If We Build It, They Will Come

Professional football and soccer, soccer and football, have been intertwined since the Sounders first launched in 1974. And in 1997 the two sports that share and oblong box for a field united to find a way to ensure their future.

Major League Soccer had bypassed Seattle when issuing charter franchises for 1996 due to a lack of a proper stadium. When Ken Behring began packing up the Seahawks for a move to Southern California in early 1997, that, too, was rooted in the argument that the Kingdome was no longer suitable.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen stepped in, offering to buy the Hawks and keep them in Seattle. However, Allen had one condition: a new $425M stadium and a request that the public pay for the first $300M. It was a hard sell.

As it turns out, the soccer community came to the rescue. In the closely-contested statewide vote on Referendum 48, the victory was delivered by the soccer vote. Two months after polls showed the measure lagging at 43 percent, it won with 51 percent. The turning point, many say, was when soccer leaders got involved in the campaign.

MLS Commissioner Doug Logan says, "I'm sure they (the soccer vote) accounted for more than 1 percent."

"The suburbs supported this by a huge margin," adds Alan Rothenberg, U.S. Soccer president. "I have a feeling that's all the soccer people, the grassroots folks."

Because of the vote, the Seahawks’ future would be in Seattle, and once the stadium is complete in 2002, big time soccer was sure to follow.

Other fields of dreams were also realized this year. On the east side of the state, Spokane’s Plantes Ferry Park, a former tree plantation, is set to become a 70-acre new youth sports complex of 14 soccer fields, 4 softball and picnic area. The $1.5 million sports complex project is a joint venture between the Spokane Valley Junior Soccer Association and Spokane County Parks.

In Seattle, both the University of Washington and Seattle Pacific open long-awaited home venues less than a week apart. Husky Soccer Stadium finally gives the UW men and women a field with proper capacity and locker rooms within the Montlake athletic complex. Less than a mile from the SPU campus, $3.3M Interbay Stadium, a dedicated soccer facility, is the result of a partnership between the university and city.

The professional front is once more fraught with highs and significant lows. Ten years after the indoor Tacoma Stars came with minutes of winning a championship, the Seattle SeaDogs finish the job. The SeaDogs sweep their six playoff games and won 27 of 35 games overall to take the CISL title. But two months later, the CISL disbands.

Outdoors, the Sounders get their first taste of international competition. By virtue of the 1996 A-League championship, Seattle qualifies for the CONCACAF Champions Cup. Following an encouraging start, they are promptly humbled by much stronger Mexican clubs, suffering a record defeat.

Year in Review
SEATTLE SOUNDERS
18-10 (16-7-5), 2nd Pacific 2nd round
Coach
Neil Megson (2nd year)
Best XI
Dusty Hudock, Mark Watson
Top Scorer
Mike Gailey (10 goals)
Season Record
21-7, 1st Western Div., Champion
Coach
Fernando Clavijo (3rd year)
All-League
Juan De La O, John Olu Molomo
Top Scorer
John Olu Molomo (33g)
Men's Collegiate Champions
Seattle University, NAIA
Men's Collegiate Postseason
Washington, D1 2nd round Seattle Pacific, D2 quarterfinal Seattle University, NAIA champion
Men's Conference Champions
Gonzaga, WCC Seattle University, NCIC
NWAC Men's Champion
Clark d Edmonds, 2-0
NWAC Women's Champion
Tacoma d Spokane, 2-1
Girls Regional Champion
Highline Eagles 81 (U15), FC Royals (U16)
WIAA Boys Champion
4A-Eastlake, 3A-Kennedy, 1A-Lynden Christian
WIAA Girls Champion
4A-Snohomish, 3A-Mount Vernon, 2A-Riverside, 1A-Seattle Christian
President
Jim Hughes
Member Associations
39
Players
115,995 (b: 83,516/g: 32,479)
Largest Attendance
8,018, KeyArena, Seattle v Houston, Game 1 championship (10/18)

1997: If We Build It, They Will Come

For those dreaming of Major League Soccer and international matches coming to Seattle, it was time to vote. Indoors, that elusive championship was finally realized.

Mount Vernon Ends Lakeside Run
November 22, 1997

Mount Vernon upsets previously perfect Lakeside, 1-0, for girls 3A crown at Federal Way. It is the Bulldogs’ (22-1-0) first state title and 22nd straight win. Junior midfielder Ali Skjei scores in the 56th minute. Lakeside had been unbeaten in 48 and two-time defending champs.

