David Can’t Beat Goliath

1977 – Around the World and Close to Home

Concorde, the British-French turbojet-powered supersonic passenger airliner, goes into service, cutting transatlantic flight times in half. Elvis Presley, The King of Rock and Roll, dies of a heart attack at 42, Jimmy Carter is elected president, and Atari, the first major home video game console, is released. Locally, the Seattle Aquarium opens to visitors, Major League Baseball returns to the state with the Seattle Mariners, with Washington-based owners, Seattle Slew becomes the 10th horse to win the Triple Crown, and Lenny Wilkens begins his second stint as coach of the Seattle Sonics.

David Can’t Beat Goliath

Three years into professional soccer’s residency, Seattle Sounders went in a new direction under a new leader. Jimmy Gabriel ascends from his assistant role under John Best to become head coach, and Gabriel introduces a Seattleite to the lineup and the world.

While Best had been the face of the Sounders since their inception, Gabriel had effectively been the heart. He started and captained the club the first two years. As coach of the reserve team, Gabriel had also overseen the development of young Americans and local Washingtonians in particular. He believed some of them were ready for first team roles, and 20-year-old left back Jimmy McAlister foremost among them.

McAlister wasn’t the only American in the lineup when Gabriel’s era began at Honolulu versus Team Hawaii. Although NASL rules minimum for on-field North Americans is one, Gabriel starts four. He does it again the next game and the next. Four games in all. Once Mel Machin, Micky Cave and Jocky Scott arrive from Britain by late May, Gabriel regularly plays McAlister and Canadian goalkeeper Tony Chursky.

Before then, it was a rocky road. The Sounders lost six of their first eight outings. Gabriel, who first retired in 1976 and again following that season, called his own number to jump-start the season. At 0-3 and down 2-nil at home to Portland, Gabriel substituted himself, immediately went all-in on a tackle, and his play provided an emotional lift that translated to three goals and a 3-2 comeback victory, his first as a coach.

Overcoming that near-disastrous start, the Sounders catch fire down the stretch and reach Soccer Bowl for the first time. There, despite being huge underdogs to the Cosmos of Pele´, Franz Beckenbauer, Carlos Alberto and Giorgio Chinaglia, Seattle battles and nearly nips the tying goal in the final minutes before falling, 2-1.

Also reaching a national final and finishing runner-up is Seattle Pacific. The Falcons take second for the third time in four years, this time to Alabama A&M, 2-1.

Most of the SPU players hail from in-state, and the Sounders’ Jimmy McAlister becomes an overnight sensation. McAlister, 20, wins a starting job at left back, then is named NASL Rookie of the Year and, soon after, becomes the first Washington native to earn a U.S. National Team cap.

The youth soccer explosion continues unabated, jumping 41 percent, to 46,874. However, there is growing friction between the clubs and high school programs, whose players face conflicts in play and training.

Women’s soccer begins to get sponsorship at the collegiate level. Five years since the Title IX ruling, Whitman College is the first to be granted varsity status. Meanwhile, club programs are initiated at Seattle Pacific, Washington, Washington State and Western Washington.

Year in Review
Season Record
14-12 (14-10-2), 3rd NASL West, NASL runners-up
Jimmy Gabriel (1st year)
Best XI
Mike England, Mel Machin (1st team)
Top Scorer
Micky Cave (12 goals)
State Men's Champion
Ghirardelli d Tacoma Hygrade, 4-3
State Knockout Cup
Mueller Barons d Ghirardelli, 2-2 (penalty kicks)
Men's Collegiate Postseason
Seattle Pacific, D2 runner-up
NCSC Women's Champion
Western Washington
NWAC Men's Champion
Skagit Valley d Edmonds, 1-0
Sounders Cup Winner
Boys Regional Champion
Tacoma Kickers (U16)
WIAA Boys Champion
Bellevue d Edmonds, 3-2 OT
Karl-Heinz Schreiber
Member Associations
46,784 (b: 31,144 g: 12,640)
Largest Attendance
56,256, Kingdome, Sounders v Los Angeles, playoff

1977: David Can’t Beat Goliath

A late-season surge sends Seattle to Soccer Bowl and a meeting with Pele´ and the mighty Cosmos, where they come up just short.

