David Falk has followed soccer in the Puget Sound region since 1974. This blog covers Sounders FC, local college soccer, Seattle Wolves FC, Tacoma Tide FC and Kitsap Pumas. Send tips or comments to: goalseattle@gmail.com
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Seattle Soccer Examiner

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sounders Super Search Commercial (long version)

Here's a recently uploaded one-minute version of the Sounders Super Search commercial that is getting some buzz around the league. More soccer and more Seattle. Good things.

Five clubs, five questions for 2009: Seattle PDL

No local club is shrouded in more mystery right now than the Seattle Premier Development League (PDL) club set to debut in 2009. We learned about this new team when the United Soccer Leagues (USL) announced their 2009 PDL alignment. Along with the new club in Kitsap and the returning Tacoma Tide FC, the league threw the name of Seattle ('To be announced') into the Northwest Division.

Instantly the question became "who is starting this club?" Is it Seattle Wolves FC, who have just returned from the USL meetings with information about going 'pro' in 2010? Is it Seattle Sounders FC, who could use the club as a 'replacement' for a side in the just-closed MLS reserve league? Is it another group entirely?

Alas, we still don't know. However, I do have some hints that lead me to believe this new club will be run by Seattle Wolves FC. When asked about the new club, a person from the Sounders' side responded with "we've got enough to do building the parent club," while the Wolves said "No comment, but we'll have more to say on this very soon."

Five questions for Seattle PDL

1. Who owns you, and how will that affect your 2009 season?

If Seattle Wolves 'own' Seattle PDL, then it is a club destined to try for a higher league in the very near future. If Sounders FC 'own' Seattle PDL then it is a club destined to become a talented 'reserve side' for players to advance their craft and keep their edge.

2. Are you serious?

Will Seattle PDL be 'serious' about running a competitive club and trying to draw fan interest? Is that possible in Seattle at this level (USA 4th division)? Many years ago the USL Sounders had a 'Selects' side that played, and there was also the Seattle / Everett 'Bigfoot,' at basically the same level. The Sounders ended the Selects team when the finances became a drain. Not sure how/why the Bigfoot moved around and then folded.

If this new club is part of the Seattle Wolves, then it will be interesting to see how they juggle the commitment they've also made to play in the PCSL next summer.

Is it possible that this club will be *both* a Wolves club and a Sounders FC reserve side?

3. Will you be pro or amateur?

We are back to the ownership thing...or are we? It is possible that whomever owns and runs Seattle PDL the club could be 'pro' either way. The Sounders would want a pro side so they could slide players up and down from the parent roster. Seattle Wolves might also want to start pro in anticipation of 2010 and a leap to the USL-2.

4. Where will you get your players?

You'll need players, but you've got competition on all sides of Puget Sound. Kitsap Pumas are going to pay their players. Tacoma Tide FC will recruit college talent with amateur status. The PCSL Wolves will also have a roster of amateurs. If Seattle PDL goes 'pro' then that makes it all the tougher on Kitsap to sign players. If they go amateur, then Seattle college players might want to stay at home instead of fighting the traffic to Tacoma.

5. Will soccer fans warm-up to all of the possible rivalries?

Seattle PDL, you do know that you have a tremendous opportunity in 2009, don't you? You'll have rivals in Tacoma and Bremerton...but even more you'll suddenly be the 'placeholder' for the Emerald City in matches against the Vancouver Whitecaps (Residency) and Portland Timbers (U-23's). You'll be the local linchpin of "Cascadia Cup Jr." or something like that. Will that help you get some fans out to your games?

The mystery around Seattle PDL should start getting solved sometime in January. The PDL season kicks off May 1st.

Five clubs, five questions:
Kitsap Pumas
Tacoma Tide FC
Seattle Wolves FC (PCSL)

Next: Seattle Sounders FC

Upper deck tarps going in at Qwest Field

The much-anticipated upper deck tarps are going in at Qwest Field as the stadium prepares for the March 19 arrival of Sounders FC. Thanks to forum regular Knuckles for the shot!

(Click photo for larger view)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Five clubs, five questions for 2009: Seattle Wolves FC

Seattle Sounders FC weren't the only Seattle soccer club dropping big news and big surprises in 2008. Seattle Wolves FC began the year by jumping up to the Pacific Coast Soccer League (PCSL) and ended it with a public pledge to bring a second professional club to the Emerald City in 2010.

The Wolves' desire to join the national United Soccer Leagues Second Division was an eye-opener on at least two fronts. First, they'd be joining a league with only an east coast (and Bermuda) presence. Second, they'd be trying to sell soccer entertainment in the same town as Major League Soccer (MLS) Sounders FC.

In 2009 the Wolves look to be staying in the PCSL. The league website now lists them as a member for next campaign.

Five questions for Seattle Wolves FC

1. How will the Wolves use a second year in the PCSL to prepare for the pros in 2010?

This general question is really better addressed by dividing up club areas, which I've done in the questions below. You would think that 2009 in the PCSL would be all about getting ready for a possible huge jump to the professional ranks in 2010. It will be interesting to see how the Wolves make progress in several areas.

2. How will the Wolves improve their roster?

Right now the Wolves' roster is a combination of local high-level players, college talent as available, and former professionals. Will they use 2009 as a chance to connect with new talent and bring in players with an eye on 2010? Technical Director Alex Weaver seems to have the pedigree (Manchester United Schools) and connections to help the Wolves in this area.

3. How will the Wolves improve their fan experience?

The Wolves sold tickets to matches in 2009 and offered give-aways of jerseys and other drawings. Starfire Sports Complex was home, and more than a few times the club played in the main stadium. Will the Wolves secure the stadium for all matches in 2009? How else will they try to increase their fan base?

4. How will the Wolves improve their amount of exposure to the media?

It was a 15-year uphill battle to get constant coverage for the USL-1 Seattle Sounders. Entering the USL-2 does not automatically mean the Wolves will get increased media coverage. The Wolves understand soccer and the Seattle market, and seem to have a good vision of where they fit in. The club website is well-run, but they'll need to occasionally make the local papers to break through to a larger soccer audience.