Keller Named U.S. Soccer's Best
October 28, 1997

Kasey Keller is named US Soccer Athlete of the Year. His club, Leicester City, wins the League Cup and finishes ninth in the Premier League table after being promoted. Keller also posts three shutouts and two wins during World Cup qualifying.

French Meets English in Portland
May 11, 1997

Michelle French, 20 and a sophomore at Portland, earns her first U.S. National Team cap vs. England (6:0) on her collegiate home, Merlo Field.

Baumgardt Returns to USWNT
March 3, 1997

Justi Baumgardt, 21 and a senior-to-be at Portland, comes off the bench to score in the U.S. National Team’s 3-1 win over Australia in Bathurst. It’s the first international goal for Baumgardt, who three days earlier returned to the team after a four-year absence.

Sounders Crushed in CONCACAF Exit
July 20, 1997

A reduced-strength Sounders go out of the CONCACAF Champions Cup ignominiously with a 11-0 beating by Cruz Azul in Guatemala City. Seattle, which left its coach Neil Megson and five other top players at home or sent to the A-League All-Star Game, had earlier lost 2-0 to Comunicaciones and 4-1 to Necaxa.

SPU Finally Has a Home: Interbay
September 6, 1997

Seattle Pacific hosts the inaugural match at Interbay Stadium, defeating Sonoma State, 3-2. The Falcons’ Vadim Tolstolutsky scores the stadium’s first goal in 9th minute. Geoff Martin and Dana Garner get goals.

SeaDogs Clinch West
September 13, 1997

Jean Harbor’s hat trick helps Seattle beat Arizona on the road, 6-5, to clinch the CISL Western Division with four games remaining in the regular season.

Eastlake Goes Undefeated, Repeats
May 31, 1997

Third-ranked nationally, Eastlake boys complete a second straight season undefeated (17-0-0) by beating Ferris, 1-0, for the Class AAA championship. The Wolves outscored opponents 83-4 and feature three youth national team players (Nick Downing, Mike Casale, Matt Flynn).

Kinoshita Breaks New Ground
April 26, 1997

Kei Kinoshita comes on as Sounders first-half substitute vs. Colorado, becoming first Japanese player to play professionally for a U.S. team. Kinoshita, 25, had played for Vissel Kobe of the J League.

Distinctly WA flavor to Dallas v Colorado
April 20, 1997

Marcus Hahnemann debuts for the Colorado Rapids at Dallas. Five WA natives play in Dallas-Colorado game at Cotton Bowl. Wade Webber starts, and Peter Hattrup is a substitute for the Burn while Chris Henderson starts, brother Sean Henderson plays a half and Marcus Hahnemann makes his debut for the Rapids.

She Kicks, She Scores – in Football
October 18, 1997

Richland's Liz Heaston, a junior and defender on Willamette's soccer team, accepts an invitation to join the Bearcats' football team as a placekicker. After playing a soccer game, she changes uniforms and minutes later converts the first of two extra points to become the first female to score in a college football game, before an overflow crowd vs. Linfield.

Olu Molomo Sweeps Pride
October 5, 1997

John Olu Molomo’s hat trick enables Seattle sweep of Portland, 6-5. Dick McCormick ties it in the fourth quarter and 54 seconds later Olu Molomo beats two defenders to win it. The SeaDogs won the opener in Portland, 8-2.

Boyce Can't Stop Scoring
October 5, 1997

Jason Boyce notches his second hat trick in three games for No. 8 Washington in a 3-0 victory over Santa Clara. Boyce had four goals vs. Evansville one week earlier.

Paid Coaches in Tacoma
March 8, 1997

Nortac Junior Soccer Club begins bringing in former professional players such as Gary Heale, Tony Chursky, Mark Peterson and Tony Crudo as paid coaches. The concept causes a break between Nortac and the Tacoma-Pierce County Soccer Association.

Sounders Streak Reaches Six
July 4, 1997

Geoff Aunger strikes 2 minutes into overtime as Sounders rally late to tie and beat Milwaukee, 2-1, for their sixth straight win.

Zags Beats Pilots, Share WCC Title
November 7, 1997

Gonzaga beats Portland for only the second time, 2-1 on goals by Mike Thompson and Jason Kuska, to clinch a share of its first West Coast Conference championship. Jeff McAllister (19 goals) is voted WCC player of the year. However, the 19th-ranked Bulldogs are bypassed for an NCAA tournament berth.

