Here Comes the Boom

Even the most jaded of the game’s disciples must have been awestruck in 1975, as the world was now arriving to acclaim on Puget Sound’s doorstep.

Never before had a full international team come to the Northwest, nor any world-class player, for that matter. In one early summer fortnight that all changed. Mighty Poland, one of the world’s top three teams of the early Seventies, delivered a powerful performance against the U.S. National Team at Memorial Stadium.

Eleven days later, along with national TV cameras and international press, three-time World Cup winner .Pele´ led the New York Cosmos into Seattle to face the Sounders before a record crowd. The Brazilian legend and scorer of over 1,000 career goals was unable to add to that total as the Sounders prevailed, 2-0.

The CBS audience saw a sun-drenched crowd of nearly 18,000 delight in the skills and showmanship of Pele´, however they reserved their loudest cheers for their own lads.

In their second season, the Sounders met a new rival. They faced the Portland Timbers a total of four times in heated matchups, three of them for high stakes before huge crowds. “Sports Illustrated” chronicled America’s newest and hottest soccer rivalry, and KOMO televised the first live local broadcast, the Sounders’ 2-1 overtime playoff loss to the Timbers.

Soccer’s boom time was evident elsewhere around the region, with youth and women’s participation rates skyrocketing, and big crowds coming not only to see professionals but the college game. There were three crowds of 5,000 or more, including 7,000 at Memorial on a frigid November afternoon for Seattle Pacific and the NCAA Division II championship game.

The young players from the area began making names for themselves. Tacoma’s Strikers won the inaugural U.S. Youth Soccer Association U16 championship and another Tacoma team, the U14 Wanderers, became one of the state’s first to travel overseas, playing and training in England.

Season Record
15-7 (14-5-3), 2nd NASL West, 1st Rnd Playoffs
Coach
John Best (2nd year)
Best XI
Mike England, Arfon Griffiths (1st team)
Top Scorer
John Rowlands (10 goals)
State Men's Champion
Seattle Steelers (won both halves)
Men's Collegiate Postseason
Seattle Pacific, D2 runner-up
NWAC Men's Champion
Bellevue (no playoff Green River runner-up)
Sounders Cup Winner
Washington
WIAA Boys Champion
Mountlake Terrace d Newport, 3-2
President
Karl Grosch
Member Associations
13
Players
27,054 (b: 19,642 g: 7,412)
Largest Attendance
17,925, Memorial Stadium, Sounders v 4 opponents
Largest Amateur Attendance
7,000, Memorial Stadium, Seattle Pacific v Baltimore

1975: Here Comes the Boom

Seemingly overnight, with their impressive crowds and promising young players, Puget Sound becomes recognized as an American soccer hotbed.

Tacoma Boys Win at Home
June 7, 1975

Tacoma Strikers win the first USYSA U16 boys West Regional at Steilacoom, Wash., blasting the Valley Eagles of Van Nuys, Calif., 7-3, on two goals each from John Graves and Mark Peterson.

Match 1: Sounders v Timbers
May 2, 1975

Seattle and Portland meet for the first time at the professional level, with the Sounders getting a penalty kick from Jimmy Gabriel and a penalty save by Barry Watling to claim a 1-nil victory in soggy Civic Stadium.

Rivalry Attracts SI Spotlight
August 2, 1975

Sports Illustrated features the Sounders-Timbers series as it moves to Memorial Stadium and the second meeting in eight days. Barry Powell equalizes in the 90th minute, but Seattle wins it in the 93rd on a golden goal by John Rowlands.

SPC Stopped Short of Title
December 9, 1975

The largest crowd in 41 years to see an amateur game in Seattle – 7,000 fans – witnesses Seattle Pacific scoring first but then falling in the NCAA Division II final, 3-1 to Baltimore in windy, near-freezing temperatures. Runner-up for a second year in a row, SPC coach Cliff McCrath said, “I’m proud of all my boys. Remember, a lot of gals had to go to more than two weddings before they caught the bouquet.”

Fire Claims Trophies, Shop
October 3, 1975

Fire destroys the original Sports Specialties soccer shop at 1530 1st Avenue South, Seattle. More than a uniform and equipment supplier Denzil Miskell’s store was the de facto hub of soccer activity and discussion. In addition to the shop’s inventory, also lost were four State League trophies, including the Eddie Craggs Memorial Cup.

Key Date
Jack Daley, Sounders GM, on NASL rules requiring at least one North American player on the field, beginning in 1976

I don’t believe the fans are interested only in something stamped ‘Made in America.’ I think they want to see the best players available. The way to upgrade American soccer players is through experience and talent, not through legislation.

City Championship Created
September 30, 1975

An intracity competition to be known as Sounders Cup is introduced, with Seattle Pacific, Seattle University and Washington vying for trophy in existing home-and-home regular season series between teams.

Steelers No Match for San Jose
April 20, 1975

Seattle United Steelers equalized in the 11th minute, through assists from Thor Tollefson and Steve Newman to Bruce Walyor, but the San Jose Portuguese pulled away to win the U.S. Challenge Cup West region semifinal, 4-1, at West Seattle Stadium.

Huskies Hoist First Sounders Cup
November 12, 1975

Washington clinches the Sounders Cup series by hammering Seattle Pacific, 4-0, in front of a record attendance for college soccer in the state – 5,200 at Husky Stadium. Doug Buck scored a brace on two long-distance strikes and twin brother Denny Buck posts the shutout.

