Seattle Is Ground Zero

A dream come true, only bigger and more magical than anyone could’ve imagined. In its first season, the Seattle Sounders FC proved to be fantasy futbol in the flesh. Eye-popping achievements all around, from the field to the fans to the club’s community outreach. Everything and everyone the Sounders touched seemingly turned to rave green. And green is good.

Proof of that success is found everywhere. A championship banner hangs from the Qwest Field rafters and a trophy sits in the team offices. Led by a 53-piece marching band, fans flooded the streets of Pioneer Square for the March to the Match and then filed into the stadium, filling every seat for each and every home MLS match–16 consecutive sell-outs.

The collective passion of this club and its supporters is clearly evident from afar: the pulsating, scarf-waving sea of green is a sight to behold, and to hear the roar firsthand can send shivers up the spine. American soccer has never seen or felt anything like it.

Soccer had long ago taken root in the community and its first pro team, the Sounders of the NASL, had been enthusiastically supported. Later, the proponents of the sport helped push through an initiative to build a world-class venue, Qwest Field.

By 2009, the hunger for an MLS team was ravenous. Season tickets were capped at 22,000 and twice capacity was increased to accommodate demand. The club didn’t need glitz or added incentive the community’s appetite for soccer was authentic. The kids who had tagged along with parents and coaches to the Kingdome were now parents and coaches themselves. On the field, Sounders FC shot off the mark, becoming the first expansion team to win its first three games, and it did so without allowing a goal. Seattle coach Sigi Schmid delivered to the fans an XI which was instantly cohesive, fearless and attack-minded.

Whereas the USL Sounders had made several deep runs into the U.S. Open Cup, their MLS successors finished the job. Seattle won six straight knockout matches, the last in the nation’s capital, where the Sounders wrested the cup from holders D.C. United, 2-1.

The Sounders were not the only new club to open. Across Puget Sound, in Bremerton, the Kitsap Pumas debuted in the Premier Development League, joining Seattle Wolves, Spokane Spiders, Tacoma Tide and Yakima Reds in the Northwest Division.

Year in Review
12-7-11, 3rd West Conf., MLS 1st rnd
Sigi Schmid (1st year)
Best XI
Freddie Ljungberg
Top Scorer
Fredy Montero (12 goals)
U.S. Open Cup
Seattle Sounders, champion
Kitsap Pumas
12-1-3, 1st NW Div. PDL qtrfnl
Seattle Wolves
10-3-3, 3rd NW Div. PDL 2nd rnd
Sounders Women
3-3-6, 3rd West 2nd rnd W-League
Spokane Spiders
3-13-0, 10th NW Div. PDL
Tacoma Tide
5-7-4, 7th NW Div. PDL
Yakima Reds
3-11-2, 9th 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
WIAA Boys Champion
4A-South Kitsap, 3A-Shorecrest, 2A-Squalicum, 1A-Wahluke, 1B-Providence
WIAA Girls Champion
4A-Skyline, 3A-Columbia River, 2A-Archbishop Murphy, 1A-Seattle Academy, 1B-Orcas Island
Largest Attendance
66,848, Qwest Field, Sounders v Barcelona (friendly)

2009: Seattle Is Ground Zero

A new era is ushered into American soccer with Seattle’s huge, vocal fan base gaining the world’s attention overnight. The Sounders’ first season, on and off the field, rates as perhaps the most successful in U.S. expansion sports history.

Seattle Storms Columbus Fortress
October 3, 2009

A first-half goal from Roger Levesque and relentless effort at the defensive end proved enables the Sounders to snap Columbus’s MLS record 22-game home unbeaten streak with a 1-0 victory at Crew Stadium. Making only his second start of regular season, Levesque staked Seattle to a lead in the 36th minute. The defending MLS champion Crew’s best chance to score came in the 81st minute. Guillermo Barros Schelotto sent his penalty kick wide of the left post. Tyrone Marshall figured in three pivotal defensive plays. He redirects Eddie Gaven’s shot off the crossbar and later Marshall’s overhead kick saved a header from Steven Lenhart on the goal line.