5. How important is winning the PCSL crown?

The Wolves are winners. It is hard to imagine them 'taking the eye off the ball' by looking too far forward to 2010. Last year SWFC finished third in the PCSL regular season table and then made it to the Final before falling to Victoria United in the Sheila Anderson Memorial Challenge Cup. The Wolves would later claim the J.F. Kennedy Cup by beating the best clubs from Oregon and BC. On the pitch, winning a PCSL crown before promotion would be a great accomplishment. Off of the pitch it would be a nice selling-point highlighting the club's winning traditions.

Visit: www.SeattleWolvesFC.com

Five clubs, five questions:
Kitsap Pumas
Tacoma Tide FC

Next: The mysterious 2009 Seattle PDL side

Monday, December 29, 2008

YouSport: Seattle looks to impact 'the world's game' with new website

If you live in Seattle, but aren't originally from 'around here,' how could you combine Seattle technology with a worldly passion? That's the question being answered by the guys behind the new website YouSport.com, a user-based site that allows players and fans of soccer to connect via the sport.

It started this way, we are told by Peder Engelstad, YouSport's marketing director. "There are three founders: Ahmed from Egypt, Willy from France and David from the USA. It was during World Cup 2006. Ahmed broke his leg during a soccer tournament which allowed him to turn his focus entirely to the World Cup games. The more time he spent watching, the more he began to formulate the idea of a web-based soccer social-media platform for soccer."

The mission of the Seattle group is to "make YouSport a global social-media platform for soccer. Soccer fans will use it as a one stop shop for soccer information and media." Amateur soccer players will use YouSport to showcase their talent for coaches and the rest of the world," states Englestad. To further that mission the website recently launched two new features, 'Teams' and 'Players.' Hundreds of professional team and player pages have been created to enhance user experience. The pages are ready for user-generated content including blogs, news stories, photos, and videos.

The 'Teams' feature allows users to keep track of the latest developments regarding professional teams any league in any country. Users can upload videos, news, and photos or create personal blogs about clubs they support. When users select the 'Become a Fan' option, they are instantly connected to that team's supporters from around the world.

Why start a world-wide soccer web project in Seattle? "Considering the thousands of players in Seattle's amateur divisions," says Engelstad, "we think this city represents one of the soccer strongholds in this country. Seriously, Seattle is crazy for soccer! There are hundreds of fields, lots of pick-up games around town, and plenty of good competition in the amateur leagues. For the fans, there is a beautiful stadium for people to enjoy Sounders games in, plenty of pubs with 'footy' on TV, and a hardcore fan-base with groups like the Emerald City Supporters. People in Seattle, for the most part, 'get' soccer."

In addition to professional teams, YouSport offers a unique amateur team manager. The feature is designed to provide an easy and sensible way to manage one or more soccer teams. Currently available tools include photo and video uploading, schedules, rosters, and availability listings. With the team manager feature YouSport eliminates the headache of organizing a soccer team by making it simple to manage it all online.

Similar to 'Teams,' the 'Players' feature allows users to search for professional footballers on YouSport. Each player homepage contains links to the player's current club and national team in addition to all the content-generating tools associated with the teams feature.

With the website launched the developers have also been paying attention to another soccer launch happening in Seattle. "Since Washington is so gonzo for soccer, it was only a matter of time before we had an MLS team," Engelstad reports. "We think that, along with Toronto, the Sounders are going to be the best supported club in MLS in 2009. There is a higher level of excitement and dedication because the city believes not only in MLS but also, the idea of soccer (i.e. supporter's clubs, bringing in world-class signings, the season tickets selling out). That is a great jumping off point for a fledgling club."

For additional information on YouSport's features, contact Peder Engelstad or visit www.yousport.com.


YouSport, Inc. - Developed in 2007, YouSport is a global social-media community for soccer fans and players and enhanced through user-generated multimedia content.

Peder Engelstad, Marketing
YouSport, Inc.
(608) 322-6701

Ahmed El Bortoukaly, CEO
YouSport, Inc.
(206) 412-3816

Photo credits: Flickr.com users kurtasbestos (Green Lake soccer 'swamp') and Qwest Field by MLSSeattle

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Five clubs, five questions for 2009: Tacoma Tide FC

In the second installment of my "Five Questions" series I turn my attention to South Sound and the longest-operating same league high-level club in our region, Tacoma Tide FC. The Tide will be playing their fourth season in the PDL in 2009 with hopes of continuing their on-pitch rise while at the same time getting larger crowds.

No local club played more entertaining or winning soccer than Tacoma Tide FC did in 2008. The Tide won their first division trophy and also earned their first playoff win before falling to Vancouver in the regional final. Along the way TFC set records for goals and wins at home.

Five questions for Tacoma Tide FC

1. Can the Tide compete for the best local college players?

In 2006 when TFC was hastily born, after the demise of the Spokane Shadow, they struggled to get a squad together out of local elite college players. Since then the Tide have pretty much had the summers to themselves. They've seen star players from Washington (Raphael Cox, Steve Mohn, Beau Macaluso), Seattle University (Jordan Jennings, John Fishbaugher) and locals from out of state schools (Spencer Schomaker, Syracuse, Ciaran O'Brien, Santa Clara). Some very gifted players have worn the yellow over the years. In 2009 the Tide will see extreme competition for recruiting players as Seattle, Portland and Victoria join them in the PDL. Kitsap Pumas are also in, but have pledged to sign 'pro' players who have surrendered their NCAA eligibility.

Already one University of Washington star has committed to playing for Portland's U-23's. Freshman star forward Brent Richards will go south this summer. Brent lives in Camas, WA, which likely helped in his decision.

2. Can the Tide remain undefeated at home again?

The streak has to end eventually, but right now the Tide have not lost at home since July 14 of 2006. It is an impressive string that is up to 18 matches and includes a 2-2 draw with the USL Sounders in 2007. Tacoma didn't just win at home, they dominated in 2008 by outscoring opponents 36-5.

3. Where will 'home' be?

The Tide have played their first three seasons at Viking Field at Curtis High School in University Place, Tacoma. It's been a good venue for them, a small stadium with a no-hassle lease from a small school district. There is currently construction of a new Junior High next to the stadium, and it is unclear if that will affect usage of the stadium this summer.

