Seattle – Everything went well for the Sounders, who were prepared for a nearly two-hour grinding operation by a sea of Seattle fans in blue and green, pushing their trademark electric energy into the pitch.
It was history – and it felt like a joint effort between a team and its supporters.
For more than 20 years, no major league soccer team has ever won a CONCACAF Champions League tournament, featuring the best teams from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. But the Sounders ended the drought with Pacific Northwest rain: a 3-0 win over Mexico’s Pumas on Wednesday.
How important was the victory?
During this week’s run-up to the match, Sounders general manager Gareth Legroy called it an opportunity to become a football legend.
I A promotional hype videoNone other than retired Seahawks icon Marshon Lynch called it a “big (big) game.” At half-time on Wednesday, 1-0 up with the Sounders, MLS Commissioner Don Garber stood in his suit at Lumen Field, staring me in the eye, calling the match “the biggest game in league history”. ۔
Since its inception in 1996, the MLS has sought to become an American league of a standard that can compete head-to-head with world powers. But so far, failure for MLS in this annual tournament has been a formality, with rival Mexican league teams winning the last 13 Concacaf tournaments.
Well, the Sounders buried those failures on Wednesday.
The match was initially cut short and was marred by physical play that forced a pair of key sounders, Joao Paulo and Nohu Tolu, to leave with injuries. But Seattle shined its trademark flexibility. Goal Stephen Frey, considered the most valuable player of the tournament, supported a strong defense, and the Sounders maintained the attack until forward Raلl Roedias scored on a deviant shot at the end of the half. What Roedias scored another goal in the 80th minute in a smooth counter attack.
Nicolas Lodero sealed the victory with a goal in the 88th minute and the fans rushed to the stands to celebrate.
Winning qualifies the team for the FIFA Club World Cup, a tournament full of football royalties. The last time Chelsea in the Premier League won it. Either Liverpool or Real Madrid will represent the next Europe. Just being in the same lottery as the teams of this race are brand new to MLS.
After that, it is appropriate that the Sounders take the league to this new arena. Since joining MLS during the expansion wave in 2009, he has enchanted this football-filled city by winning two MLS Cup championships in four runs until the final. Seattle has led the league in all but two seasons, with fans in the area bringing the same excitement to Lumen as is known to Seahawks fans. Probably more. The tournament’s record 68,741 spectators showed the home team the Pumas game. On wednesday night
How did Seattle become an American football behemoth?
There is no single answer. Part of it is the city’s history of adopting unconventional and outreach – which still defines professional football in the context of American sports. Seattle gave birth to Boeing and Microsoft, Starbucks and Amazon. He gave the world grunge rock and Quincy Jones. Jimmy Hendricks went to high school three miles from Lumin Field. Bruce Lee sharpened his martial arts skills a short distance away.
One of his great works of art is the troll sculpture that sits under a bridge. It has become customary to tie it in a big blue and green sounders scarf before the big games.
The city’s love for football in all its forms – from the Sounders to the NWSL’s OL Reign, to the colleges and junior leagues – is also a product of a specific past and a specific team: the Seattle Sounders of The Long. Ineffective North American Soccer League.
From 1974 to 1983, those sounders were part of the first real-world effort to put the United States-based competition for professional football within the hemisphere.
If you ask me, a Seattle native who grew up in that era, I would say that love started with one game in particular.
Since I was 9 years old I called it the Yellow Game. That’s when I took a city bus in downtown to see the actual soundtrack. The date was April 9, 1976, the first sporting event ever held in the collapsed Kingdom.
The crowd of about 60,000, then the largest in the history of North American football, saw Seattle host the star-studded New York Cosmos and its leader, the greatest player in the game of football: Yellow Black Pearl, as he was known, came to NASL to celebrate the last closing of his career – and as an ambassador to shine the game in North America. I don’t remember the details of this match as much as I do in the fear of Laith and the powerful Brazilian.
Pele did not disappoint. They scored two goals in a 3-1 victory.
The game was a harbinger. Those first sounders quickly became local legends, immersed in the fabric of the city. In those days it seemed to me that a sounder visited every classroom in every government school. In 1977, the Sounders made it to the league’s Soccer Bowl title match. Played in front of a full house in Portland, Orie, a three-hour drive south, they lost 2-1 to Cosmos in the last non-yellow game.
“I still have his jersey,” Jimmy McAllister said in a phone interview. I could almost see a smile on his face. O Seattle team defender and 1977 NASL rookie of the year, McAllister, told me how he called the nerves to ask for his fake number 10 jersey from Pele. Fiction is obligatory. The jersey is now in McAlister’s lockbox.
“People call me from time to time, wanting to buy it,” he said. It is not for sale. Some things are more valuable than money. Jersey contains memory and soul.
McAllister loves modern sounders. He praised their coherence, blue-collar work ethic, and their growing abilities. Raised in Seattle, he is one of the many sounders who have lived in the city since the end of his playing days. These days he runs one of the junior development clubs. Many others stayed to teach sports, clinics and coaching in high schools and colleges. Some helped lead a dysfunctional minor league team – also known as the Sounders.
He kept football alive in the fallen couple of decades between the demise of NASL and the birth of MLS.
On Wednesday night, about an hour after the game, spectators were at Lumin Field. Wide swaths of them. Joyful slogans echoed in the field covered with confetti. The players responded by lifting the Gold Champions League trophy. Unlike this 1976 Kingdom game – Real Sounders vs. Shiny, Starry Cosmos – this matchup wasn’t memorable because of the opponent. It was memorable because of the home team, which put itself on the international map. And it will definitely make Pele, the proud ambassador of long football, a little more proud.