Sounders Head to USOC Final
July 21, 2009

Stephen King scores the game-winning goal in the fifth minute of overtime to give the Seattle Sounders FC a 2-1 comeback win over the Houston Dynamo in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinal at Starfire Sports Stadium before 4,895. Nate Jaqua, playing with a bandaged head, sends the match into overtime with a goal in the 89th minute.

Whitworth Shutout Earns Advancement
November 21, 2009

A second-half own goal pushes Whitworth through to the NCAA Division III section final with a 1-0 win over Hardin-Simmons in Dubuque, Iowa. Brian Sherpe earns the shutout for the Pirates, who unbeaten in 13 games (11-0-2).

Rave Signs Colombian Gold Booter
January 21, 2009

Seattle acquires 21-year-old Fredy Montero on loan from Deportivo Cali, where he was two-time scoring leader in Colombian first division.

Sixty Acres South Breaks Ground
September 1, 2009

Lake Washington YSA breaks ground on a $1.6M project that includes nine new fields plus other amenities at Sixty Acres South. By summer 2010, the entire complex will total 25 fields, making it the biggest soccer facility west of the Mississippi. The first 16 fields have been leased and operated by LWYSA since 1984.

A Perfect Opening Night
March 19, 2009

Fredy Montero scores twice and Brad Evans adds another as Sounders win inaugural game, 3-0, over New York Red Bulls before at national TV audience and 32,523. Seattle played without Freddie Ljungberg. Four members of last season’s USL team – Zach Scott, Sebastien Le Toux, Sanna Nyassi and Roger Levesque - played. Kasey Keller, playing in his home state, made two saves to notch the shutout.

Nine New Fields in Monroe
August 27, 2009

Sky River SC opens new, nine-field complex in Monroe – second only to Snohomish’s Stockers Fields among Snohomish County facilities. Fredy Montero and Osvaldo Alonso of the Sounders are on hand for the opening.

Pumas Purr in Opener
May 2, 2009

Stephen Phillips delivers a hat trick and Kitsap Pumas win their inaugural game, 5-0 at Spokane Spiders in Post Falls.

Solo Named USSF Player of the Year
December 21, 2009

Richland’s Hope Solo becomes the first goalkeeper named U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year. Solo helped lead St. Louis Athletica to second in the WPS standings and was instrumental in the USWNT going undefeated throughout the year and allowing only one goal.

Fewing Named Kitsap Boss
November 9, 2009

Peter Fewing is named coach of Kitsap Pumas, who went 13-2-3 and won the PDL Northwest in their first season.

Gold Cup Comes to Qwest
July 4, 2009

Robbie Rogers assists on two goals and scores a third as USMNT celebrates Independence Day at Qwest Field by beating Grenada, 4-0, in a CONCACAF Gold Cup group match. Freddy Adu, Stuart Holden and Charlie Davies also score, and Sounders midfielder Brad Evans makes his international debut as a 63rd minute substitute

Novack Sparks Scots to Title
May 30, 2009

Jeremy Novack scores shortly before and after halftime in leading Shorecrest past West Valley, 5-2. It is the Scots’ second 3A state championship in the past five years.

Falcons Win 10th Straight by Shutout
September 30, 2009

Seattle Pacific erupts for five second-half goals and Maddie Dickinson posts the No. 1-ranked Falcons’ 10th straight shutout – all wins – to open the season, after a 5-0 victory over Western Oregon.

Sounders Prepare in Argentina
February 27, 2009

A five-match, 9-day Sounders preseason tour of Argentina begins with a 3-1 training game win at Estudiantes in Buenos Aires. Seattle goes 2-1-1 with one match canceled due to heavy rain.

Rave Wins 3rd Straight
April 4, 2009

Freddie Ljungberg scores in his first start and rookie Steve Zakuani also gets a goals as the Sounders remain perfect, winning their road opener, 2-0, at Toronto.

