The match that started it all.
On March 19, 2009, the Seattle Sounders welcomed the New York Red Bulls to a CenturyLink Field crowd of 32,523 fans, storming onto the MLS scene with a resounding 3-0 victory over the previous year’s MLS Cup runner-up. Fredy Montero bagged a brace and Brad Evans added another to start Seattle’s MLS tenure on the right foot.
“I felt really proud, and anytime you experience that for the first time you don’t want to lay an egg in your first outing in front of those fans,” said Evans. “We were very fortunate to get the result that day. We dominated the game, and I think the fans left happy and felt inspired by us. We also felt inspired by them, which was the ultimate goal in your opening game in your stadium in front of your fans. It made it special.”
Montero, who recorded 47 goals and 34 assists during his four years in Seattle, scored the first goal just 11 minutes into the match, announcing Seattle’s arrival to the rest of the league. That first win, and the raucous atmosphere that surrounded it, catapulted the team to a 3-0 start to its inaugural season.
A successful soccer club requires two ingredients: positive results on the pitch and passionate supporters in the stands. The two components are inextricably linked. When the stadium erupted as Montero’s far-post rocket nestled into the back of the net, it was immediately evident that the Sounders had both ingredients in ample supply.
“When Fredy Montero scored and the guys put it all together and we ended winning 3-0, when we scored that first goal it was almost shock for the whole stadium,” said Sounders FC Vice President of Soccer and Sporting Director Chris Henderson. “It was kind of a shock when we scored and went up and were playing very good soccer.”
Fans will remember the free-flowing attack, Kasey Keller’s saves, Steve Zakuani’s eye-popping skill, Evans’ five-hole goal and Sebastian Le Toux’s immaculate vision. But for the players, the memory of walking onto the field amidst the thunderous cheers from supporters is what defined that fateful evening.
“I’ll never forget walking out of the tunnel for the first time,” recalled Evans. “[The crowd size] was something that was unheard of, especially coming from Columbus. The guys who played on the old Sounders had never really seen numbers like that. That was probably the biggest sticking point of that first game. I had never played in anything even close to that before.”
That thrilling, comprehensive, electric win on March 19, 2009 set the course for a decade of dominance, as the club went on to win five U.S. Open Cups, two Western Conference Championships, one Supporter’s Shield and MLS Cup. The entire Sounders FC legacy – from Mauro Rosales’ laser-guided set pieces to the unstoppable tandem of Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey, from Roger Levesque’s scuba celebration to Roman Torres’ decisive penalty kick in Toronto – can be traced back to that fateful win over New York.
After dismantling the Red Bulls in the club’s inaugural match, the Sounders started the season 3-0, a feat they were unable to repeat in subsequent seasons.
Sounders FC sits atop the league with a 3-0-0 record, and they’re just getting started.