4. Can they get a witness?

Tacoma Tide have played very exciting soccer with talented local stars, but have yet to capture much interest in South Sound. The fans have gotten increasingly noisy and supportive, but the numbers still remain at around 200+ average per match. I'm not sure if it is possible for a PDL squad to remain amateur and keep expenses down while at the same time drawing bigger crowds in Tacoma. The Tide have a nice business network through MVP Physical Therapy, and did a lot of work last year to increase awareness. Will it payoff in 2009?

5. Who will become Tacoma's biggest local rival?

The Tide's biggest rival right now is the Yakima Reds. This is likely to continue on into 2009 as Yakima made a miraculous 'back from the dead' recovery in late 2008 to find ownership to play again in 2009.

Now Tacoma have much more local flavor on the menu. Kitsap Pumas are just more than half an hour away over the Narrows Bridge in Bremerton. The mysterious yet-to-be-announced Seattle PDL club is a new I-5 rival. Victoria BC and Portland will also be on the schedule. So which one of these new clubs will develop into the fiercest rival for TFC? We've been starting a rivalry cup idea between the Tide and Kitsap, but that was before the sudden arrival of a Seattle club. Now it seems like any local PDL derby cup should include all three sides.

Visit: www.TacomaFC.com
Next: Seattle Wolves FC

Five clubs, five questions
Kitsap Pumas

Vote for the biggest Sounders FC news of 2008

In a year filled with big announcements, what do you think was the biggest news of all coming from Sounders FC?

VOTE for your choice in the forums!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Five clubs, five questions for 2009: Kitsap Pumas

The Puget Sound region will see more high level soccer than ever before in 2009. "The Sound of Soccer" will be bursting with elite-level clubs starting with Sounders FC in Major League Soccer, and continuing on with Tacoma Tide FC, Kitsap Pumas, and the yet-to-be-named Seattle club in Premier Development League. Our fifth club will be Seattle Wolves FC in the PCSL.

Sounders FC will have a roster of full professionals. Kitsap Pumas will pay their players and seek up and coming pros. Tacoma Tide FC will rely on elite college players who are in their schools' off-seasons. Seattle Wolves will look to former pros, college stars and local high-level players.

Over the next few days I'll be asking five questions about each club and then commenting on the questions. The anticipation is for building for 2009 and for a soccer-flooded summer around the Sound.

Five questions for Kitsap Pumas

After years of looking in to bringing the USL Seattle Sounders to West Sound, Bremerton ends up with a Premier Development League (PDL) club that has Sounders roots from owner Robin Waite. The Pumas have big goals, including moving up higher in the United Soccer Leagues division scheme, and hosting pre-season tournaments. Here are five questions about the Pumas that I'll be watching to be answered in their debut campaign.

1. Will Bremerton and West Sound support pro soccer?

Season ticket sales are apparently going well, and the ticket prices of $10-$8-$5 can't be beat. In the Northwest Division of the PDL attendance averages have quite a range from 90 to 400 or more per match. Kitsap's higher ambitions also mean the club wants much bigger numbers than that in the stands. Will it happen?

2. Will some 2008 USL Sounders migrate to this new team?

After the dust finally clears from Sounders FC training camp, I wonder if some local Sounders will consider coming over to Bremerton to play this summer. The money won't be great, but it could supplement youth coaching salaries.

3. How will Memorial Stadium work for pro soccer?

The Pumas will be the only club of the five (that we know of) who will play on a grass pitch at home. It is well-kept and thick. The field is very narrow and long, though. There are also neighborhood issues involving parking, which seem ready to be solved. The old place will also need some paint and polish before kick off.

4. How well will West Sound media cover the club?

The Kitsap Sun has covered the Pumas pretty well so far. Local weekly papers from Poulsbo to Port Orchard have also run numerous stories. Kitsap has a local radio outlet, and a Comcast cable channel (BKAT) for local shows. There has been some talk that the Kitsap Sun may work with the Pumas to stream matches online.

5. Will Pumas be competitive in their first season?

The Pumas will have the advantage of being able to pay their players and thus also being able to bring guys in who have professional experience. In 2008 the only 'pro' club in the PDL NW were the Vancouver Whitecaps Residency. Vancouver finished second to the first-place, all-college / amateur Tacoma Tide. Vancouver beat Tacoma in the playoffs. The Pumas will also have the advantage of practicing while college players are still with their schools.

Visit: www.KitsapSoccerClub.com

NEXT: Five questions about Tacoma Tide FC.

Friday, December 26, 2008

2008 USA Men's soccer video highlights

Here's to our 'Nats,' and hoping the journey to South Africa 2010 keeps rolling along for the red, white and blue.
Watch highlights from 2008 matches below.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The year in Seattle soccer: goodbye Sounders, hello Sounders FC

I've given the duty of debuting my 2008 Year in Seattle Soccer article to my Examiner.com blog. You can read my look back at 2008 here.

It's too early to tell how 2008 will be remembered by Seattle soccer fans years from now. For Sounders followers I'm guessing it will be more for the big moves by the "FC" than for the club that finished 10-10-10 in its final USL campaign.

The permanent home of the 2008 review is in the 2008 Sounders Museum page.

Also check out: Tacoma News Tribune's 'Sounders checklist.'

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sigi Schmid's Media Appearances

Sigi Schmid has been getting around since being named Sounders FC head coach. He began with the live announcement on Fox Sports Northwest, then made an appearance on Northwest Sports Tonight on NWCN. Next it was a half-hour special on FSN called "In My Own Words," and finally a nationally televised visit on Fox Soccer Channel's Football Fone-In show. Here's just under seven minutes of highlights from those appearances.

Sounders Super Search Commercial

Now airing on King 5 TV and Kong 6/16. Cool to see the soccer ball bouncing around so many Seattle landmarks.

New-look ball for USL in 2009

Tacoma Tide, Kitsap Pumas and the new Seattle PDL club will be kicking around a new ball next season.

USL News Release

TAMPA, FL – United Soccer Leagues unveiled that the UMBRO DYNAMIS LSR Pro-USL, the most technically advanced ball ever produced, is the new official match ball for the 2009 season. The ball, the same model used by the English FA Cup and the national teams of England, Ireland, Sweden and Norway, will feature the USL shield and make its debut April 11 when the USL First Division begins play.

The match ball will be used by the 125 professional and amateur clubs set to compete in the USL First Division, USL Second Division, USL Premier Development League and USL W-League as well as for other USL competitions and events such as the USL Super-20 League and USL Super Y-League North American Finals.