Chelsea Comes to Town
July 18, 2009

Daniel Sturridge and Frank Lampard score first-half goals as FA Cup-holders Chelsea FC earns a 2-0 win over the Seattle in a friendly match played before 65,289 on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field Saturday afternoon. The crowd established a new Sounders FC record for attendance and it was the third-largest figure for a professional soccer match played in Seattle.

Solo Stars in Algarve Cup
March 9, 2009

Hope Solo is named Best Player of Algarve Cup, allowing one goal in four matches. She is the first keeper to win the award in 14 tournaments.

Saints March to Top
October 31, 2009

Vlad Voin scores in the 75th minute and Saint Martin’s wins at Northwest Nazarene, 2-1, and clinch the Saints’ first Great Northwest Athletic Conference men’s championship.

Van der Meer: Spokane's Mr. Soccer
September 30, 2009

Cor van der Meer, founder and former longtime coach of men’s and women’s soccer at Community Colleges of Spokane, dies after a lengthy battle with lung cancer at age 74. Van der Meer was regarded as Spokane’s Mr. Soccer. He was CCS men’s coach for 20 years and 11 for the women. He also founded a five-a-side tournament now marking 25 years.

Vini Wins Sounders Reality Tryout
February 1, 2009

Vinicius “Vini” Oliveira, a 20-year-old native of Brazil, Edmonds resident and player for Bellevue College, wins Sounders SuperSearch, televised live from Starfire Sports. Oliveira earns a preseason roster spot.

Messi Masterful in Barca Visit
August 5, 2009

Lionel Messi scores a pair of sensational first-half goals before a record Pacific Northwest soccer crowd of 66,848 as reigning European champion Barcelona eases to a 4-0 win over Sounders FC in a friendly.

Two News Field for Clallam
November 18, 2009

Clallam County Parks dedicates two soccer fields in Agnew, between Port Angeles and Sequim. The fields are made possible through Storm King Soccer Club, Agnew Helpful Neighbors Club and a grant from the state Recreation and Conservation Office.

Seattle Advances in USOC
July 7, 2009

Sebastien Le Toux’s 89th-minute penalty, his 11th career U.S. Open Cup goal, gives Sounders a 1-0 quarterfinal win over 10-man Kansas City, 1-0, before 4,352 at Starfire. It extends Seattle unbeaten run to six games (4-0-2) in all competitions.

Bremerton Welcomes Pumas
May 15, 2009

Kitsap Pumas draw, 1-1, with Tacoma Tide in first home game, played before 1,572 at Bremerton’s Memorial Stadium, which featured a new video scoreboard.

Big Crowd Sees RSL Take MLS Cup
November 22, 2009

Real Salt Lake prevails on penalties to take MLS Cup (1-1 5-4) over the LA Galaxy, the first played on artificial turf. Attendance was 46,011 the largest for a final since 2002 and the fourth-largest in League history. The crowd ranks No. 7 for soccer since Qwest Field opened in 2002 and No. 10 in Seattle history.

Sounders Claim Open Cup
September 2, 2009

Seattle becomes the second MLS expansion franchise to win the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title with a 2-1 victory over D.C. United at RFK Stadium. Roger Levesque scores what proves to be the game-winning goal in the 86th minute on an assist by Sebastien Le Toux. Fredy Montero opens the scoring in the 67th minute after a Freddie Ljungberg shot was initially saved by United goalkeeper Josh Wicks. Moments after the goal, Wick stomps on a fallen Montero and is sent off.

Montero Named Top Newcomer
November 11, 2009

Seattle’s Fredy Montero is named MLS Newcomer of the Year after finishing third in scoring with 12 goals. Montero’s teammates, Freddie Ljungberg and Kasey Keller were the other finalists for the award.

