"It's an honor to be back": Sounders 1974 alumni reflect on their experience with the club

1974 alumni pt. 4

When the Seattle Sounders joined the NASL back in 1974, the team immediately captured the hearts of the city.

The 1974 squad’s grit and perseverance on the pitch was matched only by their dedication to the community.

Five decades later, the legacy of that inaugural squad can still be felt throughout the club. And on Saturday, they will become the first inductee into the recently established Eternal Sounders Circle of Legends, a ring of honor that celebrates the most influential people from the club over the last 50 years.

“It means a lot, especially for my kids because they never got to see me play,” said 1974 forward Otey Cannon. “I feel proud.”

It is a surreal moment for those that were a part of the first Sounders team, receiving recogntion for their achievements after five decades.

“It's an honor to be back,” said former player Hank Liotart.

It is a necessary acknowledgement as the players from 1974 did more than just play soccer; they paved the way for the growth of the Sounders and the sport throughout our region.

“It was a major transition in expanding the quality of the game and the interest in the game throughout the state,” said 1974 forward Roger Goldingay. “The Sounders brought soccer to more than just Seattle and Washington; they ended up overflowing it into Oregon and the west coast.”

The popularity of the Sounders was immediately evident.

“It was unbelievable when we came here in ‘74, people accepted us and treated us like rock stars,” said Liotart. “I'll never forget it.”

1974 alumni pt. 3

In the first season alone, the Sounders had six sell-out crowds at Memorial Stadium and averaged 13,520 fans per match.

Whether it was getting invited to dinners and parties, or the constant support given at the matches, the fans' connection with the 1974 team left a lasting impression on the players.

“Coming up here and seeing that Memorial stadium was packed and then people were also sitting in the endzone where there weren’t even real seats was impressive,” said Cannon.

It was the friendships formed within the organization, however, that the 1974 players reflect on as the most significant part of their time with the Sounders.

“There were amazing relationships that I built with other players,” said Goldingay. “There's always the tough times, the injuries, things that happen that are a little more difficult to deal with, but really, the relationships are what I remember and the good times and the hard fight that we did together.”

Upon reflection of the players’ time at the club in its inaugural year, one word came to mind: comradery.

“It was like a family,” said Liotart.

The club hopes to emulate that same feeling for the 1974 team when they are recognized on Saturday in the Circle of Legends ceremony.

“It's like a closure [moment] that ‘yeah, it really happened,’” said former goalkeeper Ballan Campeau. “[1974] was really an impressive year, it's one that no one else has had, and I'm going to get a Letterman's jacket for it.”

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