“The ball’s 20-panel construction is fundamental to an outstanding performance and is sure to enhance the players’ game,” said USL/UMBRO Services Manager Paolo Acquista. “This upcoming season USL players at every level will be using the most innovative soccer ball in today’s market. Being the oldest and truest to one sport brand, UMBRO continues to innovate and perfect soccer products for today’s player.”

The ball underwent development for two years and has undergone rigorous testing in both science laboratories and on football pitches by professional players from clubs across the UK. These tests have resulted in the proof that a new 20-panel configuration is faster than the more traditional 32-panel ball thanks to the reduced curving that the new design provides.

Other product innovations include a new exclusive Teijin micro fibre material providing players with a super soft touch and increased power through greater elasticity and stretch. The DYNAMIS is also the first football to use new Tri-Ply bladder technology, designed around the premise of increasing the power and accuracy of any strike of the ball.

The laser cut detailing aids in the ball’s aerodynamic performance and the grooved LSR cut it tailored to a pre set optimum depth for flight performance and provides greater grip when caught.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Seattle Sounders from the top: 1977

It has been over 31 years since the fairytale 1977 season for the North American Soccer League Sounders, but fans will never forget that 'first time.' All these years later the playoff wins and advancement to "Soccer Bowl '77" remain carved into Sounders' fans' psyches.

Seattle were a club that struggled all regular season and finished only 14-12 then shot through the playoffs by beating Vancouver, Minnesota and Los Angeles and arriving at Portland's Civic Stadium to play Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, Giorgio Chinaglia and the New York Cosmos in the Championship Final.

In a heartbreaking match Seattle fell to New York 2-1. The Sounders hit the post in the final minutes and also had a goal called back. Further adding to the lore was Seattle goalkeeper Tony Chursky's gaffe that gave New York a stunning strike.

Thousands of Sounders fans traveled to Portland for the match and outnumbered the New Yorkers and the Portland fans who were cheering for the Cosmos.

Catch up: 1974 1975 1976

Only four years after beginning life in little Memorial Stadium the Sounders played a conference final before over 56,000 fans in the Kingdome and edged LA 1-0 on a goal by Jockey Scott to reach Soccer Bowl.

Another famous moment came early in the season when the Sounders were struggling so much that head coach Jimmy Gabriel un-retired along with assistant Bobby Howe. Both took the pitch as Seattle players and inspired the club to a 3-2 win over Portland before over 25,000 fans in the Kingdome. That's how it's done, boys!

What stands out most for you about 1977? Have you forgiven Chursky yet? He did make several goal-saving plays in the match on either side of his historic blunder. It's hard not to look back on 1977 with both a sense of fondness and a twinge of melancholy over what could have been in the Final, and how much the Sounders of those days meant to the City of Seattle.

Visit our extensive 1977 Museum page.
Visit our NEW 1977 scrapbook!

Photo credit: The Sounders celebrate their 1977 Soccer Bowl goal. (Jenni Conner)
Conference Champions / Soccer Bowl '77 ring. (Ebay photo)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Schmid tabs Schmetzer as 1st Assistant Coach

Head coach Sigi Schmid has tabbed Seattle native Brian Schmetzer to be his first assistant coach in a move that ties the North American Soccer League Sounders and the United Soccer Leagues Sounders together with Sounders FC of Major League Soccer.

“I’m excited to work with Brian,” said Schmid, who became head coach Dec. 16. “He brings great
knowledge of the Seattle area, the history of the USL-1 Sounders, and a wealth of coaching experience. That, coupled with his past playing experience, makes him the ideal assistant coach.”

Schmetzer has nine years of experience coaching and 15 years of playing at the professional level. He was a member of six championship teams during that span.

"It's been a pretty easy transition," Schmetzer told the P-I in regards to becoming Schmid's assistant after being a head coach for seven seasons. "Both of us are German, so we get along great," he said. "We both are good guys. That's the best way I can put it. His ego is not very large. My ego is not very large. The more I talk to Sigi, the more similarities I find between his style and my style."

Slide Show: A few photos of Schmetzer over the years
Flashback: Read about Schmetzer the Sounders player, circa 1983

“Having been born and raised in Seattle, and having lived most of my life here, I love this city and I couldn’t have scripted a more perfect career path,” said Schmetzer. “I feel lucky, first to have been chosen to coach the USL Sounders, then to be considered along with Sigi and some other outstanding candidates for the MLS head coaching job. Now, I’m working with a great coach in Sigi, in my home city for what is rapidly becoming the best club in the business. It seems everything is falling into place.”

Read the entire press release in PDF format here.

Photo credit: Brian Schmetzer talks with a Sounders recruit at 2008 Media Day. (David Falk)

Sigi Schmid on Fox Soccer Channel phone-in show tonight

Seattle Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid is back home in Los Angeles but not quite ready to take a complete break from soccer. Sigi will be a guest on Fox Soccer Channel's "Fox Football Fone-In" show tonight starting at 5:00 PM Seattle Time and then re-broadcast again beginning at 8 PM.

From their website: Hosted by Fox Soccer Channel's Nick Webster and World Soccer Daily's Steven Cohen, this dynamic two-hour live call-in program gives U.S. soccer fans the opportunity to have their say on television every Monday. Although the Premiership is the hot topic, Major League Soccer, the European leagues and current events in the soccer world are also covered on Fox Football Fone-In. Set in a radio-style studio, everything on Fox Football Fone-In is up for discussion, and no soccer subject is taboo!

Photo credit: Joe Armand.

College Round-up: Huskies invited to MLS Combine

There is news coming from the University of Washington Men's soccer program. George John and Raphael Cox have been invited to the MLS scouting combine in January (see complete list here). John recently won the Pac-10's Soccer Scholar Athlete of the Year award. Former Huskies Craig Waibel, Mike Chabala and Ely Allen (all in Major League Soccer) will participate in the Husky Winter Soccer Camp December 26-28.

The Seattle Pacific University Falcons Women have gear out now to celebrate their national championship.
The Falcon Men and Women are getting ready for their Winter Break Camp for boys and girls December 29-31.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My top 5 favorite in-person matches of 2008

I am not going to do too many year-end lists, but I thought I would post the favorite five matches I attended in person in 2008. What do I mean by 'favorite?' The matches I enjoyed most for what happened on the pitch.