Levesque Torments Timbers
July 1, 2009

Roger Levesque opens the MLS era of the Cascadia rivalry by scoring after 46 seconds, and Stephen King tallies what proves to be the U.S. Open Cup third-round winner, 2-1, in the 27th minute before a record crowd of 16,382 at PGE Park.

Seattle Wins, Sets Attendance Mark
October 24, 2009

Brad Evans scores the game winning goal in the 84th minute as the Sounders cap the regular season with a 2-1 comeback win over FC Dallas. Seattle’s 47 points (12-7-11) earns the third seed in the Western Conference and fourth-best total overall. It’s also the 125th career win for Sigi Schmid, the most in MLS history. Freddie Ljungberg assists on both goals, beginning with Nate Jaqua’s equalizer. With a crowd of 33,108, Seattle sets an MLS season average attendance record (30,943).

Cascadia Cup to be Rebooted
March 18, 2009

MLS announces Vancouver to become 17th team in 2011. Two days later, Portland is admitted, recreating the Cascadia Cup rivalry.

Sounders Tap Zakuani First
January 15, 2009

Sounders make Akron winger Steve Zakuani the first selection in the MLS SuperDraft in St. Louis.

Skyline Beats Rival for 4A Title
November 21, 2009

Skyline sophomore goalkeeper Tina Vargas makes two saves in the shootout, the Spartans' third tiebreaker in four playoff games, as they beat rival Issaquah (1-1 3-1) for their second consecutive 4A state title at Lakewood. Issaquah had defeated Skyline, 3-1, three weeks earlier for the Kingco title.

Kitsap Gets its Man
February 10, 2009

John Wedge is hired as first head coach of the Kitsap Pumas. Kitsap Pumas clinch the PDL Northwest Division title.

South Kitsap Shocks Pasco
May 30, 2009

South Kitsap becomes the first Kitsap squad to capture a boys’ soccer championship, with the Wolves toppling previously undefeated Pasco, 2-1, in Lakewood. The Bulldogs entered the match with a 19-0-0 record. South Kitsap, the No. 3 finisher in the Narrows League behind Stadium and Bellarmine Prep, played the role of underdog with 14-3-1 record.

Sounders Clinch Playoff Berth
October 17, 2009

Second-half goals from Roger Levesque and Nate Jaqua earn the Sounders a playoff-clinching, 3-2 comeback win at Kansas City. Freddie Ljungberg is a factor in all three Seattle goals and earns two assists. Jaqua nets the game-winner in the 76th minute. A Ljungberg corner kick sets-up Levesque’s goal to knot the score in the 69th minute. Seattle becomes the first expansion team in 11 years to make the playoffs.

