Seattle States its Case

Investors in American professional soccer, emboldened by the high viewership ratings for the 1966 World Cup final, creates 22 teams and two warring leagues in 1967. Vancouver secures a United Soccer Association franchise, the Royal Canadians, and there is rumored interest in expanding soon to Seattle.

With that as the backdrop, local promoters arrange to bring Chelsea to Memorial Stadium once the English season is completed, on May 28. The Blues finish ninth in the first division and advance to the FA Cup final, where they fall, 2-1, to Tottenham on May 20. They promptly take flight to the West Coast of North America where they also make stops in Los Angeles, Vancouver and Victoria. It’s all part of a 24-day tour through the U.S. Canada and Bermuda.

Rarely was admission charged and attendance taken at soccer matches around Puget Sound to that point, so the Chelsea game would serve as the first barometer for soccer as a business. Tickets were priced $2 in advance and $1 for students and children.

Elsewhere, some of Chelsea’s touring dates featured another foreign invader. Seattle settled on a local contingent. The Hungarians might have been more rehearsed and cohesive as a team, but instead Alex Lennox was appointed manager and it became a select squad. The Hungarians were well represented, and all of the Northwest All-Stars were foreign-born. Baldwin, the future Sounders midfielder, scored twice in Chelsea’s 5-0 win.

More importantly, the match attracted 6,400 spectators – a respectable turnout and comparable to most NPSL and USA games. It was sufficient to spur further discussion of Seattle acquiring a team for a few months, and for the next five years European clubs would come calling for springtime friendlies.

However, the notion of getting a professional franchise waned when the two leagues, both facing financial strains, agreed to merge before 1968. Instead of expansion there was contraction, down to 17 total teams.

Effectively, the Chelsea match was the last significant sporting event played on the old, rocky (and in winter, muddy) Memorial sod. In August, the Seattle School Board voted to install Astroturf, making the it the world’s first football and soccer facility to do so (although the college stadium in Bloomington, Indiana was the first to stage a competitive event).

Northwest Champion
Seattle Hungarians 9:0 Portland All-Stars (Ore.)
State Men's Champion
Seattle Hungarians (won both halves; no playoff necessary)
State Knockout Cup
Seattle Hungarians 2:0 Germania
WASHINGTON YOUTH SOCCER
President
Jack Mickelberry
Players
480 (boys)
Largest Attendance
6,400, Memorial Stadium, Chelsea v Northwest All-Stars

1967

1967: Seattle States its Case

Testing the waters for America’s new professional soccer leagues, Seattle hosts Chelsea in the first of six annual international friendlies at Memorial Stadium.

All-Stars Experience The Blues
May 28, 1967

Considered a bellwether for whether Seattle could support a team in one of the two new professional league, FA Cup runner-up Chelsea visits Memorial Stadium. The young Blues (oldest starters age 26), featuring $225,000 signing Tommy Baldwin, beat the Northwest All-Stars, 5-0, before a crowd of 6,400.

Hungarians: No Equal
March 12, 1967

The Hungarians clinch the second-half title and avert a championship playoff by blanking the Continentals, 2-0. The Magyrs eventually finish with a 9-0-1 record.

Exchange Rate Increases
March 25, 1967

The fifth year of the Canadian Exchange features still more teams crossing the border. In all, 127 Seattle area teams participate, with the Americans improving their record to 27-52-19.

Olympic Team Prospects
May 23, 1967

Four state youths – Mike Dawson, Mike Carney (both of Buchan Bakers), Mark Smith (Lake Hills) and Steve Thorne (Edmonds Hansen Hotspurs) – are chosen by State Junior Soccer Commission for the U.S. Olympic Development camp in San Jose, June 18-24.

State League a Melting Pot
October 22, 1967

State association secretary Ed Craggs notes that the 18 first and second division teams feature players from 39 different countries, many of them having played professionally or semipro before coming to the state league.

Memorial First to Install Turf
August 17, 1967

Monsanto begins installation of Astroturf at Memorial Stadium, making it the first football and soccer facility to do so. It’s like a dream, to get the kids out of the mud,” states Harvey Lanman, Metro League athletic director. The Seattle School Board voted to purchase the rug as a cost of $174,468. [Memorial also installs ‘slingshot-type’ goalposts.

Untouchable Magyrs
February 26, 1967

Les Muller buries four goals in rival Buchans’ net to keep Hungarians unbeaten (6-0-1) in state first division.

Canadian Kids Win Out
December 3, 1967

North Vancouver sweeps Seattle CYO all-stars in Oldershaw series, taking the second leg, 3-2, at Lower Woodland after winning the opener, 2-0.

England '66 on Silver Screen
November 21, 1967

Edgemont Theatre in Edmonds screens “Goal,” official film of 1966 FIFA World Cup. State league coach Alex Lennox and Huskies coach Mike Ryan serve as hosts. The Seattle Times reports: “One does not have to be a soccer fan to appreciate the color, the crowds, the action caught by the cameras in ‘Goal!’

Hungarians' NW Threepeat
April 9, 1967

Hat tricks by Mike Kuczi and Les Muller fuel Seattle Hungarians’ 9-0 rout of Portland All-Stars at West Seattle Stadium for their third consecutive Northwest championship.

Blanked in Bay Area
March 5, 1967

Despite dominating the number of chances, the Seattle Hungarians fall to the San Francisco Greek Americans, 1-0 in a goal in the second minute, in the West semifinals of the National Challenge Cup before 2,500 at Balboa Park.

Win No. 1 for Seattle U
October 26, 1967

Seattle University earns its first varsity intercollegiate victory, 1-0, over Shoreline Community College on Joe Zavaglia’s goal at Lower Woodland. The Chieftains, who formed their program hastily in September, proceed to win the next five games.

Liberty Park Upgrade
March 5, 1967

Renton’s city council votes to appropriate $92,000 to build new stands, locker rooms and other improvements to Liberty Park, long the favorite site for all athletics, including soccer, in that city.

The players do not want to be known as the Hungarians or the Germans or what-ever they want to be known as Americans playing for Seattle.
Zoltan Mako, Hungarians star midfielder, after representing Northwest All-Stars versus Chelsea
I would like to register a complaint about Channel 7’s decision not to carry telecasts of the National Professional Soccer League on Sunday afternoons…Are not station officials aware that soccer is the world’s most popular athletic game?
Letter to Seattle Times editor, after KIRO delays games up to six days and pre-empts others
Seattle’s next major-league venture in professional sports will not necessarily be in the field of football or baseball. It is more likely to be soccer.
Vince O’Keefe, Seattle Times
It’s going to be even better than I imagined it would be. It’s thicker and nicer. Just think, no more mud or gravel or sand or rocks. Rain or shine, makes no difference.
Harvey Lanman, Metro League athletic director, on Memorial Stadium's newly-installed Astroturf
On this Day in History