MLS, Here We Come

Twice denied a promotion to the top flight, Seattle finds the perfect combination to seize a Major League Soccer franchise the third time around. With a robust, multi-faceted ownership group is connected with stadium which always had soccer in mind and an organization with savvy to pull all the right levers. Within hours it’s apparent this cocktail is proving irresistible to long suffering fans.

Nine months after awakening to the notion he must invest in MLS, Hollywood producer Joe Roth stands before an audience as majority owner of the league’s 15th team. On November 13, he is joined by Adrian Hanauer, owner of the USL Sounders, and Tod Leiweke, chief executive of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s sports empire, most notably featuring the NFL Seahawks and First and Goal, which operates Qwest Field. Rounding out the group is comedian and game show host Drew Carey, introduces the concept of fans empowered to vote out an underperforming GM.

The announcement at the top of Seattle’s tallest building, the Columbia Center, is done on a cool, crisp autumn day with an unobstructed view into Qwest Field, which will be tailored to the sport at hand. It is a stadium that came into being via a referendum where the state’s soccer community made all the difference.

It has been 24 years since Seattle was associated with America’s highest level of professional soccer. A bid to become an MLS charter member in 1994 was denied for lack of a suitable stadium. In 2005, a second run, for an expansion side, came up short. This time, all the pieces are in place: Allen’s Seahawks give the new club a top-class sports organization on Day One. Roth has a lofty vision for what the team and league can soon become, and Hanauer brings history of steadfast local involvement in the game.

The yet-to-be-named team, the first in the Pacific Northwest, will begin play in 2009. The queue for seats starts immediately. In the first 24 hours following the announcement come 3,000 season ticket deposits. After one week, the demand rises to 6,500, then 10,000 after a month.

The MLS announcement comes after months of buzz. Rumors of various potential owners circling the area come forth just as the Sounders season is gaining momentum. The USL team climbs the table while simultaneously blazing a path toward the U.S. Open Cup. Arch-rival Portland is vanquished, then MLS sides Chivas USA and Colorado, setting up a semifinal meeting with FC Dallas that’s decided in extra time. While the Sounders are eliminated, 2-1, they respond in strength.

Seattle wins six of its final seven matches in regular season and playoffs, culminating in a convincing conquest in the USL championship game, 4-0 over Atlanta. Despite the rain, record crowd of nearly 5,000 at Starfire is in a celebratory mood from the outset, joyously marking the of the triumphant close of one era while beginning another.

Year in Review
16-6-6 1st overall, USL champion
Brian Schmetzer (6th year)
Best XI
Sebastien Le Toux (MVP)
Top Scorer
Sebastien Le Toux (10 goals)
U.S. Open Cup
Seattle Sounders, semifinal
Sounders Women
7-4-1, 2nd West 3rd place W-League
Spokane Spiders
6-10,0, 5th NW Div. PDL
Tacoma Tide
10-4-2, 2nd NW Div., PDL 1st rnd
Yakima Reds
3-10-3, 6th NW Div. PDL
Men's Collegiate Postseason
Washington, D1 2nd rnd Gonzaga, NCAA D1 1st round NCAA D2 1st round Gonzaga, D1 1st rnd Seattle University, D2 1st rnd Whitworth, D3, 3rd rnd
Women's Collegiate Postseason
Seattle Pacific, D2 semifinal Puget Sound, D3 quarterfinal Whitworth, D3 2nd rnd
Men's Conference Champions
Seattle University, GNAC Whitworth, NWC
Women's Conference Champions
Seattle Pacific, GNAC Puget Sound, NWC
NWAC Men's Champion
Clark d Spokane, 1-0 OT
NWAC Women's Champion
Clackamas d Walla Walla, 2-1
Member Associations
126,020 (b: 90,734/g: 35,286)
Largest Attendance
10,385, Qwest Field, Sounders v FC Dallas, U.S. Open Cup

2007: MLS, Here We Come

A late-season Sounders run takes them deep into the U.S. Cup and a USL championship, all while a Seattle bid to join Major League Soccer comes to fruition.

Spiders Emerge from Shadow
February 7, 2007

Spokane Spiders emerge to fill void left by 2006 demise of Shadow, who refused to play at Joe Albi until turf was brought up to standard) in United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League.

