Welcome to the Big Time

Around the World and Close to Home

A nationwide party is celebrated July 4 for the U.S. Bicentennial, highlighted by New York’s grand parade of 15 tall ships and extravagant fireworks display. Jimmy Carter wins the presidential election and eccentric film and aviation tycoon Howard Hughes dies mysteriously, leaving $1.5B. The Summer Olympics come to Montreal and Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci earns the first perfect score of 10.0. Dixy Lee Ray is elected the first female governor of Washington, city, county and state lawsuits against the American League are settled when a Major League Baseball expansion team is offered, to begin play in 1977, and the 66,000-seat Kingdome opens in Seattle and hosts over 2.4 million visitors in its first 10 months.

Welcome to the Big Time

If soccer’s passion and popularity among Washingtonians was unknown outside the region before, certainly the rest of the nation, if not the world, took notice in 1976. Suddenly everything gets very big, very fast.

When the Sounders made the decision to pull-up stakes uptown and make the spacious new Kingdome their home, suddenly Seattle becomes more than just a quaint success story tucked away in a faraway corner of the world. The determination to depart Memorial Stadium is understandable. After repeatedly adding capacity, the Sounders had no room for growth without either investing in extensive renovation or becoming the first tenant under the world’s largest concrete roof. Once they landed upon the latter, they had gone big-time.

The Kingdome’s first sporting event is an exhibition between the Sounders and newly signed Geoff Hurst and New York Cosmos, featuring world-renowned Pelé. Since the teams are not scheduled to meet during the regular season, general manager Jack Daley entices the Cosmos with a $50,000 guarantee. One month prior to the match, with sales at 15,000, Daley says he will be disappointed not to reach 40,000. “What we are gunning for is the largest soccer crowd in American history.” In 1926, Hakoah Bienne faced the New York all-stars before 46,000 at the Polo Grounds.

By mid-March, the buzz is becoming tangible all sideline seats in the first level are sold. That includes some 12,000 season ticket holders. Yet in the final days the sense of occasion washes over the region. The soccer fans having long since secured their seats, now the audience expands to the general population, most of them to witness the first soccer game in their lifetime. The sales click continuously upward: 37,000 on April 4 44,000 by April 6 and 36 hours before kickoff the record is smashed. It’s a sellout of 58,128 by game time (6,000 seats have yet to be installed). Pelé does not disappoint, twice scoring on free kicks in the 3-1 Cosmos win. Daley and the Sounders clear of a profit exceeding $150,000.

During the previous NASL season, Pelé’s first in America, there had been 13 crowds of 20,000 or more. In 1976, the Sounders finish with 12 attendances beyond that threshold during the regular season and playoffs, plus three others for this friendly as well as the Team America-Brazil Bicentennial Cup and Soccer Bowl. Beyond just capacity, Kingdome’s greater field dimensions also prompt the Sounders to host their first international friendly (Glasgow’s Rangers) and FIFA’s first World Cup qualifier to be played indoors.

It's not only the appetite for Seattle fans that is satisfied. The Sounders play preseason games in six cities, including Spokane and Yakima, and Tacoma procures its own American Soccer League club, although Cheney Stadium’s baseball configuration proves an odd fit. Over time, because of its sheer size and sterile atmosphere the Kingdome will develop its share of detractors. Still, it allows the world to take notice of the exceptional level of support in Washington.

Season Record
14-10, 2nd West, quarterfinals
John Best (3rd year)
Best XI
Mike England
Top Scorer
Gordon Wallace (12 goals)
Season Record
10-5-6, 2nd West, Semifinals
Head Coach
Dan Wood (1st year)
Best XI
David Chadwick
Top Scorer
David Chadwick (9 goals)
Men's Collegiate Postseason
Seattle Pacific D2 1st rnd Washington D1 1st rnd
NCSC Men's Champion
NCSC Women's Champion
Western Washington
NWAC Men's Champion
Sounders Cup Winner
Boys Regional Champion
Norpoint Royals U16
WIAA Boys Champion
Largest Attendance
58,128, Sounders v New York (ex)
Largest Amateur Attendance
4,500, Washington v San Francisco

1976: Welcome to the Big Time

When the gigantic Kingdome opens, suddenly the potential for the game is far, far greater.

Spokane Seeks NASL Team
December 3, 1976

A group seeks to move the Philadelphia Atoms to Spokane before the 1977 NASL season. Jerry Overton tells the city's chamber of commerce that 5,000 season ticket deposits must be sold by Jan. 1, 1977. Deposits are $10 per ticket on season packages for games at Joe Albi Stadium start at $48. The franchise ultimately goes into receivership. A Sounders preseason game attracted 4,400 earlier in the year.

