Player Features

"It was the start of something special": Sounders reflect on 15th anniversary of inaugural MLS match

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On March 19, 2009, Seattle Sounders FC took the pitch for their inaugural match as a Major League Soccer club. It was a momentous day, as the Rave Green secured a dominant 3-0 win over the New York Red Bulls in front of 32,000 supports at Qwest Field (now Lumen Field). 

“It was just a whirlwind of events,” said former Sounder Brad Evans. “And to come out against a Red Bull team that had just made the final the previous year was a big test for us, but we got it done.”

“It was an awesome day.”

From the moment Evans stepped onto the pitch for warmups, he knew it was going to be a night to remember.

“None of us, as much as we could prepare during preseason, had no idea what the team was going to look like, how we were going to play, what atmosphere we were coming into, but then you walk out of the tunnel, and it's like, okay, this is for real,” he recalled.

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And when Fredy Montero scored the club’s first MLS goal in the 12th minute, the team knew their first victory was on the horizon.

“We were just flying after that,” said Evans. “I think everyone was so amped up, no one cramped, it was just full on go, go, go for 90 plus minutes.”

Following Montero’s opener, Evans added a second in the 25th minute before Montero completed his brace with a golazo late in the second half to ultimately secure the Sounders’ historical win.

The adrenaline, talent and camaraderie shown from the Sounders side steered them toward success. But, it was the fans and the overall atmosphere in the stadium that night that motivated the team beyond expectations. 

“It was insane,” said former Sounder Steve Zakuani. “Before the game, the stands were already full. Once the game began, none of us were used to that kind of loud sound, we couldn’t hear each other, and you couldn't really hear our coach's instructions.” 

“It just almost felt like an extra push for us.”


So much so, Zakuani remembers his teammate and former Arsenal and Sweden International player Freddie Ljungberg saying the environment of Qwest Field that day was like the feeling of playing in Europe.

“That always stuck with me,” said Zakuani.

Whether it be the loud cheering of the fans or the very first goals scored in the team’s MLS history, it was a day that left a significant impact on the players for years to come.

“I was in awe,” said Zakuani. “It was a goosebumps moment. The hairs on your arms and the back of your neck stand up because you just have never been a part of anything like that and it was just breathtaking.”


It was a surreal feeling not just for the players, but for the fans who witnessed the match in-person as well.

“I would probably say it felt larger than life,” said First Team player Paul Rothrock, who attended the match with his father. “I remember the Sounders looking like superheroes to me.”

Not only did that match set the standard for the remainder of the 2009 season, but it was a decisive point in the club’s history that has allowed the organization to become the thriving franchise it is today.

“It's the reason why the club was able to go on and have a lot of success in those early years,” said Zakuani. “And the club's sustained it for over a decade now and more, and I think you can really trace it back to that night.”

“It was the start of something special.”



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