Dallas Denies Seattle in USOC Semi
September 4, 2007

Sounders’ string of wins over MLS clubs in U.S. Open Cup ends before 10,385 at Qwest Field with a 2-1 extra time loss to FC Dallas. After a scoreless 90 minutes, Carolos Ruiz struikes in the first minute of overtime, before an Abe Thompson penalty kick doubles the lead in the 118th. Leighton O’Brien gets a stoppage time consolation goal for Seattle.

Eastlake, Issaquah Reign Supreme
November 17, 2007

Issaquah wins shootout versus Seattle Prep in title game rematch. Eagles take third 3A title in four years, 1-0, on a late Kate Deines penalty. Eastlake gets the 4A championship behind sophomore Lindsay Elston’s goal, assist and two shootout conversions in the semi and final.

Sounders Take 4th Title Convinginly
September 29, 2007

An overflow crowd of 4,893 and national TV audience sees Sounders win USL championship, 4-0, over Atlanta Silverbacks behind two goals of early substitute Greg Howes, Seattle’s fourth championship since 1995 – more than any other existing club. Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar adds a goal and an assist on Howes’s opener on the stroke of halftime. Howes replaced injured Leighton O’Brien in the 18th minute.

Zags Get Surprise News
November 19, 2007

Gonzaga (9-6-4) receives a surprising NCAA men’s tournament berth, despite losing its final three regular season games. "I heard them say Gonzaga and I was trying to figure out who they were talking about that was in the tournament that we had played," said coach Einar Thorarinsson. "I looked up and saw and realized we were in."

Spokane Clinic Features USWNT Stars
September 1, 2007

Spokane’s River City SC hosts a two-day clinic at Plantes Ferry Park featuring U.S. Women's National Team members Brandi Chastain, Tiffeny Milbrett, Danielle Fotopoulos and Jani Branamof.

Sounders Survive Puerto Rico Scare
September 23, 2007

Greg Howes scores a vital equalizer in extra time and opened the penalty shootout by converting for the Sounders to win their semifinal series with Puerto Rico at Starfire. Eylander makes six saves then two more stops in the decisive tiebreaker after the aggregate score ends 3-3. All four Sounders score penalties.

Governor, Mayor Buy-In
November 26, 2007

Governor Christine Gregoire and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels are among the first 8,000 season ticket memberships sold in the first week after announcement of the city joining Major League Soccer in 2009.

Crowd Sees the Power
April 15, 2007

Nearly 900 fans at Bomber Field see Tri-City Power host PDL Yakima Reds in exhibition.

Seattle Pacific Forces Out McCrath
November 19, 2007

After 38 seasons and five NCAA championships at Seattle Pacific, Cliff McCrath, 71, is forced out as head coach following a 7-6-7 season. He is nine wins short (597) of the collegiate career coaching record for wins. The Falcons had 37 consecutive winning seasons since McCrath’s first year, 1970. SPU qualified for the postseason a D2 record 30 times. Mark Collings, a Seattle Pacific assistant coach and former Falcons player, is named McCrath's replacement.

Ellertson Joins Solo on WC Team
July 23, 2007

Vancouver's Tina Frimpong Ellertson is named to the U.S. National Team for the upcoming FIFA Women's World Cup in China. Ellertson joins former University of Washington teammate Hope Solo on the roster.

Finally, MLS Arrives in Seattle
November 13, 2007

Major League Soccer grants an expansion franchise to Seattle that will begin play at Qwest Field in 2009. The announcement is made at a press conference on the 75th floor of the Columbia Center. Seattle is awarded a team after solidifying an agreement with Hollywood executive Joe Roth, the majority owner, and fellow owners Adrian Hanauer, Paul Allen and Drew Carey. Seattle will be the league’s 15th team.

First Inquiries into MLS Arise
May 1, 2007

Michael and James Keston of Encino, Calif., obtain exclusive rights for an MLS expansion team in the Northwest. James Keston said he has used previous Puget Sound visits to begin negotiations for the use of Qwest Field and tour possible stadium sites in Renton and Tukwila. The exclusive agreement ends in July without the Kestons taking action.

Solo Clean Sheet in WC Quarterfinal
September 22, 2007

Hope Solo earns her 8th shutout in 14 appearances during year, a 3-0 quarterfinal win over England in Tianjin, China. It’s her third straight clean sheet in World Cup, with a 298-minute scoreless streak going into semifinal vs. Brazil, yet Solo is replaced by Brianna Scurry and U.S. loses, 4-0.