It was not a great year to be a United Soccer Leagues Sounders fan, and they do not top my list.

5. Tacoma Tide-4 Vancouver Whitecaps Residency-0, June 7, 2008, Curtis High School Field. The newly-created Vancouver Whitecaps Residency club came in to Curtis High School never having lost a match and boasting a handful of players from the USL-1 Whitecaps roster. Tacoma Tide FC were not impressed, but they were impressive. Blog flashback.

4. Sounders-2 Montreal Impact-1, USL Playoffs September 26, 2008, Starfire Sports Stadium. The Sounders could have and should have won by more than a goal on this night, and in the end it cost them in the series. As the last home match ever played by the USL club, it was a bittersweet affair in which we proudly went out winners at home. Blog flashback.

3. Sounders-1 Kansas City Wizards-0, July 8, 2008, Qwest Field. The Sounders played their best soccer in the United States Open Cup, including this overtime penalty kick thriller that advanced Seattle to the semifinals for the second straight year. Blog flashback.

2. Brazil-3 Canada-2, Qwest Field, May 31, 2008. It was a far closer match than anyone had expected, and the Canadians battled all the way with Brazil before falling late before 47,000 fans at Qwest Field. Blog flashback.

1. Tacoma Tide FC-6 Yakima Reds-2, July 19, 2008, Curtis High School Stadium. It was all-or-nothing, the winner making the playoffs and the loser going home. On a beautiful sun-baked night Tacoma Tide FC did what you always hope the home team will do---but they so rarely do---come up big in a big match. The Reds and the Tide have a nice rivalry building, and I actually got some kind of friendly 'stick' from the Reds' players wives and owners who traveled to the match. It got louder when the Reds went up early, 1-0. Junior Garcia, who would be named Most Valubale Player for the entire 70-club Premier Development League (PDL) continued his goal-scoring ways.

Tacoma soon drew level and eventually took the lead before halftime. The boys in yellow came at Yakima in wave after wave, thrilling the biggest home Tacoma crowd of the year, many of whom had brought drums and 'clackers' in support of the Tide. It was 2-1, then 3, then 4 before the Reds could get their second. Tacoma finished off the match with two more strikes to post an amazing 6-2 victory that qualified the Tide for the post season for the second straight year. Later that night Tide fans and players learned that Vancouver Whitecaps Residency had been upset 1-0 by Ogden Outlaws. Tacoma Tide FC had thus won their first-ever Northwest Division crown. Blog flashback.

Photo credit: Tide celebrate a goal against Yakima on July 19. Jenni Conner

Seattle Sounders FC photo archives growing

GOALSeattle.com's archive of Seattle Sounders FC photos continues to grow. We have yet to play a match, but we've got numerous galleries built off of shots from myself, Jenni Conner and Joe Armand, among others, dating all the way back to the announcement of Seattle being awarded an MLS franchise.

Today we added a Joe Armand & fans gallery of big events from 2008 and a scrapbook that includes many crest and uniform ideas posted by Sounders fans around the internet.

Visit our photo archives.
Download a Sounders FC wallpaper for your desktop.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sounders FC's Khano Smith talks with Futbolr TV

from their blog.

Smith talks about the move to Seattle about 3 minutes in. He says New England left him unprotected because his contract with the Revs was expiring in December. "Seattle made it worth my while," he states. The interviewer rips on the rave green, but at least says we are 'trying to be original.'

Kitsap Soccer Club Launches Official Website

Pumas press release:

Bremerton, Wash. – The Kitsap Soccer Club today launched its official website offering fans and partners the direct opportunity to purchase tickets, follow club developments, track player and coach signings and contact the club.

The address of the site is www.kitsapsoccerclub.com.

The site is the collaborative effort of club leadership, the staff at Silverdale, Washington's Sungrafx - the club's design team - and Demosphere, Inc., the nation's leading provider of web-based administrative tools for soccer clubs and other sports organizations.

"We encourage everyone to visit regularly, for as we build this franchise, there will be a steady stream of important announcements," said owner Robin Waite. "We are quite happy with how the site turned out."

"The site has a great look and feel but its functionality is what makes it such a great tool for the fans and the club," said the club's executive director, Ben Pecora. "We view the site as an extra staff member."

The Kitsap Soccer Club Pumas represent the transfer of the United Soccer League's former Division I Seattle Sounders, becoming the first-ever, fully professional sports franchise on the Kitsap Peninsula.

For further information, please contact Ben Pecora, Executive Director, at 360-377-6008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ljungberg Undergoes Hip Surgery

Sounders FC press release:

RENTON, WASH. – Seattle Sounders FC midfielder Freddie Ljungberg underwent surgery to repair a hip condition, the club announced today.

Ljungberg’s surgery was performed by world-renowned surgeon Dr. Marc Philippon of the Steadman Hawkins Clinic in Vail, Colorado. The player is expected to make a full recovery and his projected return to training is 10-12 weeks.

“Freddie Ljungberg is a player that we value for the long term,” said Sounders FC General Manager Adrian Hanauer. “As Freddie increased his training regimen for the upcoming season, we wanted to make sure that he was firing on all cylinders for the next two years and beyond.”

“As he increased his training intensity, he suffered a mild re-occurrence of the hamstring problems that have occasionally hampered him over the past two years,” said Hanauer. “At that point, Freddie and the club wanted to be proactive and we decided to have him see the best hip and hamstring specialists in the country.

“It was ultimately determined that the best course of action was to repair a slightly torn labrum, and to shave a very small amount of bone where the hip meets the femur. The objective of this surgery is to eliminate the nagging injuries and to ensure that Freddie has the explosiveness necessary to be a major contributor for Sounders FC every time he steps on the pitch.”

Sounders FC will open training camp January 21. The Major League Soccer season opener is March 19 against the New York Red Bulls at Qwest Field.

Important early progress for Sounders FC with local media

The signs are good, and for now, that's enough. Signs that mainstream Seattle media will initially embrace Sounders FC are bubbling up around Puget Sound.

If the Sounders weren't a soccer club, but one from the NFL, MLB, NBA or NHL then extended coverage in Seattle sports papers would just be assumed. Even in soccer-loving Seattle, though, the professional sport has been a niche affair, and even within that niche has been all but dormant for decades.

