The blue-green smoke hung under the wind-whipped home stand overhead as the opening whistle blew, the Space Needle glowering down from above. Completing the scene was a tifo slowly unfurling in the hulking half-full stand at Memorial Stadium.
“Farewell Zach and thank you.”
Seemingly everywhere you turned Wednesday there were remnants of Zach Scott’s memorable, unmatched career with the Sounders. In one goal was Kasey Keller, the U.S. Soccer legend whose time briefly overlapped with Scott’s when the Sounders joined MLS. There was longtime teammate Roger Levesque’s buoyant gait, working up and down the touchline only slightly more than he worked the crowd. And on the sideline coaching both teams, the indefatigable Osvaldo Alonso and the quick-witted Brad Evans, the only two original MLS Sounders left since Scott’s retirement two months ago.
That’s why all these men were here, why hundreds of fans piled into Memorial Stadium on a chilly Wednesday night, why Scott had reason to be overawed after 90 magical minutes.
The night was a resounding cheers to a career well-served. Scott, the one-club man, got his testimonial match. And it was an occasion he won’t soon forget, even for a man who so notoriously shunned pulling the spotlight on himself during 15 years as a Sounders legend.
“It was the best case out of a very uncomfortable situation,” Scott said. “Everybody out here celebrating my career won’t ever feel right, but in that same vein it was very cool to have everybody out here and realize we’re doing something bigger than that and giving back to the community I’ve made home the last 15 years.”
The match itself was a fitting conclusion to a career in Seattle that started in 2002 with the Sounders in the USL and officially ended in December with the franchise’s first MLS Cup title since joining the league in 2009. Over that time, Scott gradually became known as Mr. Sounder for his iron-man dedication to the team and his ability to fit like a glove into every locker room for a decade and a half.
Wednesday was a chance for fans, friends, family and former teammates to join Scott in the celebration.
Scott’s team for the 90-minute friendly, kitted out in all green with the championship stars festooned over the crest, faced off against another XI of former teammates pulled from players he’d played with in Seattle down the years. The teams were drafted by Alonso and Evans earlier in the week, and Alonso’s team featured Scott, who played in his familiar role as a center back for the duration of the match. His son even got in on the action for the other team and scored a brace.
But Scott’s side ultimately won the day in a fitting 7-5 scoreline. Scott’s Rave Green team trailed 5-4 before pouring on three goals late in the second half, including a brilliant looping goal from Steve Zakuani to tie the game. Scott ultimately stayed put at his spot at center back for the entirety of the match, but he did uncork a wild 35-yard glory-hunting shot with about a half hour left that flew yards above the crossbar.
It hardly mattered to the adoring crowd. As they’d been doing for the entirety of the match, they showered him with boisterous chanting anyway. And with a minute left in the match, Alonso pulled Scott off for one final riotous curtain call.
“For me, he’s more than worthy of tonight,” Evans said. “As a player, you only wish you can get to that occasion. He’s played for one club his entire career, which is insane in this day and age. So for me, just elated for him. I’m so glad his family’s here, family gets to play in the game as well and score some goals. Everyone’s super happy tonight.”
That certainly went double for Scott, who got to ride off into the sunset with the entirety of Sounders nation on his shoulders.
“It was kind of weird just walking into Memorial Stadium, because I hadn’t done that since 2002,” Scott said. “So it was just kind of a funny way that everything ended kind of full circle. But the fact that some incredible players here in the Northwest came out to spend the evening with me is just top notch. Very grateful for (Emerald City Supporters) and the Sounders for doing it.”