Play in the Snow? You Bet!
January 26, 1975

Bremerton’s Peewee Association postpones games due to fresh dumping of snow. Disappointed kids bombarded the league office with calls, so the games were played, with the parents marking out the lines on the snow-covered pitches with sand.

Pepe's Triumphant Return
June 14, 1975

After breaking his leg 13 months earlier, Pepe Fernandez returns and in his sixth game back comes off the bench to deliver a 95th minute Sounders winner, 2-1, versus Denver.

It's Official: MT Wins
May 31, 1975

Mountlake Terrace claims the first official state high school championship, 3-2 over Bellevue’s Newport, on a Dale Buske volley with 3:22 remaining at Memorial Stadium. The Hawks come from two goals down in the final 12 minutes despite losing an ejected player. Attendance for the WIAA final is 1,247.

Best Is First But Fourth
January 9, 1975

Sounders coach John Best becomes the first soccer personality nominated for “Post-Intelligencer” Sports Man of the Year award at the Olympic Hotel. Best finishes fourth in the voting, which is topped by bowler Earl Anthony.

Sounders Seek Bigger Home
December 9, 1975

Sounders announce that after two seasons and 17 consecutive sellouts at Memorial Stadium, they are moving to the soon-to-be-completed Kingdome. Awaiting them are modern amenities such as parking, replay screens and protection from the elements, not to mention a larger, uncrowned playing surface. There will be no increase in ticket prices.

Newport Huskies: Joy of Six
March 1, 1975

Eastside YSA’s U17 Newport Huskies win their sixth straight state championship convincingly, 9-2 over Seattle’s Hillwood Kickers, at Memorial Stadium. Steve Moore nets a hat trick and Ron Dorn adds two goals for Fred Conner’s squad.

Pele´Pays First Visit
July 5, 1975

A national TV audience descends upon Seattle for the first time as newly-signed Pele´ visits with his New York Cosmos. The Sounders bring in additional bleachers, boosting capacity to 17,925 at Memorial Stadium. Hank Liotart scores from the spot and Tommy Baldwin seals the 2-0 win.

NCAA Brings Finals to Seattle
June 4, 1975

NCAA accepts Seattle Pacific’s bid to host Division II semifinals, consolation and final at Memorial Stadium. Bid includes Nile Temple Shriners committing to buy 6,000 tickets each day.

Indoor Exposure
February 21, 1975

Sounders play indoor, 6-a-side version for the first time, in NASL regional tournament at San Francisco’s Cow Palace. Seattle is drubbed by San Jose, 14-4.

USMNT Makes Itself at Home
June 24, 1975

For the first time the United States National Team hosts a match in the Pacific Northwest. The USMNT faces Poland, winner of the 1972 Olympic Games and third in the 1974 World Cup. Seattle’s Hank Liotart starts in midfield and both Dave D’Errico and Tim Logush feature in the 4-0 defeat before 13,195.

Opportunity Awaits Americans, Canadians
December 24, 1975

New NASL rules in 1976 stipulate squads reduced from 18 to 16 players and each team must have six North Americans.

Seattle Pacific Advances to Final
November 28, 1975

Ken Hall’s five saves secure the shutout and Daudi Abe gets the goal that avenges previous year’s championship game defeat to Adelphi as Falcons win semifinal before 5,000 at Memorial Stadium.

Huge Crowd, Pitch Invasion in Portland
August 12, 1975

Seattle reaches the NASL playoffs for the first time and although owning the third-highest point total in the league is pitted against points leader Portland in the first round. Before 31,523 (including an estimated 2,000 from Puget Sound), John Rowlands gives the visitors a lead early in the second half before Barry Powell answers. A pitch invasion ensues after Tony Betts gets the winner in the 97th minute.

We’d be here – even if Pele´ wasn’t.
Seattle fan’s banner at Memorial Stadium for Brazilian star’s first Seattle visit
I never had an opportunity to be terribly physical when I was younger. I never competed in sports or in a team situation with women. I am in better physical condition now than I have been in 10 years.
Mary Hunter, player in Washington State Women’s Soccer Association
We’ve been happy in Memorial. We averaged 16,830 a game. But interest indicates we need a larger place. Memorial has only 12,000 seats between the penalty areas. In the Kingdome, we will have 18,000.
Jack Daley, Sounders GM
1975 Washington State Youth Cup Winners
Age BoysGirls
U9 Lake Hills Satellites (EYSA) West Highline Little Kicks (HAS)
U10 McGilvra Donover Devils (SYSA)Skyway Reds (GRJSA)
U11 Totem Trappers (FWSA)Highline Good Guys (HAS)
U12 Totem Tornado (FWSA)Fircrest Sweetfoots (TPCJSA)
U13 Totem Jets (FWSA)Midway Demons (HAS)
U14 Hillwood Hawks (SYSA) Shorelake Roadrunners (SYSA)
U15 South Lakes Hydros (FWSA) Kiwanis Killers (TPCJSA)
U16 Walt's Hotspurs (TPCJSA) Swiftkickers (TPCJSA)
U17 Newport Huskies (EYSA) Ed-Lyn Hyster (SSCJSA)
U19 Sunset Huskies (EYSA) Newport Hills Bombers (EYSA)
On this Day in History