Now with over 18,000 season tickets sold and Sounders FC hammering away with one big signing or announcement after another, it appears media are taking notice, and in return providing coverage that could bring the club to the sports community at large.

The words "pro soccer" and "Art Thiel" are not ones you'll normally see beside each other in a complimentary way. The P-I columnist wrote very skeptically on the day of the announcement of Seattle getting an MLS franchise. Here's Thiel recently on KPLU radio talking about Sounders FC. He's talking more about opportunities and less about failure.

Here's the Seattle P-I commenting in a story about Kevin Calabro: Seattle fans do have the opportunity to welcome Sounders FC; they have with 18,000 season-ticket packages, making it the biggest sports debut since the Mariners' arrival in 1977.

The Seattle Times has set Jose Romero loose with his own Sounders blog, and he's been posting often. The paper also had a print-edition spread on the Sigi Schmid signing that covered much of the sports section's front page. Stories appear regularly now in the Tacoma News Tribune and in Don Ruiz' blog for the TNT.

We are gaining a precious first foothold. Sounders fans are noticing.

Photo credit: Seattle Times website capture by Danimal.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

W-League Sounders kept afloat by Tacoma Tide owner Jennings

A few days ago when the United Soccer Leagues W-League (Women's League) announced their 2009 alignment local fans were surprised but happy to see that the club called "Seattle Sounders" was returning despite the previous owners and 'angel investors' going on to Major League Soccer with Sounders FC.

Don Ruiz has uncovered the riddle of how the women are returning, and it has a surprise twist. Mike Jennings, owner of Tacoma Tide FC, has bought the club to keep it going.

“After the Tide’s inaugural season in 2006 I have thought seriously about adding a W-League team under the Tacoma Football Club banner,” Jennings said in a press release. “Just as with the men, there are many capable and talented women who are in need of quality training and competition through the summer months.”

Ruiz reports the club may alter its name to fit into the Tide family, but will still call Starfire Sports Complex home.

Tukwila Tide, anyone?

Here's the full press release.
Here's the league release from USLsoccer.com

Photo credit: Rick Morrison, 2008.

Seattle Soccer Show talks with Schmid, Hanauer, Henderson & Schmetzer

The latest Seattle Soccer Show episode covers Sounders FC's signing of Sigi Schmid and what comes next. General Manager Adrian Hanauer is prompted about players, but only reveals that the club have submitted their Discovery List to MLS (ten names) and that the list is a mix of USL Sounders, other USL players and internationals. The club are now free to begin negotiations with the players on the list.
Saying the right thing: Schmid talks a bit about the history of the Sounders and puts out the welcome mat for those involved in Sounders history, on and off the pitch, to follow the new club.

Listen: Direct audio link to 12.17.08 Seattle Soccer Show

Sigi has big decisions early on for Sounders

Sigi Schmid has been head coach of Sounders FC all of two days, but already talk is moving towards whom he'll bring on as assistant coaches. Don Ruiz has some good fodder for talk in today's News Tribune.

It seems very likely that Schmid will continue the Sounders FC early tradition of 'getting things right' by hiring Brian Schmetzer to help him with his new club. Beyond the notion that it would be a nice gesture for the Seattle soccer community is the fact that Schmetzer (USL Sounders coach 2002-2008) has already had a big hand in putting together the roster. Then there is Brian's record as a winner at the USL-1 level and his many connections to local and national soccer.

Schmetzer said he would have no problem returning to an assistant’s role, which he previously held with the indoor Stars and Seattle SeaDogs," writes Ruiz.

He also wants to remain in Seattle. And he is uniquely qualified to provide information on the former USL Sounders players expected to get their chances to make the expansion Sounders’ roster.

“Sigi and I have already talked about the potential for some of the USL guys to come into camp and get extended looks during preseason,” Schmetzer said. “I’ve tried to give him some of the insights that I’ve acquired over the last seven years. Both (general manager Adrian Hanauer) and I feel that those players are important.

The early big decisions don't end with coaching choices. It has been widely reported that tomorrow Columbian striker sensation Freddy Montero will be meeting with his agent and the owners of his 'rights' to decide his next move. He's leaving Deportivo Cali, but for where? Scant reports and further rumors have suggested that Sounders FC own the majority of the player's rights. In recent days it has been reported that Real Betis are interested in Montero, as are several Argentine clubs.

It is good news for Seattle fans then that Sigi seems aware and ready to pounce if the opportunity arises. At least that is certainly one way to look at his comments in Jose Romero's Seattle Times blog the other day:

Schmid was asked if he had any Latino players in mind. "There's definitely ideas on some players that we have in mind," he said. "For me, players like that, I brought Carlos Ruiz to the league, I brought Guillermo Schelotto to the league, Alejandro Moreno probably had his best years for me in L.A. and now in Columbus, I'm always looking for talented players...there's a couple of guys that we actually have in our mind right now."

Listen: Glenn Davis talks with Kasey Keller about the 2009 Sounders
Listen: KJR's Groz and Gas talk with Sigi Schmid

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Kitsap Pumas place ads, season tickets for sale online

It's always nice to see when a soccer club is willing to put a little money behind getting the word out about their club.

We do our part at GOALSeattle but in the end it is up to our clubs, both big and not so big, to make themselves known within their local communities.

Sounders FC are big soccer news all over Puget Sound, including in Bremerton where the Kitsap Pumas will kick of in 2009.

The Pumas are running ads in local West Sound newspapers announcing season tickets are on sale and that they'd make good gifts.

True enough. If you know a soccer fan in West Sound, you should think about going to the Pumas' website and ordering up a season ticket or two. The real thing on real grass awaits them.

You could be like me, pondering the upcoming schedules for Seattle and Kitsap and trying to do both.

United Soccer Leagues officially announce Kitsap Pumas to PDL

USL News Release

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

TAMPA, FL -- United Soccer Leagues announced the launch of the Kitsap Pumas under the ownership of former USL First Division Seattle Sounders co-owner Robin Waite. The team will play in the Premier Development League with professional status beginning in 2009, making it the first professional sports franchise in the area.

Waite will operate the club, created via a transfer of franchise rights from the former Sounders team, on the Kitsap peninsula, a prominent population base in the Puget Sound region across from Seattle, Washington. Centrally located in downtown Bremerton, Wash., the club will play its matches on the pristine grass of Bremerton Memorial HS Stadium. Bremerton is the largest city on the peninsula, housing the massive Bremerton Memorial Shipyard.