Bandov Starts, Scores Brace
August 7, 1976

Boris Bandov makes the most of his first start, scoring two second-half goals in 3-0 Sounders win at Portland. It’s the fourth straight shutout for rookie Tony Chursky. Seattle extends unbeaten streak to six matches (five wins, one tiebreaker win) and clinches second place in the Western Division.

Seattle Sets NASL Attendance Mark
July 17, 1976

With expanded capacity of their new home, the Seattle Sounders establish a new NASL season attendance record with three home dates still remaining. Nearly 26,000 see a 1-0 victory over San Antonio. Seattle has approximately 10,000 season ticket holders and eventually totals 285,941 for the season, an average of 23,828. Both shatter records set by San Jose (17,927 average) in 1975.

Bandov Scores in USMNT Debut
September 24, 1976

Sounders forward Boris Bandov scores in his international debut, a 1-1 tie with Canada at Vancouver’s Empire Stadium. Bandov gives the USMNT a first-half lead by chipping over Seattle teammate Tony Chursky in the World Cup qualifier.

England Hero Hurst Joins Sounders
February 5, 1976

Seattle Sounders sign England '66 hero Geoff Hurst, scorer of the first hat trick in a World Cup final. Hurst, 34, comes from West Bromwich Albion after scoring 180 goals for West Ham and 24 more for England, including three in the 1966 World Cup final, a 4-2 extra-time win over West Germany at Wembley Stadium.

Washington Bounced from NCAA
November 19, 1976

San Jose State got a pair of goals from Steve Swadley to defeat Washington, 4-1, in the first round of the NCAA Division I tournament in San Francisco. It’s only the second loss for the Huskies, who had won seven in a row to finish the regular season. Jano Baghdanian had brought UW within 2-1 in the 39th minute.

Huskies Upset No. 1 USF
October 9, 1976

Dan Larson nets two goals and Danny Vaughn adds a third as Washington shocks defending NCAA champion and No. 1-ranked San Francisco, 3-1, before 4,500 fans at Husky Stadium. Cliff Brown makes seven saves for the Huskies (3-0-2).

Falcons Ousted in 4 Overtimes
November 15, 1976

Seattle Pacific punches two goals past a stingy Chico State defense, but the Wildcats score out of a scramble in the fourth overtime period to eliminate the Falcons from the first round of the NCAA Division II tournament at Memorial Stadium. Chico State had allowed only five goals in 15 previous games, but Terry White opened the scoring in the 58th minute and Steve Newman sent it into extra time in the 81st.

UW Takes Conference Lead
November 10, 1976

Paul Mendes scores early and Denny Buck preserves the lead with five saves so Washington can overtake Seattle Pacific in the NCSC race at Husky Stadium. Washington proceeds to reclaim the conference trophy for the first time since 1973, by one point over the Falcons.

Pepe Paces to Playoff Victory
August 19, 1976

Pepe Fernandez scores in his fourth straight home game, and the Tacoma Tides advance to the second round of the ASL playoffs after eliminating Utah, 2-1, at Cheney Stadium.

1st Washingtonians Taken in NASL Draft
January 14, 1976

For the first time players from Washington are selected in the annual NASL college draft. Ward Forrest (UW) and Kit Zell (SPU) are picked in the second round by Seattle and Portland, respectively. Chris Whitworth (UW) is chosen by Tampa Bay in third round, and Tim Allen (SU) goes to Sounders in fourth.

Finally, UW Wins Own Tourney
October 16, 1976

After five years of frustration, Washington finally wins its own Husky Classic, edging Seattle Pacific, 2-1, in the final. Danny Vaughn – from 30 yards – and Dale Larson score. Midfielder Paul Mendes is voted the tournament MVP.

WSJSA Votes to Join USYSA
February 28, 1976

By a vote of 18-1, Washington State Junior Soccer Association votes to join the U.S. Youth Soccer Association during meetings at president Karl Grosch's home. WSJSA will issue a check for $14,250 for its 29,000 registered players' national dues.

Tides Rush into Action, Win
April 24, 1976

Sixty days after being granted an ASL expansion franchise, the Tacoma Tides open play, winning at Sacramento. They win, 1-0, behind former Sounder Roy Sinclair’s 74th-minute goal on assist from Windsor Del Llano.

Fernandez, Chadwick Propel Tides' Fifth Straight Win
August 6, 1976

Pepe Fernandez scores three goals and David Chadwick assists on each as the Tacoma Tides win their fifth in a row, 3-2, over the Cleveland Cobras at Cheney Stadium. Fernandez Scores in his third straight game to open the scoring in the 42nd minute. Vito Colonna twice ties it for the visitors before Fernandez's winner at 87', lifting Tacoma into a first-place tie with the L.A. Skyhawks with one game remaining.

