Having It All

Seemingly since the dawn of time, Puget Sound lacked the quality and quantity of field space to meet the demand of players, youth and adult. Finally, in 2005, an angel appeared, and his name was Chris Slatt.

A software executive and entrepreneur, Slatt became an angel investor and founder of Starfire Sports, which celebrated its grand opening in Tukwila in April. Festivities featured 96 teams from around the Northwest competing in a tournament on eight outdoor soccer fields, four of them lighted with an artificial surface.

Three years earlier, Slatt, Steve Beck and Mark Bickham approached the City of Tukwila after Fort Dent Park was obtained from King County. Starfire signed a 40-year lease and invested $10 million in developing the campus, including a stadium and fieldhouse (four softball fields are also part of the facility). Through Starfire's investment, taxpayers could be saved $12 million in operation costs over 40 years.

The biggest beneficiary, however, is the soccer community. There are more than 40,000 players in King County, with most wandering from field to field, sometimes town to town, and often sharing fields when they found it.

You just had to make do," said Craig Danielson, president of Highline Premier Soccer. "Running from school to school, there's never any consistency. The Starfire facility has all the amenities to take care of these kids."

"They were very forward-thinking when they designed it," said Dick Mohrmann, president of the Washington State Youth Soccer Association. "It will help with the growing need for fields and give us another place to hold our state tournaments."

Tim Busch, president of the Washington State Soccer Association, said, "It looks like it's going to be a first-class facility. That should lend itself to regional and possibly national tournaments. The new turf will allow much more (usage) than grass fields. Plus, the location is close to the airport."

"The buildings, the fields — it's awesome, unbelievable," said David Herrera, 22, who looked forward to days when his team in La Liga Hispana gets to use the Starfire fields.

The Seattle Sounders' first Starfire date was a U.S. Open Cup game, and nine days later packed the stadium with over 3,200 fans for USL match versus Portland. Later, the Sounders hosted two playoff games due to scheduling conflicts at Qwest Field. In all, they went 3-0-1 at Starfire en route to winning the USL championship.

Slatt took out $14 million in loans and formed partnerships with corporations, government, sports teams and community organizations. Maintaining Starfire will cost more than $500,000 a year, Slatt said. The county was losing $300,000 a year operating the park before.

The complex will earn revenue by advertising on the fields, user fees and corporate partnerships. Adult teams will pay in the range of $95 an hour for the FieldTurf fields, while youth teams will be charged about $60 an hour.

Slatt, a former technology entrepreneur, said his dream for the community came from the way sports helped his own two daughters. "When your kids are young, you hope you might raise the next Mia Hamm," he said. "As they get older, you realize that their success today is directly related to their experience on the soccer team. Understanding teamwork, how to set goals, what you do when you lose."

The Sounders' first championship in nine years (and third overall) resulted from a late-season postseason resurgence. They had won just two of their final 10 regular season games. Opening the playoffs with a Roger Levesque-fueled sweep of arch-rival Portland (3-0, aggregate), fourth-seeded Seattle then upset Montreal on the road in the semifinal second leg, 2-1 (3-2, aggregate).

Richmond, the sixth seed, was the unlikely opponent in the final, to be played at Qwest Field. After falling behind the Kickers early, the Sounders got a tying goal late from Cuban defector Maykel Galindo before prevailing in penalties

Season Record
11-6-11, USL Champion
Brian Schmetzer
Best XI
Taylor Graham
Top Scorer
Roger Levesque (6 goals)
U.S. Open Cup
Seattle Sounders, 3rd round
Sounders Women
5-8-1, 5th W-League West
Spokane Shadow
10-6-0, 2nd PDL NW Div.
Yakima Reds
4-9-3, 3rd PDL NW Div.
Men's Collegiate Postseason
Seattle Pacific, D2 2nd rnd, Whitworth, D3, Semi
Women's Collegiate Postseason
Gonzaga, D1 1st rnd, Seattle Pacific, D2, finalist, Puget Sound, D3, Quarter
Men's Conference Champions
Seattle University, GNAC Whitworth, NWC
Women's Conference Champions
Seattle Pacific, GNAC Puget Sound, NWC
NWAC Men's Champion
Wenatchee Valley d Walla Walla, 2-0
NWAC Women's Champion
Clackamas d Walla Walla, 2-1 OT
WIAA Boys Champion
4A-Thomas Jefferson, 3A-Shorecrest, 2A-Wahluke, 1A-University Prep
WIAA Girls Champion
4A-Tahoma, 3A-Camas, 2A-Eatonville, 1A-Seattle Academy
Wain Jackson
Member Associations
121,598 (87,550 boys 34,048 girls)
Largest Attendance
15,831, USMNT v Cuba, Qwest Field

2005: Having It All

Applause all-around as a world-class facility and a championship come to Puget Sound.

