01 September 2009

know your foe - seattle sounders fc

Since 1996 the Washington Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, and Nationals have combined for exactly zero championships. During the same course of time, DC United has amassed twelve. Wednesday night at RFK Stadium they'll look to add their thirteenth major championship in the 2009 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final. United is the defending Open Cup Champions beating the Charleston Battery 2-1 to claim the 2008 trophy. On the road to the final United has beaten; FC Dallas (2-0), NY RedBulls (5-3), Ocean City Barons (2-1), Harrisburg City Islanders (2-1), and the Rochester Rhinos (2-1). The Sounders have beaten; Real Salt Lake (4-1), Colorado Rapids (1-0), Portland Timbers (2-1), Kansas City Wizards (1-0), and the Houston Dynamo (2-1).

While the Seattle Sounders FC may be new to Major League Soccer, the name is taken from the North American Soccer League club that played in Seattle from 1974-1983, as well as the USL First Division team from 1994-2008. The city of Seattle had originally hoped to be awarded a franchise when Major League Soccer began play in 1996, however, due to a variety of reasons the city was overlooked. Initial requirements for an MLS franchise required 10,000 season ticket deposits, as well as the league looking favorably upon cities with natural grass surfaces hindered their efforts considerably. In 1998 MLS expanded adding the Chicago Fire and now disbanded Miami Fusion, and although Seattle again looked to be awarded a team in 2005 a second team in Los Angeles, Chivas USA, and Real Salt Lake were added. The league would announce expansion into Canada by adding Toronto FC in 2007, before it was announced in November 2007 that Seattle would be the spot of MLS's 15th club. Supporters were asked to vote for the name of the new franchise, and although Sounders FC was not one of the options, the majority of the votes cast were in favor of adopting the name of the former NASL and current USL-1 club. The Sounders began play in the 2009 season winning their first match 3-0 in front of a sold out Qwest Field.

Known best for it's overpriced coffee and suicide-inducing shity weather, Seattle, Washington is the 25th most populated city in the United States. While the city of Seattle has been inhabited since the end of the last glacial period (c. 8,000 bc) it was Arthur Deny who founded the first American settlement in what is now present day Seattle in November 1851. Like all great American cities the settlers of Seattle began gradually laying claim to land inhabited by Native Americans, placing bounties on the scalps of so called "bad indians", and jailing any settlers accused of sympathizing with the natives, culminating with the battle of Seattle in 1856. Present day Seattle's most recognizable landmark, the Space Needle, was built for the 1962 world's fair standing at over 600 feet tall. For over 40 years the Space Needle has provided residents of Seattle a perfect jumping place for when the stark reality that it rains some 225 days a year in the Emerald City crushes their will to live.The Sounders play their home matches at Seattle's Qwest Field. When roof tiles from the Kingdome began falling during a Mariner's pre-game it was apparent it was time for a new stadium. Paid for in part by the Seahawks' new owner Paul Allen, and state wide tax raises, lottery games, as well as taxes on the stadium itself, Seattle's Qwest Field opened in 2002 for a preseason game with the Indianapolis Colts. Qwest Field quickly became known as one of the NFL's toughest stadiums to play in due to the intense noise generated by the grunge music loving flannel adorned crowd. In a 2005 game, the visiting New York Giants committed eleven false start penalties largely due to the overwhelming crowd noise. Qwest Field features artificial field turf and has a capacity of around 32,000 for soccer matches.

Hoping to start a new team from scratch team officials opened online voting for the team's name giving the options of: Seattle Alliance, Seattle Republic, Seattle FC, and a write in option. More than 80% of the 15,000 supporter's votes were in favor of the name 'Sounders'. Named for Seattle's Puget Sound and also paying homage to the NASL team that played in Seattle during the mid 70's and early 80's, as well as the USL team that had won four league championships (1995, 1996, 2005, & 2007), and three Commissioner's Cups (equivalent of the MLS Supporter's Shield) in 1994, 2002, & 2007. The club's official name was announced in a press conference at the city's space needle with original Sounders Jimmy Gabriel and Pepe Fernandez and former coach Alan Hinton in attendance. The official team colors are Sounder Blue, representing the waters of the Puget Sound; Rave Green, which is either a shout out to the city's ecstasy taking rave goers or representing the forests of the Pacific Northwest; and Cascade Shale, representing the Cascade Range to the east of Seattle.