McAlister Debuts for Sounders
August 13, 1976

Seattle native Jimmy McAlister makes his Sounders debut, starting on the backline at the final regular season game, in Vancouver. At age 19, he is the first Sounders teenager to appear in an NASL match.

Pelé Stars in Dome Opener
April 9, 1976

A record North American soccer crowd of 58,128 watches Pelé score the first goal in the Kingdome's first sporting event and then add another in New York's 3-1 exhibition win over the Sounders. Pelé needs just 2 minutes, 14 seconds to ripple the net, and David Clements makes it 2-nil after six minutes. Jimmy Gabriel's header tightened the score but Pelé scored again in the 88th minute. The attendance broke a 50-year-old record of 46,000, however not all of the new stadium's seats had yet been installed.

Best Resigns Gabriel Succeeds
September 21, 1976

John Best resigns as Sounders head coach after three successful seasons, and Jimmy Gabriel is chosen to succeed him. Gabriel, 36, served as both assistant coach and captain for the club’s first three years. Best, who desires a move into management, had guided Seattle to three winning seasons and two playoff berths.

Player/Coach at Seattle U
September 8, 1976

Steve Allen, a senior forward, is named interim head coach for Seattle University. Allen will fill-in for Hugh McArdle, who is granted a leave of absence. Allen was the Chieftains' most valuable and inspirational as a sophomore. Seattle U. also moves home games from Lower Woodland to nearby Broadway Playfield which has a new Cintrex surface. The team goes 7-7-2.

Tacoma Picks Wood for Coach
March 8, 1976

Dan Wood is named head coach the Tacoma Tides on the same day the new ASL team holds tryouts at Assumption School. Wood had coached at Cornell where he was 52-20-6 and took the Big Red to five NCAA tournaments in as many years.

Spokane Welcomes Sounders
April 2, 1976

Professional soccer arrives in Spokane. The Sounders play San Antonio in a preseason match before 4,400 at Joe Albi Stadium. Pepe Fernandez lashes a free kick from 25 yards but Seattle falls, 2-1.

Sounders Advance in Playoffs
August 18, 1976

Geoff Hurst sends the Sounders to their first playoff win, 1-0 over Vancouver, before 30,406 in the Kingdome. Hurst's goal in the 39th minute comes on a rebound after David Butler's shot can only be parried by Whitecaps keeper Phil Parkes. Sounders rookie Tony Chursky makes six stops.

Tacoma Pro Franchise Approved
February 23, 1976

Booth Gardner and Baseball Club Tacoma are approved as owners for an American Soccer League team after paying a $70,000 franchise fee. The team, later named the Tides, will share Cheney Stadium with the Twins of the Pacific Coast League. Because the Tides did not participate in the college draft, commissioner Bob Cousy will allow 11 foreign players rather than the normal limit of seven.

Falcons Clip Huskies
October 19, 1976

Steve Newman scores both goals as Seattle Pacific earns a 2-1 Sounders Cup win over Washington at Memorial Stadium. Newman, a junior from Newport High School, scores in the 2nd minute and fires home the winner in the 46th for the Falcons. The win atones for a loss to UW three days later.

Seattle Hosts 1st Indoor WC Qualifier
October 20, 1976

Seattle is the scene of the first FIFA World Cup qualifying match played indoors as 17,675 turn out to see the U.S. defeat Canada, 2-0, to remain alive in first-round play. Sounders David D’Errico and Boris Bandov start for the USMNT while Tony Chursky is in goal for the visitors. Julie Veee and 19-year-old Miro Rys score goals. Coach Walter Chyzowych is sent off after entering the field to hug Veee following his goal.

Shorecrest Wins Prep Title
May 29, 1976

Phil Gauglitz’s penalty kick with 37 seconds left in the first half proves the difference as Shorecrest beats Seattle Prep, 1-0, for the state high school championship at Memorial Stadium. Kit Favorite is tripped in the box and, later, a red card forces Shorecrest to play shorthanded for the final 21 minutes. Prep had beaten the Highlanders, 2-1, in the Metro League title game a week earlier. Tacoma’s Stadium defeats Seattle Christian, 3-1, for third place.

NASL: A Different Crowd
October 13, 1976

Demographic studies by NASL marketing show that nearly half of American soccer crowds are female, most fans are in the 18-35 age bracket and many are students. Meanwhile, general managers are discussing problems with televising games, namely inserting commercial advertisements when there are few natural breaks in play. Among the options considered are 15-second spots before goal kicks.