Keller Backstops US Win
July 9, 2005

Kasey Keller earns the shutout as 15,109 see the USMNT struggle to put away Canada, 2-0, in gold Cup Group B play at Qwest Field. Canada gifted the U.S. an own goal early in the second half, and Landon Donovan added a header in added time. Keller, playing his first competitive game in Seattle, was rarely tested. The win assured the USMNT of advancing to the quarterfinals. Bruce Arena used 22 of his 23 players in the two Seattle games.

Timbers Oust Sounders from USOC
July 12, 2005

Seattle drops a 2-0 decision to the Timbers in Portland in third round of the U.S. Open Cup. "It's a $30-, $40- or $50-thousand loss for us," says Bart Wiley, Sounders assistant general manager. "It's very disappointing, especially after we just thumped them."

Sounders Go Distance to Win Title
October 1, 2005

In his 262nd (some 80 more than next) and final game, Scott Jenkins strikes the deciding penalty kick in seventh round of the USL 1 Championship Game, giving the Seattle Sounders the title over the Richmond Kickers (1-1, 4-3) before 8,011 at Qwest Field. Preston Burpo's six saves in regular play to earn game MVP. Cuban defector Maykel Galindo sent the game into extra time with his 73rd minute equalizer, his first goal for Seattle. It was also the final game for retiring assistant coach Jimmy Gabriel.

All Nations Cup Grows at Starfire
July 31, 2005

The third annual All Nations Cup final is won by the United States, 1-0, in double overtime against Brazil at Starfire. Organized by Sister Communities, participation has nearly triple since the first year, to 33 teams made up of Northwest athletes representing their native countries.

Robinswood to Add Turf
April 19, 2005

A plan by Eastside FC to install artificial turf at Bellevue's Robinswood Park by increasing user fees receives support from the city. Bellevue's City Council approves funding for an engineering plan to get the project going, with a target completion of 2007.

Supporters Group Forms
April 30, 2005

A small group of Sounders fans organizes in Seahawks Stadium's Section 113, adjacent to the players' entrance tunnel. They call beat a drum, sing, wave flags and call themselves the Emerald City Supporters. Approximately two dozen members make the first bus trip to Portland.

New Premiership Side Visits Qwest
July 20, 2005

Mick McCarthy's Sunderland, bound for England's Premiership after handily winning the Championship, visits Qwest Field for a friendly with the Sounders. A season-high crowd of 8,502 sees the Black Cats score late to win, 1-0.

WA Sends 2 to U17 World Cup
September 9, 2005

Nik Besagno of Maple Valley and Preston Zimmerman of Pasco are named to the U.S. National Team roster for the FIFA U17 World Championship in Peru. Zimmerman, who plays for Crossfire Premier while Besagno, now with Real Salt Lake, played in two games and Zimmerman started all four as the Americans advanced to the quarterfinals.

Hibernian Saints Win U.S. Amateur
August 7, 2005

Goals from Ian Chursky and Cam Weaver propel Seattle's Hibernian & Caledonian Saints to victory in the U.S. Amateur Cup final in Dallas. Jimmy McAlister's Hibs & Caley hold off Baltimore Allied, 2-1, to become the third Washington side to win the competition.

CONCACAF Coming to Qwest Field
January 25, 2005

The CONCACAF Gold Cup will hold first-round group play at Qwest Field, with doubleheaders to be played on a grass surface July 7 and 9. The teams and pairings are to be determined in March.

Longview Player Aids Pilots Title
December 4, 2004

Longview's Lisa Sari starts all 25 games in holding midfield for Portland, including the NCAA Division I final, a 4-0 triumph over UCLA. It was the Pilots' second College Cup championship in four seasons. Sari previously played for Tacoma's FC Royals and Mark Morris High School. Joining her on the UP squad is Gold Bar's Katie Brown.

Grow Beyond Sixty Acres
October 28, 2005

A land swap involving King County, Lake Washington Technical College and Lake Washington Youth Soccer results in 35-acre Sixty Acres Park South transformed into eight new soccer fields in Redmond. Sixty Acres North already features 17 fields.

Raney, Soriano Inducted to HoF
February 4, 2005

Bruce Raney and Sergio Soriano, the goalscorer and goal stopper of Seattle Pacific's first NCAA championship team are inducted into the Falcon Legends Hall of Fame.