Ord Nets First Hat Trick
July 27, 1977

Tommy Ord scores Sounders’ historic first hat trick in 4-1 win over Connecticut Bicentennials at New Haven’s Yale Bowl. All three goals from less than 6 yards out. Ord had been acquired from Vancouver only eight days earlier.

Falcons Advance to NCAA Final
December 2, 1977

Todd Schilperoort’s goal in the third overtime period gives Seattle Pacific a 2-1 win over Wisconsin-Green Bay in the NCAA semifinal in Miami. Marty Shaw had saved a penalty shortly after Green Bay canceled out Servando Rivera’s opener.

Tides Go Out After One Season
March 16, 1977

Tacoma Tides cease operations after one season of play in the American Soccer League. General manager Stan Naccarato cites losses of $200,000 while averaging 2,873 in attendance at Cheney Stadium in 1976. The Tides made the ASL playoffs and reached the semifinal round after going 10-5-6. Naccarato added that lacking a suitable facility and ASL leadership, ownership could not go forward. Utah and Oakland also fold.

TV Delay, Delay, Delay
July 10, 1977

TVS, which syndicates NASL national telecasts, instructs KIRO 7 to delay broadcast of the Sounders-Cosmos game for one week. Short of a sellout, crowd of 41,720 sees Seattle beat Pele´, Franz Beckenbauer & Co., 1-0. KIRO, which argued for an 11-hour delay, opts not to show week-old replay.

Ryan Leaves UW after 11 Years
April 21, 1977

Mike Ryan resigns as University of Washington head coach after 11 seasons. Ryan cites growing pressures from his primary job and a desire to spend more time with his family. He guided the Huskies to four NCAA tournament berths and four conference championships. The program had seen declining financial support in recent years.

Gabriel Shows the Way
April 30, 1977

Down 2-0 to Portland at home and winless in the first three games, Sounders coach Jimmy Gabriel inserts himself into the game in the second half, sparking a three-goal fight back. Paul Crossley ties it and David Butler scores twice, netting the winner in the 86th minute.

Vaughn is UW Scoring King
November 16, 1977

Dan Vaughn completes his career as Washington’s scoring leader, getting his 16th of the year and 52nd overall to open the 4-1 victory over Seattle University at Husky Stadium.

Tacoma Hosts U16 Tournament
August 19, 1977

Tacoma’s Franklin Pierce Stadium hosts North American Youth Championships for U16 boys. KCPQ airs nine hours of same-day telecasts with Bob Robertson delivering play-by-play. Virginia won the U.S. tournament and Ontario the Canadian. The Tacoma Kickers represent Washington and got four tournament goals from Chris Hellenkamp.

McAlister Earns First Cap
September 15, 1977

Jimmy McAlister becomes the first Washington native to earn a cap for the U.S. National Team. Fresh from being named NASL Rookie of the Year, McAlister, 20, comes on as a substitute in 2-1 win over El Salvador in San Salvador.

O'Malley New Boss on Montlake
July 30, 1977

Mike O’Malley, 27, is named the new University of Washington head coach. O'Malley, who succeeds Mike Ryan, played at Chico State and was assistant coach at UC Davis last season.

Sounders Punch Ticket to Final
August 25, 1977

Seattle gets a 13th-minute header from Jocky Scott, and Adrian Webster marks out L.A. star George Best as the Sounders defeat the Aztecs, 1-0, before a raucous crowd of 56,256 to advance to Soccer Bowl. A potential late equalizer by Des Backos bounces behind goal line but is ruled out. It is the fifth straight win in the playoffs.

