1995 – Around the World and Close to Home
America’s first astronauts are welcomed board Russia’s Mir space station, Oklahoma City’s federal building is truck by a deadly terrorist car-bomb, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg is appointed to the Supreme Court. In Washington, voters reject Paul Allen’s Seattle Commons initiative for development of a 61-acre park in South Lake Union, Shoreline incorporates as a city, and the Seattle Mariners win a one-game playoff to claim their first divisional title and playoff berth, reaching the ALCS.
When Seattle Stood Atop America
This is the autumn when the Sounders stand tall as the best futbol team in all the land. American professional soccer is in transition in 1995. In between the 1994 World Cup and the dawn of MLS in ’96, the A-League is the de facto pinnacle.
“Ninety-five was remarkable for the amount of talent that was in the league,” says Neil Megson, Seattle’s captain. Of the 1995 A-League best XI, within two years seven would make the jump to MLS, and two would be amongst the first MLS Best XI.
“We didn’t see ourselves as minor league in ’94 and ’95 there was no MLS,” says Wade Webber, who along with Megson anchored the central defense. “The foundation of the ’95 championship team was laid with Barry Watling and John Rowlands and the side from the early Seventies. I see that as a culmination 20 years of hard work bringing Seattle a championship.”
The bond between the original Sounders to the resurrected version is more than symbolic. Three starters–Megson, Chance Fry and Bill Crook–played in Sounders’ final NASL game 12 years earlier, and Alan Hinton is back for his second stint as head coach.
There is quality, and it largely sourced from nearby neighborhoods. Eight of the 13 players appearing in the A-League final versus Atlanta are raised in Washington. No player proves more prominent and MLS-ready than Peter Hattrup. He’s flourished as a stylish, attacking midfielder at every stop, winning championships at Seattle Pacific (twice), FC Seattle and indoors with Kansas City. Hattrup is also hungry, having been admittedly off-form the year before when the Sounders were ousted in the semifinal via shootout.
Hattrup not only won a starting spot but at times put the Sounders on his shoulders. Figuring in more than half of the team’s goals, Hattrup led the A-League in both goals (11) and assists (8). “It was the best season of any player I’ve ever played with,” claims Webber. “You give him the ball with three guys on him, and they wouldn’t be able to take it from him. He was that strong and quick and confident. Pete is all about confidence. If he feels he’s got the best of you, he’s going to beat you.”
After going out in the Open Cup semifinals, Seattle is fortified by the addition of Dominic Kinnear and Brian Haynes in August. During the final six weeks Seattle goes 6-0-3 (one draw going as a loss to Atlanta in the first game of the finals). A late equalizer from Jason Farrell, Hattrup’s shootout conversion and a save by Marcus Hahnemann proved the finishing strokes to the ’95 masterpiece before over 5,000 at Memorial Stadium.
More than talented, the ’95 Sounders play together. Hinton is proud of the fact that his team not only won but has fun and entertains crowds along the way. “We had a great team, great camaraderie,” Hattrup says. “It was a group of guys that got along really well and enjoyed going out there and playing together.”
Hoisting a trophy toward the heavens is every player’s dream. Doing so while playing alongside friends in your hometown is priceless.