1982 – Around the World and Close to Home
A worldwide recession results in the highest U.S. unemployment rate (10.8 percent) since the Great Depression, Great Britain retains possession of the Falkland Islands following a 10-week war with Argentina, and Paolo Rossi returns from a lengthy suspension to lead Italy to victory at the World Cup. In Washington, the first of an eventual 49 victims of the Green River Killer is found, Seattle becomes known as the Emerald City and a Cabernet Sauvignon from Walla Walla is judged the best in the nation.
Lowenbrau, Ryan Leave a Legacy
Although they would be known by three different sponsor names at their zenith, FC Lowenbrau Zurich was, in fact, the same dominant Seattle side all along.
Formed in 1975 from a group of University of Washington coeds who had convinced Husky men’s coach Mike Ryan to coach them, Lowenbrau’s methodical march from eager beginners to national juggernaut is marked by retiring the U.S. Women’s Open Cup trophy after a third successive championship in 1982.
When Lowenbrau thrashes Rochester (NY) Wave, 5-1, in the final, both the score line and their quick, sharp passing attracts attention. Coaches and players from the men’s U.S. Open Cup final between L.A. Maccabees and New York Freedoms watch and marvel. “That ladies team plays very well,” says Freedoms coach George Bakaroudis. Other observers – player, coaches, media – agree: It’s a dazzling display.
It’s the most one-sided victory in a final. As PCI Sharks in 1980, the Seattle women won via penalty kicks. In 1981, as FC Ramlosa, it was a 1-0 decision at home, in Memorial Stadium.
More than victories, Ryan preaches precision and sportsmanship. The end result is a beautiful, sometimes joyful presentation of the game. He admits his gruff exterior can irritate, even drive some players away. Ryan wants his players to dress impeccably for the occasion, whether a practice or a match. He demands their complete attention, and he always wants his players thinking.
“What I like is his dedication to perfection,” says Suzanne Brown, one of his over-30 players for Bellevue Blue Angels, winners of the national masters’ division in 1980 and ’81. “He can show you how to do something and demand you do it correctly.”
Ryan had risen to local prominence first for his advanced technical abilities as a player for Buchan Bakers. He then began coaching youth, and became UW coach in 1966. However, after 11 seasons he left. He kept coaching the women, however, and soon organized and served as first president of the Washington State Women’s Soccer Association.
“The rewards you get from the women are that they do listen and they want to learn more,” notes Ryan. “Guys get on me and say ‘What are you doing with a bunch of women? And I say, Why not? Why shouldn’t they have a good coach? They play soccer. It’s part of the game. We want to expose the game.’”
“His vision was incredible,” says Denise Boyer. “He had a vision where we played using our skills, where the game was well thought-out.”
“I yelled a lot, but I wanted to leave a dynasty behind,” explains Ryan. I believed in them from Day 1. I told them they were the future coaches of the nation.”
After winning the first three editions of the Women’s Open Cup, Lowenbrau and Ryan’s legacy is legitimate. Many of these players will go on to play for collegiate championships and the first U.S. National Teams, and Ryan would be there to welcome them.