The club, following a “Name the Team” contest last month, will feature the nickname of Pumas. Team colors are blue, gold, white and black. The team mascot was affectionately named “Pedro” by local soccer fans.

“We are proud to bring the Kitsap Soccer Club Pumas – the first-ever fully professional sports franchise on the Kitsap Peninsula – to soccer fans in the region,” said Waite. “This has been over a decade in the making – and we could not be more thrilled about the response of the community already.”

USL’s PDL is part of the United States Soccer Federation’s pyramid representing the fourth tier of the pyramid. The club has been placed in the Northwest division and will face clubs from Vancouver B.C., Victoria B.C., Abbottsford, B.C., Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane, Yakima, Salem and Portland, Oregon.

Memorial Stadium Improvements
Another important aspect about the club’s presence will be in improvements the club is making at the stadium itself. Waite, as a donation to the Bremerton School District, has installed a new scoreboard and will further contribute a video scoreboard, additional bleacher seating and other improvements over the term of the club’s three-year lease agreement. The video scoreboard will be the only one of it’s kind in the Puget Sound region – a true asset for the community – and not just relating to sports-specific uses.

Impact in the Community
Club leadership firmly believes that the presence of the Pumas in Kitsap will generate significant incremental revenues and awareness – not only on behalf of team partners, but also for the community and population itself.

Fans welcome Coach Sigi at FX McRory's; Lots of press

Sounders fans met new head coach Sigi Schmid in person last night at FX MCRory's. Here is a report from the Emerald City Supporters at www.WeAreECS.com.

Dave Clark was also on hand and reports back to fans from www.SounderatHeart.com.

The day after Schmid's introduction reports are still filtering in. In This morning's P-I the headline is "Schmid moved by Seattle family ties." Art Thiel of the P-I editorializes with "Sounders started at top for this hire." In the Tacoma News Tribune it's "Seriously, Schmid wants Sounders, fans to have fun." Don Ruiz writes that the "Sounders snag MLS coach of the year." In the Everett Herald the words lead with "Henderson: Sounders found perfect fit." GOAL.com tries to bring Seattle fans back down to Earth with "Great Expectations." Jose Romero in the Seattle Times adds in more with "Sounders coach Sigi Schmid brings championship experience to new club." Steve Kelley of the Times has an opinion piece that reads "Seattle Sounders strike gold in getting Sigi Schmid as coach." Soccer America has more today with "Seattle and Schmid officially join up."

Audio Interview: Schmid on KJR AM Sportsradio

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

An emotional Schmid takes the helm of Sounders FC

Sigi Schmid was announced as the first-ever head coach of expansion club Seattle Sounders FC at a press conference today at Seattle's Qwest Field.

Early on Schmid was overcome by emotion as he talked about being closer to his younger brother who lives in the area. Less than two minutes in to his address of the media Schmid took a breather and gathered himself as tears flowed. Sigi helped raise his brother Roland after their mother died when Sigi was 23 and his brother was 13. Directly from that emotional moment Schmid pulled together the strands of the two previous Sounders clubs when he mentioned both longtime NASL Sounder Jimmy Gabriel and later during questions also USL Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer. Schmid quoted Gabriel as saying soccer needs to be 'serious fun' to build a successful team. Schmid spoke highly of Schmetzer and hinted that he'll be a likely candidate for an assistant.

Sigi's emotional moments strengthened his human side and he then rose from there to articulate his soccer passion as well as his strategic strengths. “There are many reasons for me wanting to come to Seattle,” said Schmid. “First, I feel very comfortable working with our management team, with Joe, Adrian and Chris. I believe we all want to play an entertaining, successful brand of soccer, and to make this a world-class club. Everything I’ve seen and heard since I interviewed here shows this franchise has backed-up their pledge to the fans to make this a very, very special team. I’m excited to be part of that. I couldn’t ask for a better situation, a better challenge for me at this point in my life. This job was attractive to me because this franchise is doing everything at a level of the highest quality.”

Sounders FC General Manager Adrian Hanauer introduced Schmid at the start of the press conference. “Clearly, Sigi is a winner, and there are many reasons why success follows him,” said Hanauer. “He has a keen eye for talent and a knack for fitting those talents together to make an even stronger group. Players want to play for him. He creates an intense and competitive training environment. He’s demanding and inspiring. He communicates well with his players, he enables them to develop and gets the most out of his squad. He maximizes his players’ abilities. We have passionate supporters and players, and now we have a passionate coach.”

Here is Schmid's emotional opening statement as the first-ever head coach of Sounders FC:

“Thanks very much. I’m excited. When I look at this turnout, and I see all these cameras and all these people here, I know without a doubt I’ve made the right decision to come here. The gentleman up here with me, Tod (Leiweke) and Adrian (Hanauer) and Chris (Henderson) obviously played a very important role in attracting my attention here. To go with Adrian’s comment about wearing ties, I’m not one who wears ties very often either, and if you see me in a tie very often that means I’m not doing my job on the field. So hopefully you won’t see me in one often.

And knowing Chris for 20 years, you can all agree, he’s aged a lot better than I have. He looks much younger still than I do. To be the first coach of this franchise, in my visit up here to see what this club is doing behind the scenes: the organization, the structure, the commitment to the community and the commitment to the sport of soccer is beyond what’s happening anywhere in this entire country. That’s something that I was very excited to be associated with. It helps me certainly to be close to my brother. We’ve been apart for a long time. (Pause)

As you can tell, I’m an emotional guy. For me, I’ve had some great experiences in this sport and I’d never trade any of the past experiences for what I’m about to encounter. It means a lot to me. It means a lot to me. And to hear the words that these gentlemen have said, it means a lot to me to be here now in this city. My whole goal is to win games. But you can’t win games without great players. I’ve never been a coach that believes that I’m the solution, or I’m the answer. All that I am is a conduit to try and create an environment that allows the athletes that I’ve been blessed with to coach to perform, and to perform at the best of their abilities on the field.