The Sounders announced their partnership with Seattle based Microsoft and Xbox 360 Live became the presenting partner of the Sounders. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has a minority ownership stake in the Sounders as well as being the owner of the Seattle Seahawks, and Portland Jail Blazers. In addition to partnering with the Sounders and Major League Soccer, during the Sounder's home matches the field is known as "The Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field"

While it is widely believed that the team is owned by the un-funiest man in America, and serial rapist look-alike Drew Carey, the majority of the team is owned by Joe Roth. After co-founding Morgan Creek productions (Young Guns, True Romance, Ace Ventura, Major League, et al.) in 1987, Roth went on to head 20th Century Fox (1989-1993) and Walt Disney pictures (1994-2000). Now instead of producing cinematic masterpieces he chose to produce shit footie. Roth is joined by minority owners Adrian Hanauer (also the team's GM), Paul Allen, and Drew Carey. Carey's involvement in the team was contingent on the team adding the league's only marching band, the Sound Wave, as well as adopting a European style to the team's upper management in which supporter's can vote out the team's general manager every four years. I thought it odd that no other team in Major League Soccer had their own marching band until I realized it's a god damn marching band at a footie match. Apparently I'm not alone in thinking that as supporters of the club petitioned the front office to have the band moved to the far end of the pitch where they didn't have to hear their rendition of the price is right's theme song ten times a match. Tossers.

Less than a week after leading the Columbus Crew to their first ever Supporter's Shield and MLS Cup victory in 2008, Sigi Schmid was name head coach of the expansion Sounders. Schmid and current US National Team's Head Coach Bob Bradley are the only two coaches to be named MLS coach of the year twice , Schmid winning in 2008 and 2002 as coach of the LA Galaxy. While with the Galaxy Schmid led the team to two Supporter's Shields (1999 & 2002), the US Open Cup in 2001, MLS Cup in 2002, and the CONCACAF Champions Cup in 2001. He is second in all time MLS wins only to Bob Bradley's record of 124. Prior to coaching in Major League Soccer Schmid spent two separate years at the helm of the US U-20 men's team as well as twenty years as the head coach of the UCLA leading the Bruins to over 320 wins.

Safe to say the Sounders are well supported. In just their first year they lead Major League Soccer in attendance. Over 32,000 fans were in attendance at their inaugural match. One of their more vocal supporter's groups is the Emerald City Supporters originally formed in 2005 following the USL Sounders. Other supporter's groups include the North End Supporters, and Gorilla FC? Seriously? Gorilla FC? Among the Emerald City Supporter's greatest hits is Take Em' All:

Take ‘em all,
Take ‘em all,
Put ‘em up against a wall and shoot ‘em,
Short n tall, watch ‘em fall,
Come on boys, take ‘em all
Hmmm, this just proves a point I've been trying to make for years, just because two things rhyme doesn't make it a good song. Wankers.

From now on any thing footie related on this blog is going to contain at least one reference to those savage cunts Millwall! It's amazing that former Millwall keeper Casey Keller and former Westham forward and designated player Freddie Ljungberg haven't stabbed each other yet. Keller was one of the first players signed with the club after helping Fulham avoid relegation on the last day of the Premiership with a 1-0 win at Portsmoth in 2008. He posted three consecutive shut outs to begin the 2009 season in Seattle. Swedish striker Ljungberg joined the team from the mighty Hammers after only netting 2 goals in 25 appearances. Ljunberg's contract is worth more than $10 million for two years, a great investment given the fact that in 17 starts he's managed to notch just two goals. Other players of note include forward Nate Jaqua, Jamaican defender Tyrone Marshall, Columbian forward Fredy Montero, and French midfielder S├ębastien Le Toux.

The Game
If you're reading this in the DC Metro area and not planning to attend the match, shame on you. United rolled back prices to 1996 and tickets are a mere $12 with $2 beers, which can mean only one thing - it's going to be a shit show of epic proportions. United is undefeated in league play this year at estadio RFK. The two clubs played to a 3-3 draw earlier this year in Seattle. Chris 'party boy' Pontius scored in the fourth minute, before Seattle scored three unanswered goals (Alonso '36, Jaqua '45, & Montero '57) before Christian Gomez answered in 63rd minute and Seattle added an own goal from Tyrone Marshall off of shot from Santino Quaranta in the 87th. United has marketed the hell out of this match and it would be a shame if Seattle ended up winning the match. Ultimately I'm taking United in a nail biter.
Prediction - United 3 : Sounders FC 2


Sterlinho said...

I love that you ripped on Gorilla FC. They're kind of posers. Thanks for the comment Rob.

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