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.