SPU Wins 23rd in a Row
November 17, 2007

Seattle Pacific women win their 23rd straight game, 4-0 over Incarnate Word, to win the Super Regional and reach the NCAA Division II semifinals. Jocelyn Charette and Janae Godoy score 56 seconds apart in the match's first four minutes.

Hazen Removes Camas from Throne
May 27, 2007

Hazen wins only its second state title in any sport, knocking off defending champion Camas for the boys 3A crown, 2-1, at Lakewood. Guillermo Palomera gets the winner with 5 minutes remaining for the Highlanders’ (19-1-1) 15th straight win.

Sounders Can't Lose
August 26, 2007

Sebastien Le Toux scores and Chris Eylander four saves in a 1-0 win over Charleston, extending Sounders’ unbeaten 14 matches (12-0-2) in all competitions. It’s Eylander’s 12th shutout and Seattle’s sixth in seven games.

Older Girls Play Moves to Spring
May 20, 2007

Washington State Youth Soccer Association moves girls club soccer from the fall to the spring, Feb-April. It will impact roughly 2,000 players in the U15-U19 age groups in the Washington State Premier League and Washington State Youth Development League, and comes partly in response to the WSYSA seeing decreased participation in its older age groups.

Saint Martin's Programs Start
August 23, 2007

Saint Martin’s plays inaugural men’s and women’s games at Cal State L.A., both falling by identical 5-0 scores. Both Saints teams compete in NCAA Division II and are coached by Rob Walker.

Keller Calls Time on Internationals
July 2, 2007

Kasey Keller earns his 102nd and final U.S. National Team cap, serving as captain for Copa America match vs. Paraguay in Barinas, Venezuela. Keller finishes his 18-year run in strong fashion, with two shutouts in six appearances.

Loggers Win 18th Straight
October 28, 2007

Two goals from Janece Levien bring Puget Sound from behind, 2-1 at Whitman, to win the Loggers’ 18th consecutive game to start the season.

Sounders' Le Toux is USL MVP
September 28, 2007

Sebastien Le Toux is voted MVP of the USL First Division after finishing co-leader in goals with 10. The Frenchman joined Seattle early in the season as a defender, then moved to midfield and finally forward. He also led all Open Cup scorers with seven goals.

Busch Enshrined in HoF
October 19, 2007

Mount Vernon’s Tim Busch is inducted into the U.S. Adult Soccer Association Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale. Busch has served as president of the Washington State Soccer Association since 1992. He has officiated amateur games since 1978.

Lightning Victim Sues
August 3, 2007

A Spokane woman struck by lightning at an August 6, 2004 Spokane Valley soccer tournament sues River City Soccer Club, the Spokane Valley Junior Soccer Association and the Washington State Youth Soccer Association for alleged failure to enforce safety rules. She alleges tournament officials not only failed to use ordinary care but ignored the U.S. Soccer’s "30-30" rule for keeping players and spectators safe during thunderstorms.

41 Countries Represented in All Nations Cup
July 13, 2007

More than 1,000 men and nearly 100 women are expected for All Nations Cup, set to begin at Starfire. Men representing 41 countries will participate in the main tournament, with 12 teams in the men's master division and four teams in the women's tourney. Play culminates July 29 at Memorial Stadium.

Sounders Hammer MLS Rapids
August 7, 2007

After a goal-line clearance by Danny Jackson, first-half, set-play goals two minutes apart from Taylor Graham and Zach Scott blow open Seattle’s Open Cup quarterfinal vs Colorado Rapids, and Sounders go on to advance, 5-0 – the worst loss by an MLS club in the competition to date.

Hanauer Wants to be Part-Owner
July 10, 2007

MLS club leaders increasingly rave about potential for clubs coming to Pacific Northwest. Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer says he’s willing to be part of any of three investor groups circling Seattle.

Puget Sound Reaches 3rd Round
November 11, 2007

Adrienne Folsom delivers the decisive goal to give Puget Sound a 2-1, comeback victory over Whitworth in the second round of the NCAA Division III women’s tournament in Tacoma, the Loggers third win over the Pirates.

Longtime Official Dies Suddenly
September 4, 2007

Longtime referee John Glore, 63, dies after falling ill during high school varsity match between Peninsula and Gig Harbor. Glore begins feeling ill and switches roles with an assistant referee about 15 minutes before collapsing. He dies at Tacoma General Hospital. Glore, who also worked for Boeing, had refereed more than 30 years and 500 matches.