State Cups Decided in Snow
February 29, 1976

A late-spring storm dumps snow on Burien's Highline Stadium turf for the final two cup finals of the Washington State Junior Soccer Association championships. Still, some 2,500 family and fans see the tournament's final match, with U19 Newport Hill Huskies winning a seventh straight boys' title on penalties, 3-3 (6-5), over Lake Hills Sammamish. Federal Way teams, led by the U13 boys Totem Tornado's fourth cup in a row, win five of the 20 finals.

Tacoma Romps Before Big Crowd
July 31, 1976

Brooks Cryder and Windsor Del Llano each score a hat trick as the Tacoma Tides reward a near-capacity crowd of 8,203 with a 9-0 rout of Golden Bay. It's the Tides' fourth win in a row and all but clinches a playoff berth.

Tacoma Welcomes Tides to Cheney
May 5, 1976

A crowd of 3,429 welcomes the Tacoma Tides to Cheney Stadium for their first home ASL match. Bernard Hartze's second goal, in the 67th minute, breaks the tie and beats the New York Apollo, 3-2. Pepe Fernandez, the Sounders fan favorite signed just two days earlier, scores the other Tides goal.

8th Straight Title for Newport Huskies
February 29, 1976

Fred Connor’s Newport Huskies win their eighth consecutive boys’ state championship, 4-3, over Lake Hills in the U18 final at Highline Stadium. Bryan Smallman’s penalty is the decisive goal. Ron Dorn, Steve Moore and Stan Stawhill scored earlier for Newport while Brian Hottinger, David Barry and Ian Keenan answered for Lake Hills. Newport’s 8-year record goes to 145-5-6.

Coed Team Joins State League
September 18, 1976

Sixty teams begin play across eight divisions of the state men's league, however one is unique. Mike Ryan enters his Camp Brotherhood staff team, which is the first genuine coed club in league history. Whereas past teams had one female, several women are included on Ryan's roster in Division 6.

Toronto Crowned Champ in Kingdome
August 28, 1976

Portuguese legend Eusebio connects on a first-half free kick and the unfashionable Toronto Metros-Croatia upset the Minnesota Kicks, 3-0, before 25,765 in Soccer Bowl ’76 at the Kingdome. The game starts at 11:30 a.m. in order to be televised nationally by CBS. The Kicks had won their previous four games by a combined 13-3, including a second-round elimination of the Sounders, 3-0. Toronto, whose ethnic nickname drew the ire of NASL officials, had posted gutty road wins at Chicago and defending champion Tampa Bay.

Brazil Trims Team America
May 28, 1976

Without an absent Pelé and George Best, Team America is no threat to mighty Brazil in a Bicentennial Cup match in the Kingdome. Pelé patriotically declines to face his own country while Best bolted the squad and returned to train with the LA Aztecs. Consequently, the crowd is just 20,245. Brazil, featuring greats Zico, Rivelino and Marinho, wins, 2-0. Seattle's Mike England starts for Team America, a select team of NASL stars. Over 200 media members from Brazil are accredited and the match is televised to an estimated audience of 100 million.

Sounders Host Rangers in First Friendly
May 22, 1976

Seattle Sounders host their first international friendly, falling to Glasgow’s Rangers, 1-0, before 11,356 in the Kingdome. Rangers are coming off the Scottish treble and feature captain John Greig, later voted the club’s greatest all-time player, and winger Tommy McLean. It’s a McLean free kick that finds Alex McDonald for the game’s lone goal in the 73rd minute, a header past Paul Gizzi. Seattle had dominated the second half otherwise.

