full-fledged soccer power in the region, Scott has been right there with the club, advancing his game on the pitch. He’s done so in ways that have helped him remain an integral part of the lineup 13 seasons into his professional career.

Having coached him for Scott's entire MLS career, Sounders Head Coach Sigi Schmid has seen first-hand how Scott never stops striving to improve himself as a player.

“Zach’s longevity with the Sounders speaks for itself,” Schmid said. “He was a guy who, when the Sounders became an MLS franchise, made the team and stuck with the team. That’s a huge tribute to his character. I have never seen or have coached a player who has improved so much technically in the later years of his career as much as Zach has. That’s evidenced by his hard work.

“He’s a Sounder through and through, and he’s out there giving you everything he has every time he trains and every time he plays.”

That devotion to his craft has not gone unnoticed by the Sounders community. His status with the supporters is near saint-like, and that respect is reciprocated.

To Be A Sounder: A career in the Emerald City with Zach Scott -

The relationship has become so strong during his time as a Sounder that Scott wouldn’t consider playing in front of any other supporters, no matter the situation.

“I’d like to think that for a long time, it was a love-hate relationship,” Scott said of the earlier years. “As I continued my career in Seattle and continued to improve as a player, I feel like I’ve kind of earned their trust. I love playing in front of them, and I for sure won’t play anywhere else in my career. It’s something that I hold dear to my heart: that I’ve been able to play 13 years here.”

Scott’s former teammate in both MLS and the USL, current Sounders FC Director of Community Relations and club legend Roger Levesque couldn’t imagine the organization without Scott being a part of it.

“Sitting back and watching him do the things he does on the field now is awesome,” said Levesque. “He has stayed humble throughout the whole process. In terms of my existence with the Sounders, Zach’s been there every step of the way. It would be weird to not have him around.”

By surpassing 300 matches in a Sounders uniform late in the 2014 season, Scott further cemented his place in the club's history books.

He admits it wasn’t something he was actively striving to reach, which further lends to his no-frills demeanor that has been lauded by club, press and supporters alike.

<blockquote><em><strong><span style="line-height: 20.7999992370605px;">“He’s a Sounder through and through, and he’s out there giving you everything he has every time he trains and every time he plays.”</span></strong></em></blockquote>

“I didn’t realize I was getting close to it,” said Scott of the 300 mark reached against Dallas last year. “When I found out, it was nice but it wasn’t anything I looked forward to when I started playing, like, ‘Hey, I want to hit this number of games, or I want to play this number of years.’

"It’s just kind of the way my career has unfolded, that I’ve been able to stay relatively healthy, improve every year and continually be an asset to the team.”

And an asset to the team he has been.

While the team has been consistently successful during its time in MLS, Scott wasn’t always at the forefront. From 2009-2011, the Hawaii native only started 19 matches in league play. But he continued to work, improved the other areas of his play and forced himself into a more prevalent role with Schmid’s charges.

From 2012-2014, Scott started 48 MLS matches, setting career highs in minutes played in two of those years.

“Most people get smarter with age, which he has, but he’s also increased his technical ability, “ said Senior Director of Business Operations Taylor Graham, another of Scott’s former teammates at both the USL and MLS levels.

“He’s so clean on the ball in his distribution, and he’s a two-footed player. That was not the Zach Scott from the USL days. He had the tenacity, won every single ball in the air and never saw a tackle he didn’t think he could win, but he’s brought so much more to the game, so much of the game that is harder to develop at such a late stage.

To Be A Sounder: A career in the Emerald City with Zach Scott -

“Zach’s one of those players that I just admire more and more because I think it gets increasingly difficult to improve as you get older.”

As Scott’s 14th year with the club continues and he builds on those 308 appearances, his unwavering bond with Seattle will grow even stronger.

The powerful, crunching tackles will fly in, the chants about him will be sung from every corner of CenturyLink Field and the legend that is Zach Scott will reach new fans of the Sounders both in Seattle and around the world.

Simply put: There is no Zach Scott without the Sounders. And since 2002 there hasn’t been the Sounders without Zach Scott. He is as much a part of the club as the logo he wears over his heart on matchday.

“It’s so unique, and it’s hard to describe to people,” said Scott of playing for the Sounders organization. “There’s a lot of factors that go into making Seattle successful. From top to bottom, it’s an unbelievable organization and something that I’ll look back on and be really proud of having stayed here as long as I have.”



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