Husky Soccer Stadium Opens
September 1, 1997

Husky Soccer Stadium opens with the Washington women losing to Portland, 5-0. Two Washingtonians factored in the No. 3-ranked Pilots’ romp. Wynne McIntosh of Seattle and Roosevelt High, scores twice on assists from Federal Way’s Justi Baumgardt.

Chieftains Earn 1st Trip to Nationals
November 15, 1997

George Czarnowski scores the tying goal with 1:40 left and Arne Klubberud gets the game-winner seven minutes into overtime as Seattle University seals its first trip to a national tournament with a 3-2 win over Simon Fraser in Salem, Ore. The Chieftains are unbeaten in 23 games and, at 22-1-1, own the nation’s best record.

CISL Disbands, Leaving SeaDogs Adrift
December 23, 1997

Three teams leave the CISL, forcing the league to fold and leaving the champion SeaDogs’s future uncertain. Seattle was coming off not only a championship but increased attendance and merchandise sales.

SeaDogs Bolt Out of the Gate
July 11, 1997

SeaDogs reel off 7th straight win to open their third CISL season, 4-2 over Anaheim. Tom Bialek, Bruce Broughton, Jason Dunn and Seth Spidahl score for Seattle.

Harbor is CISL All-Star MVP
July 29, 1997

Jean Harbor of the SeaDogs scores 2 first-quarter goals and adds an assist to earn MVP honors while leading the West to a 6-5 win in the CISL All-Star game at Sacramento. Fernando Clavijo of West-leading Seattle is the winning coach. Dick McCormick, John Olu Molomo and Juan de la O also represent the SeaDogs.

Hahnemann, Hendersons in MLC Cup
October 26, 1997

Marcus Hahnemann starts and makes six saves for Colorado in MLS Cup final, a 2-1 loss to D.C. United. Brothers Chris and Sean Henderson also start for the Rapids.

Enneking Jump-Starts Career
April 12, 1997

Mike Enneking, 36, restarts his pro career after 10 years, joining the Sounders and coming off the bench vs. Vancouver. He last played semipro for the Seattle Storm in 1987 and professionally for the Tacoma Stars in 1985. Enneking had set state scoring records at Bellarmine in 1980 and graduated from Washington as career total points leader in 1983.

Referendum 48 Submitted to Voters
April 28, 1997

Referendum Bill 48, requesting $300M in public funding for a football and soccer stadium on the site of the Kingdome, is set for a June 17 statewide vote. If successful, Paul Allen will buy the Seahawks and contribute the balance toward the $425M stadium featuring natural grass surface. Independent polling indicates the referendum has support of only 43 percent of voters.

SeaDogs Come Back, get Ahead
October 18, 1997

SeaDogs come from behind and win opening game of CISL Championship series, 6-5 in overtime, over Houston Hotshots on John Olu Molomo second-chance goal before 8,018 in KeyArena. After Houston went ahead 4-1 in the fourth quarter, Bill Crook, Gaston Pernia and Jean Harbor tie it up.

Highline's Mother-Daughter Combination
October 30, 1997

Highline Community College women’s team features a mother-daughter combination on the roster. 48-year-old Jean Wilcoxen is a freshman sweeper and mother to two of her teammates, Tracy and Farah Wilcoxen. HCC coach Shari Anderson claims Jean is one of the fastest players on the team if not the league. She has been playing since age 24. "I love playing soccer with my mother," says Farah. "It's an experience I will never forget."

Akers Voted Star of the Year
January 21, 1997

Michelle Akers, after leading the USWNT to a historic gold medal in the first Olympic tournament for women, is voted Sports Star of the Year by a wide margin. She becomes only the second soccer winner and first female. Cliff McCrath won in 1986.

BigFoot on the Move
March 11, 1997

After two seasons the Everett BigFoot move to south to become Puget Sound BigFoot, playing PDL home games in West Seattle and Bellevue.

Sounders Split Shootouts
September 14, 1997

Sounders split tiebreaker shootouts with Vancouver 86ers, first prevailing (0-0, 1-0) to force a mini game, then succumbing (1-1, 3-1) to end their season in the second round of the playoffs. It ends Seattle's two-year reign as A-League champion.

Interbay Groundbreaking
May 16, 1997

Seattle Pacific and Seattle Parks break ground on $3.3 million, 900-seat Interbay Stadium. SPU pays for the construction and annual maintenance for 25 years and receives priority in scheduling games and training. The playing surface is a hybrid SportGrass.