Tonight, our history becomes legend.
Emerald City Supporters tifo prior to inaugural Sounders FC match
Bottom line: If you're a soccer fan living in America, you're doing yourself a great disservice if you don't make an attempt to take in a Seattle Sounders FC game. The overwhelming fan support, the sold-out crowds, the insane noise level inside Qwest Field - it's enough to bring a tear to one's eye, as it did for MLS commissioner Don Garber.
Jonah Freedman, Sports Illustrated
The scenes wouldn't be noteworthy in most parts of the world, but in America, they are rare. The Brougham End, where fans stand and cheer and chant for the entire game. The March to the Match, during which hundreds of fans and a 53-piece marching band fill the streets with color and noise on their way to Qwest Field, of which seats are filled by noisy, enthusiastic fans swathed in blue and green.”
USA Today
He was a true professional - always loyal, and a man who believed in soccer and what youth and athletes of all ages could gain from participating in it.
Maury Ray, CC Spokane athletic director, eulogizing longtime coach Cor van der Meer
We did the motorbike celebration to show that Sounders FC is taking off for the start of great things.
Fredy Montero, Sounders FC forward, describing his first goal celebration
The support that we’ve gotten from the city, the love that they’ve showered upon our team and the organization–and hopefully what we’ve returned to them as well–we just want this to continue. I don’t want to wake up if this is a dream.
Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid, following final regular season home match
You see him on TV. I see him every day. He is the best in the world not only for his youth, but also for his ability to dominate all aspects of the game.
Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola of Lionel Messi following Sounders FC friendly
We work extremely hard. We fight like hell to stop teams from scoring. We put our bodies on the line.
Kasey Keller, Sounders FC goalkeeper, after win at Toronto pushes them to perfect 3-0-0 start
If you would have told me at the beginning of the game that we would have won the game on a bicycle kick, and I had to pick one of my players that was going to score the bicycle kick, I think Ianni would have been number nine.
Brian Schmetzer, coaching in Sigi Schmid's absence, on Patrick Ianni's overhead kick winner vs. Houston
How do you improve an atmosphere that had distinguished Seattle from every other team in the MLS sometime between opening of the gates and end of the national anthem?
John McGrath, News Tribune columnist after Sounders FC inaugural match
To repeat as state champions in this state is probably the most difficult challenge I can picture for a high school team. The way they did it, by always competing, always playing tough and just being so stingy on conceding goals — it's exactly the kind of thing we wanted out of them."
Skyline girls coach Don Braman
I think the expectations are to win the league. Why not? They've got a trophy. I've said to Robin (Waite), I'd love to see us win in an Open Cup game or two.
Peter Fewing, upon being named Kitsap Pumas coach
When you take a step back, the credibility that we have, the awareness we have of the great success in Seattle on the field and off the field gives us something that we've never had before, which is a real indication as to what the sport can be in this country.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber
It took 25 years, but the world’s game is back in Seattle. You guys (the fans) did it with a big bang. With 22,000 season tickets, the Sounders have the most successful start in MLS history. You did it — Seattle is the center of soccer in America.
Sounders FC owner Joe Roth, addressing fans before inauagural match
We really wanted to make a point, coming here and winning it for our fans and for our organization.
Sounders FC captain Kasey Keller of U.S. Open Cup championship
The night was full of magic. For two hours, the green-garbed fans danced and sang as if they thought they were from Manchester… This was the perfect beginning for a franchise that is doing everything right.
Seattle Times columnist Steve Kelley, reflecting on Sounders FC opening night
You have to tip your hat to Seattle as far as doing everything right. Every team that comes here wants to bring their best game because it such a great atmosphere.
Denis Hamlett, Chicago Fire coach
It was amazing. It really reminded me of a crowd in Europe, they were all cheering the Sounders and rightly so. It was tremendous and a great atmosphere.
Thierry Henry, Barcelona striker, of Sounders FC crowd
Seattle Sounders MLS Inaugural game

VIDEO: Seattle Sounders MLS Inaugural game

2009 Open Cup - Sounders vs DC United

VIDEO: 2009 Open Cup - Sounders vs DC United

Seattle Sounders at Columbus Crew

VIDEO: Seattle Sounders at Columbus Crew

Sounders vs Portland in Open Cup

VIDEO: Sounders vs Portland in Open Cup

On this Day in History
April 24, 1986
FC Seattle Storm hosts Canada’s World Cup-bound national team at Shoreline Stadium five weeks before Mexico ’86. A gathering of 660 fans see Canada prevail, 3-2, on Randy Samuel’s 67th-minute winner. Dale Mitchell and Randy Ragan made it 2-0 before Seattle’s Peter Hattrup and Kevin Iverson countered. Jimmy Gabriel played all 18 of his available players.
More from 1986 ›
Seattle Pacific University receives a $2 million gift for construction of a soccer/track facility from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. The gift equals the largest ever given by the trust and the largest single cash gift ever received by SPU. Since starting in 1968, SPU men's soccer has never had a home field.
More from 1994 ›
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.
More from 2007 ›
Vic Weston is among the organizers of a benefit match to raise funds for families of four miners lost in the Landsburg mine disaster. The sudden January 29 cave-in 600 feet underground occurred near Ravensdale. The game features oldtimers from Black Diamond and a Seattle selection.
More from 1955 ›