If I can get the most out of each individual that plays for me, winning will take care of itself, and that’s the philosophy that I’ve always had. There’s a gentleman in this room who was a part of the original Sounders by the name of Jimmy Gabriel. And he said something to me a long time ago that has always stuck with me. And he said, ‘soccer can’t be fun, fun, and it can’t be serious, serious. It’s got to be serious fun.’ So, I’m telling you right now, in these years ahead we’re going to have some serious fun. And I’m very happy to be here in Seattle.”

We'll be updating this entry with links and more quotes as they come online.
Photos courtesy of SoundersFC.com

More coverage:
Video: King 5 News
Seattle Times: Sounders introduce new coach, Sigi Schmid
Seattle P-I: Sounders introduce Schmid as coach
SoundersFC.com: Sigi Schmid named first coach of Sounders FC
ProstAmerika.com: Mr. Schmid (finally) comes to Washington
Seattle Times: More from the announcement

Monday, December 15, 2008

Coach announcement live on TV and internet

The Sounders FC press conference to announce the club's first-ever head coach will be carried live on Fox Sports Northwest and streamed over the internet at SoundersFC.com.

The announcement is scheduled for 11:00 AM Seattle time Tuesday, December 16th. More from today's Seattle Times. From SoccerAmerica.com: Schmid and Seattle finally team up.

Sigi Schmid announced as Sounders' coach Tuesday

Gary Washburn reports in the Seattle P-I that Sigi Schmid will be announced as Sounders FC's first head coach Tuesday December 16 at an 11:00 AM PST press conference at Qwest Field. The club has emailed fans with an invitation to meet the new coach the same day at 6:00 PM at FX McRory's.

The signing will end the recent saga involving the Sounders, Columbus Crew and Schmid over contract issues.

Schmid is the hottest property in MLS coaching today having completed the 2008 season with Columbus Crew by winning the Coach of the Year award and guiding the Crew to both the regular season title and MLS Cup Championship.

Over his career as a youth, national youth, college and professional coach Schmid has been a winner and often a champion. Sigi won three national championships as coach of the UCLA Bruins. He won two regular season titles with the LA Galaxy along with a US Open Cup and an MLS Cup crown.

Schmid's record is well-respected in American soccer circles. He shows up to scout and support numerous tournaments at all levels. He has participated in a DVD on tactics for offensive soccer. He's been a player and a coach during the huge rise of youth soccer in the country.

Schmid is sensitive to claims that his clubs play defensive-minded soccer. "The only thing that bothers me." Schmid told the LA Times about his firing by the Galaxy, "was the insinuation at the time that we didn't play attractive enough soccer, that we weren't offensive enough. That moniker was sort of hung on me, and that bothers me because at the time we were the highest-scoring team in the league. We play good defense so that we can play good offense. You've got to have the ball in order to attack. If you don't play good defense, you're not going to get the ball."

The video below features Schmid being interviewed (via phone) after being awarded 2008 Coach of the Year honors.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Seattle Sounders from the top: 1976

58,000 fans pack the Kingdome for the Sounders-Cosmos match in April 1976.

I am looking back at the history of clubs called "Seattle Sounders" while at the same time adding and rebuilding galleries in the GOALSeattle Museum. With 1974 and 1975 behind us, we now move to the Kingdome with the 1976 Seattle Sounders.

Memorial Stadium had been a great home for the original club but when the Kingdome opened in 1976 it was better in terms of fan facilities, concessions and parking. The Astroturf was new, too. So the Sounders moved south and joined the first-year Seahawks in the great cement palace.

The Sounders opened the Kingdome just like the USL Sounders opened Qwest Field. 58,000 fans came to the Dome in April to see Pele and the Cosmos in a pre-season exhibition New York would win, 3-1.

The club went 14-10 in the regular season and then got their first playoff win in a dramatic 1-0 overtime victory over Vancouver Whitecaps before 30,000 fans at the Kingdome. The goal was scored by famous English player Geoff Hurst. Seattle lost in the next round to Minnesota. Hurst ended with 9 total goals. Scotsman Gordon Wallace led the Sounders with 10 strikes.The Kingdome hosted the 1976 NASL "Soccer Bowl" Final that saw 30,000 fans watch Toronto beat Minnesota 3-0.

Here's the new 1976 Seattle Sounders scrapbook gallery, with much more in the 1976 Museum page.

In 1976 the Sounders issued a "Yearbook," and we've got most of the pages scanned here.

Husky leads USA over China; Sounders eye Alonso

The United States Women's National Team beat China 1-0 yesterday on a goal from Huskies graduate Tina Ellertson. Ellertson, whose name was Tina Frimpong during her college career, usually is a defender on the national team. But the 26-year-old from Vancouver, Wash., made her first start as a forward for the United States and scored in the 61st minute."I haven't scored in four years; it means the world to me."

Seattle Sounders FC were due to submit their ten 'discovery player' names to Major League Soccer offices this month. The list would give Seattle first-chance to sign the named guys. Speculation about the names has included Sounders from the 2008 USL club and also players from around the USL. The Seattle Times quotes Adrian Hanauer as liking Osvaldo Alonso of Charleston Battery. "We've always liked Osvaldo. We saw Osvaldo many times last season (in USL play for Charleston). Yeah, he's a player we like."

Photo credit:
2008 US Open Cup Final. Osvaldo Alonso (red kit, at left) battles DC United's Santino Quaranta. DC United 2008 Flickr photo stream.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Seattle Times: Sounders settle dispute with Crew

Jose Romero adds to recent reports clearing the way for Sounders FC to sign Sigi Schmid.

Seattle sent allocation money — additional funds outside of the league salary cap each MLS team is given in order to help them sign players — and an undisclosed cash amount to Columbus in exchange for the Crew releasing Schmid from a noncompete clause in Schmid's contract that expired at the end of last month.

"We felt like it was best to just settle this thing," Sounders FC general manager Adrian Hanauer said. "We wanted to get this thing settled and hopefully sign the best coach in MLS.

"We are in the late stages of negotiating with Sigi."

Romero also reports that Nate Jaqua visited Seattle this week:

"I'm excited with the way they're running everything," he said. "Here they're really trying to take their time and do it right."

Jaqua confirmed that there was an agreement in place between Houston and Seattle that had the Dynamo signing Jaqua for the second half of last season in exchange for Houston agreeing to leave Jaqua unprotected in the expansion draft so Seattle could select him.

"Nate's as close to a lock [to make the team] as there is," Hanauer said.

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