Keller is U.S. Player of the Year Again
December 22, 2005

Kasey Keller is named U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year for an unprecedented third time after posting nine shutouts, including five in the final round of World Cup qualifying. Earlier in the month Keller picked up his second Honda Player of the Year.

Hahnemann Returns, To U.S and Home
July 7, 2005

A less experienced side featuring Bellevue's Marcus Hahnemann in his first appearance for the USMNT in nine years, beats Cuba, 4-1, in its Gold Cup opener before 15,831 at Qwest Field. Cuba went ahead in the 18th minute. Clint Dempsey scores shortly before halftime. Landon Donovan comes on as a substitute to put the U.S. in front on an 87th minute free kick. Costa Rica defeats Canada 1-0 in the other half of the doubleheader.

SPU Women Reach Final
December 3, 2005

Seattle Pacific's dream season is shattered suddenly 3 minutes into overtime of the NCAA Division II women's championship game by Nebraska-Omaha, 2-1, in Wichita Falls, Tex. Megan Lienhard's 8th minute goal staked SPU to the lead, albeit briefly, as UNO tied it two minutes later. Featuring 13in-state players, the Falcons, unbeaten until the final, came from behind to edge Carson-Newman, 3-2, in the semifinal on Carolyn Nason's header from a corner. SPU finished 20-1-4 in just its fifth season of existence. Shannon Lovejoy nominated for Sports Star of the Year.

Sounders Make Most of Moves
July 8, 2005

After drawing overflow crowd of 3,204 for 4-2 win over Portland, Seattle Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer says he will consider moving future matches to Tukwila to create more intimacy. Starfire CEO Chris Slatt said he would love to discuss the possibility of becoming the home stadium of the Sounders, who were forced to change venues because of conflicting Gold Cup games at Qwest Field.

Whitman Inducts Thompson
May 7, 2005

Tina Thompson (Farley) of Seattle, an all-district midfielder and championship skier, is inducted into Whitman University's Hall of Fame. Thompson, after scoring 17 goals as a sophomore, capped her soccer career by leading Whitman to its first-ever berth in the NAIA West Coast Regionals in 1990. She was the 1991 Whitman Female Athlete of the Year.

Besagno to Zimmerman for the Win
September 17, 2005

Preston Zimmerman of Pasco scores the late winner as the U.S. opens its U17 World Championships by beating North Korea, 3-2, in Chiclayo, Peru. Fellow Washingtonian Nik Besagno's pass enables Zimmerman to turn and score from six yards following a corner kick in the 72nd minute.

Solo Blanks Germany in Algarve Final
March 15, 2005

Hope Solo keeps a clean sheet versus Germany as the USWNT wins the Algarve Cup, 1-0, in Faro, Portugal. Solo, 23 and playing for Olympique Lyonnais, makes two saves and does not allow a goal in her three tournament starts. She goes on to start seven games altogether in 2005, all shutouts.

Heath, John State Players of Year
February 17, 2005

Hillary Heath of Garfield and George John of Shorewood are named Washington's Gatorade Soccer Players of the Year. Heath scored 36 goals and 16 assists in her career at Seattle's Garfield High and was KingCo 4A co-MVP and all-state. She will attend Stanford. John scored 14 goals and had 10 assists for the Thunderbirds last spring, earning All-WesCo South honors for the second straight year. He has committed to Washington.

Fort Dent Becomes Starfire Sports
April 23, 2005

A longtime park is transformed into a much-need 54-acre state-of-the art athletic facility celebrates its grand opening as Starfire Sports. On its first official weekend, 96 soccer teams and 62 softball teams from around the Pacific Northwest compete in tournaments at the $14 million complex. Local officials, including King County Executive Ron Sims and Tukwila Mayor Steve Mullet, turn out for a ribbon-cutting ceremony. known historically as Tukwila's Fort Dent Park, Starfire is the largest artificial-surface soccer complex in the U.S, and altogether it features eight fields plus four softball diamonds. An 80,000-square-foot indoor athletic center also holds the two indoor soccer fields. CEO Chris Slatt envisions Starfire, a non-profit organization, being open to people of all backgrounds and abilities, supporting free programs for underprivileged kids. Some training programs are conducted by coaches sent from Manchester United.

Cuban Defects During Gold Cup
July 9, 2005

A member of the Cuba National Team, later named as Maykel Galindo, defects during his team's stay in Seattle for the Gold Cup. The player got on an evening bus in North Seattle. The driver, despite a language barrier, realized the man had an immigration issue and contacted Seattle police. A Spanish-speaking officer confirmed Galindo was indeed asking for asylum.

