The Seattle Sounders and Barclays Premier League club West Ham United will play an international friendly on Tuesday at CenturyLink Field (7:30 pm PT; JoeTV, KIRO 97.3 FM/El Rey 1360 AM), the first-ever matchup between the two teams in their history.
If you’re a Sounders fan you probably remember each time the team has played an EPL opponent in the past, but how much do you know about West Ham? Here’s a quick crash course of four things you need to know about this summer’s opponent.
121 Years And Counting
The majority of clubs in England have roots that reach back more than a century, and West Ham is no different. The club was originally founded in 1895 in East London as the Thames Ironworks Football Club as a way to ease tensions between management and workers at the Thames Ironworks Shipbuilding Co. The club was eventually given its current moniker in 1900, but the club’s two most enduring nicknames – The Irons and The Hammers – still stick to this day. The club has also played every season since 1904 at 35,000-seat Upton Park, though they’ll play in 60,000-seat Olympic Stadium in Stratford beginning next season.
A Historic Season
Five years ago the Hammers were relegated after finishing dead last in the Premiership. But since they were promoted back to the top flight in 2012 they’ve been a steady bet to stay put, and they put together their best season to date this year. They’re in sixth place with one game left to play – ahead of EPL heavyweights Liverpool and Chelsea and narrowly behind Manchester United – and they reached the quarterfinals of the FA Cup in March before losing to Manchester United.
A Rising Star
A former player with the Croatian team that reached the semifinals of the 1998 World Cup, Slaven Bilić is now one of the premier coaches in the EPL. He appeared for both West Ham and Everton as a player before making his managerial debut in England last year, and not long after he signed with the team he received some congratulatory text messages from Chelsea boss and iconic European manager Jose Mourinho. “As a coach, I like him a lot,” Mourinho said last fall. “I have a very good image and a very good idea about him. As a person I don't know him very well but I have the feeling that we could be friends."
West Ham has a number of connections to American soccer and MLS - Jonathan Spector, John Harkes and Sebastian Lletget have all played or been developed there - and the ties to Seattle actually date back to the 1970's. Harry Redknapp played for the Sounders from 1977-79 after he made his name with more than 150 appearances for West Ham in the 60s and 70s, and West Ham legend Bobby Moore captained the team for more than a decade before he played briefly with the Sounders in 1978. Current Sounders defender Tyrone Mears also appeared in six matches for West Ham in 2006-07.