Everett Kids Help Stricken Boy
March 17, 2007

A benefit clinic at Everett’s Kasch Park draw more than 160 kids and raises more than $5,800 for a local 13-year-old scheduled to undergo treatment for leukemia.

The vision for this team is a truly international brand - an authentic team. The name will reflect that. It will speak to soccer and it will speak to the city.
Adrian Hanauer, an owner of yet-to-be-named MLS club
We have 25,000 seats in the lower bowl, and we believe they will be filled. It's the loudest stadium in the NFL, and we believe in 2009 it will be the loudest stadium in MLS.
Tod Leiweke, CEO of the Seattle Seahawks and Vulcan Sports, part-owner of new Seattle MLS franchise
Cliff McCrath simply was Seattle Pacific University to many around the area and the country. He did more to put the school on the map than any individual.
Peter Hattrup, former SPU standout, on McCrath's legacy
He's iconic. He's a respected figure in the sport and has been so successful for such a long period of time. He's such an influential figure, especially around here, for all the things he's done to promote the visibility of the game.
Washington men's soccer coach Dean Wurzberger on the contributions of Cliff McCrath "
(Cliff) McCrath has been winning games at SPU longer than the Mariners and Seahawks have been in town. Since the Nixon administration, the guy has been here teaching soccer, straightening lives and telling groaners at sports banquets.
Art Thiel, Seattle P-I columnist, on McCrath being ousted as head coach
It was the wrong decision, and I think anybody who knows anything about the game knows that. There’s no doubt in my mind I would have made those saves.
Hope Solo, after being benched for the World Cup semifinal 4-0 loss to Brazil
Cliff McCrath got fired? Shut up. You have got to be kidding me. My jaw still sits on the floor as I write this.
Michelle Akers, Seattle area native and former U.S. women's national team star, in an e-mail to the Seattle P-I
There's a lot of buzz right now around Seattle-MLS. I think there's as good a chance as there has ever been about this thing coming together this time. It's all going to be based on a good stadium solution, either at Qwest or preferably in a new soccer-specific stadium.
Adrian Hanauer, USL Sounders owner, in July, regarding growing interest from various prospective MLS ownership groups
My goal is for this team, five years from now, is to get on the field with any club in the world and, not beat them, but belong there.
Joe Roth, upon becoming majority owner of Seattle MLS club
To come home and share this with my family and friends is just awesome. It's no joke that we were on a big winning streak and that we're holding the trophy now.
Greg Howes, a Tacoma native, who came off the bench to score twice for the Sounders in the USL championship game
Soccer in the Northwest has always been ahead of its time. In fact, my mom’s been playing soccer for longer than I have. This whole community has been ahead of its time at offering leagues and teams for these women to play in. Women’s athletics has been accepted up here for as long as I can remember.
Tiffeny Milbrett, Portland native and USWNT star, while appearing at Spokane clinic
Neil was soccer in Seattle. If you ever played, if your kids played, or if you coached, Neil touched your life. That's not an overstatement.
Parker Mason, friend of Neil Callahan, Seattle YSA president who died December 12
We don't talk about wins or losses very much. We talk about no regrets. We want to look back in December and say, `You know what, there wasn't one single game where we didn't come and give it our all.
Chuck Sekyra, coach of SPU women's team that won its first 23 games
I was surprised. They outlined several reasons, but (what) they basically felt was that I had lost my passion for the job and that I hadn't fully dedicated myself to the team and the program as I had before. They told me it was time...It's not the way I imagined it ending, I'll say that.
Cliff McCrath, Seattle Pacific's coach of 38 years, on his unexpected termination
I didn't have a destination, just an idea. I told (MLS commissioner Don Garber) I want to help grow a franchise in a city, and I want to be involved with the growth of the league in general.
Joe Roth, MLS Seattle majority owner
If you don't like the job he's doing, if he doesn't have a winning team, if you don't like the product, if you don't think the hot dogs taste good when you go to the stadium, you can just vote him out. We're not afraid to let the fans have the power.
Drew Carey, Sounders owner and proponent of season ticket holders having greater say in the club's management, including potential dismissal of the GM
USL Finals - Sounders vs. Silverbacks

VIDEO: USL Finals - Sounders vs. Silverbacks

On this Day in History