UW's Vaughn Finishes Strong
November 16, 1977

Dan Vaughn scores for the 16th time in 17 games as Washington completes a sweep of the Sounders Cup series by beating Seattle University, 4-1, at Memorial Stadium. Vaughn closes his Huskies account with a career record 52 goals in four seasons. The Tacoma senior finishes fast, netting eight his final six outings. Although unbeaten in its final 15 games under new coach Mike O’Malley, UW is denied an NCAA berth. The Huskies did not face an opponent outside the Pacific Northwest.

Homegrown Talent Reaps Reward
August 16, 1977

Seattle native Jimmy McAlister, 20, is voted NASL Rookie of the Year. McAlister, who grew up in West Seattle and attended Kennedy High School, was also named to the NASL all-star third team. “I didn’t come out of college like the No. 1 draft choices. I just came out of high school. Gabriel and Bobby Howe really put me in over my head, but they had confidence in me,” said McAlister.

Skagit Valley Finishes Undefeated
December 2, 1977

Skagit Valley College becomes the first unbeaten NWAACC champion by defeating Edmonds Community College, 1-0, at Memorial Stadium. Mark Kaufman scores in the 50th minute and Mark Thompson earns the shutout for the Cardinal, who go 13-0-3 through the regular season and playoffs.

Newport Girls Go Out Winners
February 19, 1977

Newport Bombers win fifth straight state title, this time as U19 girls, with 6-5 double overtime win (after trailing 5-3 with 2 minutes to go) over Highline Dirty Dozen at Renton Stadium.

Cody Makes Unusual Entrance
March 20, 1977

The Sounders' new play-by-play announcer is Wayne Cody, and his preseason call of Sounders-Aztecs is in Aberdeen, where trap-door entrance to Stewart Field press box is too small to accommodate Cody’s 325-pound girth. Instead, he is lifted through a window via a crane, featuring a basket marked “30-ton limit.”

Seattle Pacific Comeback Falls Short
December 3, 1977

A flurry of eight shots in the final minutes does not produce the game-tying goal, and SPU succumbs to top-ranked Alabama A&M, 2-1, in the NCAA Division II championship game in Miami. The Bulldogs go in front, 2-nil, on deflection and a rebound. Servando Rivera’s penalty in the 82nd minute queued the late rally. Earlier, the Falcons miss a penalty attempt. Scott Chase is named the game’s defensive MVP.

Barons Go the Distance
April 10, 1977

Mueller Barons win the State Challenge Cup over Ghirardelli following an 11-round penalty kick tiebreaker at Memorial Stadium. Ghirardelli erases a 2-0 halftime deficit on goals by Kit Zell and Dave Ellis. Barons had gone ahead through Kelly Gordon and Tim Allen. Ed Tonkin scores the decisive penalty.

David Can't Beat Goliath
August 28, 1977

In the final competitive game for legendary Pele´, the star-studded New York Cosmos defeat the underdog Sounders, 2-1, before a Portland record crowd of 35,548 in Soccer Bowl. Seattle’s tying goal by Tommy Ord is scored while the TVS broadcast is in commercial break. Steve Buttle hits the post with 7 minutes left after earlier equalizing attempts by Mike England and Dave Gillett hit the post and are saved, respectively. “David did not beat Goliath,” writes The Times.

Out of Order in Rochester
July 30, 1977

Three red cards – players on each side as well as the Lancers’ trainer – and eight yellows are issued by referee Henry Landauer in Seattle’s 2-1 loss at Rochester. Dave Gillett, the Sounders’ ejection, needed a security escort past 50 belligerent fans. The game was halted for 10 minutes to restore order after Gillett and the Lancers’ Ibrahim Silva scuffled, before Mel Machin decked Silva. Adrian Webster had been stretchered off with a knee injury beforehand. A total of 55 fouls were whistled.

Falcons Are First to Travel Afar
October 28, 1977

Seattle Pacific becomes the state’s first collegiate program to travel east of the Rockies for a regular season game. The Falcons face Wisconsin-Green Bay at the Wheaton College tournament, near Chicago. They lose, 3-2, but defeat Wheaton (coach Cliff McCrath’s alma mater) the following day, 1-0.