Hahnemann Stones Guatemala
September 7, 2005

Marcus Hahnemann makes his World Cup Qualifer debut by posting a road shutout, 0-0, for the USMNT at Guatemala City. Hahnemann stops five shots, none bigger than a diving left-handed swat of a Guatemala effort in the 71st minute.

Hahnemann, Keller Lift Gold Cup
July 24, 2005

Kasey Keller makes a point-blank save in extra time and another in the penalty-kick tiebreaker, enabling the USMNT to win its third Gold Cup over Panama (0-0 3-1) in the East Rutherford, N.J. In all, Keller made five saves to earn the clean sheet.

Vancouver Native Debuts for USWNT
July 10, 2005

Vancouver, Washington's Tina Frimpong Ellertson makes her first appearance for the USWNT in Portland versus Ukraine (7:0). Ellertson is a recent University of Washington graduate now playing forward for the Sounders Women.

Western Honors French
November 5, 2005

Paula French of Tacoma is inducted into Western Washington's Hall of Fame after scoring 19 goals and going 49-5-5 during her career (1982-85). French also played for Cozars, a regional and national power amateur club.

Besagno Named Nation's Top Player
May 16, 2005

Nik Besagno is named Parade Magazine High School Player of the Year. Besagno will graduate from Edison Academy in Florida in a few days. Earlier he attended Kennedy High in Burien.

Galindo Joins Sounders
September 9, 2005

Cuban defector Maykel Galindo, 24, is cleared to play for the Sounders by U.S. Soccer and starts In the final regular season game versus Montreal (1-0). Galindo, who's been in training for several weeks since his defection July 7, plays 67 minutes.

Sounders Run Reaches 10 Games
July 2, 2005

Welton ignites a three-goal second half as the Seattle Sounders come back to beat Minnesota 3-1 away & extend their unbeaten run to 10 games (7-0-3) in league and 11 in all competitions.

Maple Valley's Besagno Goes No. 1
January 14, 2005

Nikolas Besagno of Maple Valley, is taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft by expansion franchise Real Salt Lake. Besagno was chosen by RSL coach John Ellinger, who earlier had coached him at the U.S. U17 Youth Residency program in Florida. Just two months past his 16th birthday, Besagno is the second-youngest player ever drafted by MLS. Earlier the midfielder attended Kennedy High School and played for F.C. United. His brother Jacob was a member of the Seattle University team that won the 2004 NCAA Division II championship. Washington's C.J. Klaas, a two-time All-American, was chosen 32nd overall by San Jose, and Tim Merritt, a graduate of Tacoma's Bellarmine Prep, was 48th overall to D.C. United.

4 Adult Teams Earn National Titles
June 26, 2005

Four adult teams from Washington win Veterans Cup crowns in Wilmington, N.C. Northwest Connection in the Women's Over-40 division, Who Cares in Women's Over-55, Tri-Alliance in Men's Over-30 and Forza in Women's Over-30.

In the world of local soccer, matches like this might be as good as it ever gets. Is Seattle a soccer town?
Ron Judd, Seattle Times columnist, following a turnout of 15,831 for Gold Cup matches on July 7
Every single game in this tournament Kasey Keller made a big play for us. He has shown his quality the whole time.
Glenn Myernick, USMNT acting head coach, after winning the Gold Cup
The idea was to bring different people together to get people to understand each other better. Our mission is to foster relationships between different communities, and soccer is a great way to do that.
Jessica Breznau, executive director of Sister Communities, regarding the All Nations Cup
Ever since I was about 10 and realized there was a professional league, this has been my dream.
Nikolas Besagno of Maple Valley, after being chosen No. 1 overall in the MLS SuperDraft
Somebody reminded me afterward that my last touch of a ball is a winning goal, and that's pretty cool. It's storybook. How can you beat going out like this?
Scott Jenkins, who retires from the Seattle Sounders following the USL Championship Game win
It's phenomenal. This is the culmination of a lot of hard work, vision and risk taking.
Chris Slatt, Starfire Sports CEO, on grad opening of facility
If anybody wants to have a game for about 2,000 or 3,000 people, we'd like to talk to them about it. I think it's the best place in town for that size of crowd.
Chris Slatt, Starfire Sports CEO
It's phenomenal. This is the culmination of a lot of hard work, vision and risk taking.
Chris Slatt, Starfire Sports CEO, upon opening the new $14M complex
On this Day in History