SeaDogs Win CISL Championship
October 19, 1997

Dick McCormick and Jean Harbor score two goals apiece and Seattle wins, 7-1, at Houston to sweep the CISL Championship series. The SeaDogs finish the playoffs 6-0 and 27-7 overall in their third season.

Soccer Vote Pushes Stadium to Reality
June 17, 1997

Soccer community makes difference in statewide Referendum 48 passing for new Seattle football and soccer stadium. The public will fund $300M with Paul Allen to cover the balance for the estimated $425M. Allen will also purchase the Seattle Seahawks from Ken Behring. The election was decided by 36,535 votes, (819,305-782,770), which is 51 percent to 49 percent.

Seattle U Wins NAIA Crown in OT
November 29, 1997

Seattle University wins its first national championship, beating Rockhurst (Mo.), 2-1, on George Czarnowski’s 20-yard shot 17 minutes into overtime. Kurt Swanson opened the scoring for Seattle U in the 7th minute, and Jason Palmer made 11 saves. The Chieftains finish 25-1-2.

Vancouver Arena Maxing Out
February 16, 1997

Vancouver Indoor Sports Arena, doubling its number of players after one full season, is up to 190 teams with a waiting list and operating from 6 a.m. to past midnight on weekends.

Huskies Beat Stanford, Move On
November 24, 1997

Morgan McCoy’s goal in the 3rd minute of overtime lifts Washington into the second round of the NCAA tournament with a 2-1 home win over Stanford. Jason Boyce had staked the Huskies to a 1-0 lead.

SPU Shocks D1 Portland
October 8, 1997

A Dana Garner first-half hat trick helps SPU upset 19th-ranked Portland, 4-3, in the rain at Interbay. After the Pilots rallied to tie, Greg Brisbon’s second-half header is the game-winner for the Falcons, 20th in Div. II.

I would say our most extraordinary achievements have come from ordinary guys that we somehow kept from being ordinary. Once you get a field like we've got, we're no longer ordinary.'
Cliff McCrath, SPU coach, after his program finally has a home field (Interbay) after 29 years.
We had a year where we had to come from behind. We had to battle. To win back-to-back games (here) is a compliment to the character, fitness and hard work of this team.
Peter Fewing, whose Seattle U. squad came from behind in the semifinal and went on to win the NAIA championship
Most of the people I talked to were from Seattle. Some were from all over Washington, even Idaho. It was not just a Portland crowd.
Mason County resident among more than 27,000 who attended World Cup qualifier between U.S. and Costa Rica in Portland.
This is a soccer hotbed, and that's known throughout the country. As far as I'm concerned, there is no doubt soccer has arrived in the U.S. This will be Seattle's chance (the building of a new stadium) or it will get passed by.
Issaquah native Shawn Medved, a former Sounder now with the MLS San Jose Clash
Why limit myself now when I enjoy doing other things? It doesn't seem fair.
UW recruit Theresa Wagner after finishing with 120 career goals and two state titles at Lakeside – plus being a standout in basketball and tennis.
It's a miracle I got through those Olympics. I wasn't the best player in the world, but I was a force the other teams had to respect.
Michelle Akers when accepting Seattle Sports Star of the Year. She had played the 1996 Olympics on a knee requiring reconstructive surgery.
I would pray he would drop some crumbs from his table in our direction.
Seattle Pacific coach Cliff McCrath, hopeful that Paul Allen will reward soccer community support of referendum by buying an MLS club.
You have our assurances that Major League Soccer will be here if a stadium is built. We would be here right now if we had a place to play.
Doug Logan, MLS Commissioner, four weeks before stadium referendum goes to a statewide vote.
Once the stadium is built in Seattle, it could make a big difference. It's being built with soccer in mind. You'd be amazed at how many good stadiums there are that are just too narrow for soccer.
U.S. Soccer spokesman Jim Moorhouse
I loved the Sounders and winning two straight championships with guys I've known and played with forever. But it's just time for me to move on to the next level.
Marcus Hahnemann, 24, after being sold by the Sounders to Colorado Rapids. As part of the deal, Seattle will get 50 percent of any transfer abroad.
Marisa was much more than just a great soccer player. She was incredibly strong, tough, hard-nosed and a great leader. All of the younger players looked up to her.
FC Royals coach Brian VanBlommestein says of Marisa Lyons, his former player who died suddenly at age 20.
On this Day in History