He’s only the greatest player who ever played. I asked him right before the end of the game and he said I could have it. If I ever have any kids I’ll give it to them.
Jimmy McAlister, Sounders homegrown rookie defender on Pele´giving his jersey following his final competitive match
He has good technique. He does everything we ask of him and more. He’s a blue-chip bet.
Jimmy Gabriel, Sounders coach, on his youngest signing, Eddie Krueger
Our fans are a great advantage to us. They’re like magic. But for players like George Best our stadium and our fans lift them a bit. And that can be a disadvantage for us.
Jimmy Gabriel, Sounders coach, about huge crowd expected for NASL semifinal
We have no super names or anything like that. Some of our players are very, very young, and they are going to come through and be tremendous. I just thought we played a better game than they did….We’re sorry. We lost it. But we gave it everything we've got.
Jimmy Gabriel, Sounders coach, after Sounders fall to Cosmos, 2-1
If ever that concrete lid was going to crumble, it would have last night as 56,256 devotees of the Sounders cheered them…On the basis of decibels expended per goals scored, it must have been a world-record din.
Seattle Times columnist Georg Meyers on crowd's effect on Seattle-Los Angeles semifinal
With young children, what you are after is development of ballhandling skills. They don’t play a true team game at this level. They all go for the ball. It’s like advanced kickball. The kids are like a swarm of bees after honey.
Marietta Gruber, on Lynnwood-Edmonds youth clubs implementing 7-a-side games
We're about 30 feet in the air, and the guy running the crane said the only thing I didn't want to hear: 'Uh-oh.' We're caught there for about 25 minutes, swaying in the rain...So we get to the press box and there are no phones. Then this little telephone guy shows up with a pink Princess phone and a green Princess phone. He plugs them in and we call the station and we're on the air – 40 minutes late...I went over to a Chinese restaurant after that game and had a very long conversation about soccer with Jack Daniels and Jim Beam. That was the first soccer game on KIRO.
Wayne Cody describing his entrance to broadcasting soccer, at Aberdeen
New York has got $3 million players and we don’t have anything like that. We’re just down to earth.
Sounders fan after Soccer Bowl loss to Cosmos
“We have eight football teams in Midway and 39 soccer teams. All they need is shoes and a $10 fee for uniforms. Everything else is volunteer.”
Highline area youth coach
Collegiate Men's Records
Central Washington (club) n/a
Gonzaga (club) n/a
Pacific Lutheran 3-10-0
Puget Sound 6-6-0
Seattle University 6-9-2
Seattle Pacific 13-6-3
Washington 14-2-1
Western Washington (club) 1-8-0
Whitman n/a
Collegiate Women's Records
Seattle Pacific (club) 1-11-0
Washington (club) 8-2-2
Washington State (club) 6-3-3
Western Washington (club) 8-2-2
Whitman 3-6-3
Professional All-League
Player (Pos) Team (Lg-Tm)
Mike England (D) Sounders (NASL-1st)
Mel Machin (D) Sounders (NASL-1st)
Washington State Youth Cup Winners
Age BoysGirls
U9 Marmots (LWYSA)Stompers (HAS)
U10 SW United Tigers (FWSA)Dainty Dragons (GRJSA)
U11 Conlins Olympic Aces (HAS)Shorelake Thunderbirds (SYSA)
U12 Totem Titans (FWSA)Lake Hills Cheetahs (EYSA)
U13 Scarff Ford Mustangs (FWSA)Meadowlarks (SSCJSA)
U14 ITI Tornado (FWSA)Fircrest Sweetfoots (TPCJSA)
U15 S&R Construction Bullets (SSCJSA)Sounderettes (TPCJSA)
U16 Lake City Hawks (SYSA)Carrera Nortac (SYSA)
U17 Norpoint Royals (TPCJSA)LeSac Steelers (FWSA)
U19 Continental Volvo Blues (SYSA)Newport Hills Bombers (EYSA)
On this Day in History