An individual is more interested in something if he or she has some knowledge about it. We feel these personal appearances are valuable not only for team promotion but also in stimulating the young potential American player toward a possible career in soccer.
John Best, Sounders coach, on the effect of having players circulating in the community
Soccer has really taken off in Seattle the people have gone crazy for it. We hope the films will help keep the fans’ appetite flowing even in the offseason.
Mike England, Sounders star, on why he's hosting Saturday morning English league game films at the Guild 45th and Redmond theaters
Most North American Soccer League teams are not in a financial position yet to make big offers. But we American and Canadian players need assurance that we’ll be taken care of in the offseason. We don’t have the back-to-back advantage of the English leaguers, who can play in North America five months and in the British Isles six months and thus have paydays the year round.
Tony Chursky, Sounders goalkeeper, on need for year-round contracts
The game was not completed due to the fact that the two teams played only 80 minutes instead of the required 90. This occurred because the first half was cut short by 10 minutes due to the failure of the referee to keep correct time. NASL commissioner Phil Woosnam later denied the protest.
San Antonio Thunder's stated grounds for protest of their 1-0 loss to Seattle, when the Kingdome scoreboard clock twice malfunctioned
We would not consider playing a Tacoma team. For one thing, we would not want to polarize the fans. If we don’t play against Tacoma, the fans won’t get mad at us. … We would not object if Tacoma want to play our B team.
Sounders GM Jack Daley responding to a challenge from Tacoma Tides GM Stan Naccarato
Our intention is to build a powerful squad. We will have some big-money players in with youth. We are looking down the road toward an Americanized product.
Stan Naccarato, Tacoma Tides general manager
We feel that Settle is rapidly becoming the soccer capital of North America.
Jack Daley, Sounders GM, after Seattle earns the right to host both Soccer Bowl '76 and a Bicentennial Cup international match
I can't blame the Philadelphia players for what happened to me. When players cannot match you in skill and pace they resort to thuggery. I blame the referees.
Jimmy Robertson, Sounders winger, after suffering a broken leg by foul play
Collegiate Men's Records
Central Washington (club) n/a
Gonzaga (club) n/a
Pacific Lutheran 4-8-1
Puget Sound 5-7-0
Seattle University 7-7-2
Seattle Pacific 14-5-1
Washington 15-2-3
Washington State (club) n/a
Western Washington (club) 0-8-0
Whitman n/a
Collegiate Women's Records
Seattle Pacific (club) 3-1-2
Washington (club) 2-1-3
Western Washington (club) 4-0-2
Professional All-League
Player (Pos) Team (Lg-Tm)
Mike England (D) Sounders (NASL-1st)
David Chadwick (M) Tides (ASL-1st)
Washington State Youth Cup Winners
Age BoysGirls
U9 Lake City Bobcats (SYSA)Dainty Dragons (GRJSA)
U10 Shakey's Sharks (AYSA)Renton Fire Fighters Tigers (GRJSA)
U11 Federal Way Rangatangs (FWSA)Title Realty Devils (AYSA)
U12 Totem Trappers (FWSA)Lakecrest Rhinettes (FWSA)
U13 FW United Tornado (FWSA)Lynnwood PD Cyclones (SSCJSA)
U14 So. Snohomish Bullets (SSCJSA)Sounderettes (TPCJSA)
U15 Carlsen-Wonquist Oilers (SYSA)Nortac Carrera (TPCJSA)
U16 Federal Way Hydros (FWSA)Shorelake Roadrunners (SYSA)
U17 Continental Volvo Blues (SYSA)Midway Dirty Dozen (HAS)
U19 Newport Huskies (EYSA)Newport Hills Bombers (EYSA)
Hurst Official Sounders Debut

VIDEO: Hurst Official Sounders Debut

On this Day in History
November 16, 2001
Seattle University got two goals from Danny Ferris and held off a late threat by Berry College to defeat the fifth-seeded Vikings, 2-1 in the first round of the NAIA national tournament in Bowling Green, Ky. The 12th-seeded Redhawks take the lead after 20 minutes through Ferris working a combination with James Vert and Matt Hulen. Ferris completes his third straight brace with 27 minutes left. Berry pulls a goal back but cannot find the equalizer.
More from 2001 ›
November 9, 1994
Washington makes a smashing NCAA women's tournament debut by blanking No. 15 Oregon State, 3-0, in rainy Corvallis. The No. 18 Huskies get Emily Thompson's record 10th goal just before halftime. Thompson had missed a 1-0 loss to the Beavers three weeks earlier. Melanie Brennan scores in the 58th minute, then Jeanie Rain tacks on another in the 74th.
More from 1994 ›
May 9 ,1994
Major League Soccer representative Bill Sage tours several potential interim sites for a proposed Seattle charter franchise. Local organizers list Memorial Stadium, West Seattle's Sealth Stadium and Husky Stadium as candidates. Memorial Stadium’s 10-year-old turf is being replaced with a $1.6M removable flat panelized surface. The crown will be leveled and soil added to even the surface. The surface will also be widened.
More from 1994 ›
August 19, 1980
South Lakes Soccer Association clear and level land just east of Lake Geneva (park just south of Highway 18), with heavy work handled by battalion of Navy Corps of Engineers – all without a permit to create soccer fields on the vacant, King County-owned 5-acre lot. A stop work order is issued but no charges are filed. Says a county representative: “The soccer people had good intentions. They felt they were benefiting the park by putting in the field. Sure, it would’ve gone slower if they worked hand in hand with us. But it would’ve been done properly.”
More from 1980 ›