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For other teams that have used this name, see Seattle Sounders and Seattle Sounders .


Seattle Sounders FC is an American professional soccer team based in Seattle, Washingtonmarker, that participates in Major League Soccer (MLS). It was established in November 2007 as an MLS expansion team. The following year, fans chose the Sounders name through an online poll, making the Seattle Sounders FC the third Seattle soccer team to share the moniker.

The Sounders FC majority owner is Hollywood producer Joe Roth, with minority owners Adrian Hanauer, Paul Allen, and comedian Drew Carey. Two time MLS Cup winner Sigi Schmid is the team's head coach. Sounders FC home matches are played at Qwest Fieldmarker. Along with several organized groups, a 52-member marching band called the Sound Wave supports the team at each home game. Former Seattle SuperSonics announcer Kevin Calabro calls the play-by-play for local Sounders FC broadcasts. Seattle competes with rival clubs for both the Heritage Cup and the Cascadia Cup.

In 2009, Seattle began their inaugural season in the MLS as the league's 15th team. During their first season, every Sounders FC home game was sold out, an all-time MLS record for average match attendance was set, and they sold the most season tickets in the league. The team finished the 2009 season with a winning record and qualified for the MLS playoffs, where they were eliminated in the conference semi-finals. Sounders FC is the second expansion team in MLS history to win the U.S. Open Cup tournament in their first season.

History

Before the first cities in the US were chosen to host Major League Soccer teams, Seattle was considered a viable location for a professional team. In 1994, as the US was preparing to host the FIFA World Cup, Seattle was one of more than 30 cities that expressed interest in acquiring an MLS team. However, the absence of a soccer-only stadium was recognized as a key factor that would keep the MLS away from the strong soccer fan base in the Seattle area. Cities seeking consideration for an inaugural MLS team were also expected to secure 10,000 deposits for season tickets. By the June 3, 1994 deadline for MLS team bids, Seattle organizers had only secured a little over 1,300 total deposits. This was because while the season ticket campaign for the MLS team was taking place, a competing season ticket effort was happening for the American Professional Soccer League Sounders expansion team. In a June 14, 1994 announcement, Seattle was not included among the first seven cities to receive MLS teams. Five more teams were to be announced later that year and to improve their chances, Seattle MLS organizers began working with the University of Washingtonmarker to use Husky Stadiummarker as an interim stadium while they pursued the construction of a permanent soccer-specific facility. In November 1994, as the start of the first MLS season was postponed another year (from 1995 to 1996) it was noted that the absence of an adequate grass-field facility in the area and the presence of the new APSL Seattle Sounders team had thwarted Seattle's MLS bid. Seattle was not among the cities to have a team play in the inaugural MLS season.

In 1996, as Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen worked with the city to build a new football stadium for his team, the potential of an MLS expansion team that could be a co-tenant helped drive public support for the effort. Many of the state's voters who supported the referendum to construct Seahawk Stadium did so because it was promoted as a venue for professional soccer. Just as the stadium problem in Seattle was resolved, a new problem emerged. By 2000, the MLS was moving away from league-operated teams, so an investor would need to step forward for Seattle to obtain an MLS expansion team.

Seattle was again listed as a possibility in 2002 when the ten-team MLS announced plans to expand into new markets. In 2004, MLS commissioner Don Garber indicated that Seattle had been "very close" to receiving the expansion team awarded to Salt Lake. Adrian Hanauer, then-owner of the United Soccer League's (USL) Sounders (formerly the APSL Sounders), was in discussions with MLS about an estimated payment of $1 million to secure rights to a Seattle franchise for 2006. When Seattle was passed over again in the expansion for the 2006 season (it went to Houston), Hanauer announced that he would not be able to secure an expansion team without the help of more investors willing to help cover the increasing MLS franchise fees which had grown beyond $10 million.

MLS expansion arrives

Finally, in 2007, Hanauer worked with Hollywood producer Joe Roth to make another bid for MLS expansion into Seattle at an estimated cost of $30–$35 million. Paul Allen, whose First and Goal company operated Qwest Field (formerly Seahawks Stadium), joined the ownership group that same year, making this bid for expansion the most promising yet. During the first week of November 2007, rumors began to build that the MLS would be announcing an expansion into Seattle the following week and that the ownership group had taken on a fourth member: comedian Drew Carey.

In a press conference on November 13, 2007, it was announced that Seattle had been awarded an expansion team. The announcement provided a return of top-level soccer to Seattle for the first time since the dissolution of its North American Soccer League team in 1983. The announcement also meant that the Seattle Sounders of the USL First Division would disband as the new MLS franchise was formed.

Team name, badge and colors unveiled

Seattle Sounders FC was announced as the team name on April 7, 2008, along with the team logo, colors, and badge design, in a presentation held at the Space Needlemarker. The badge design resembles a heraldic shield consisting of two layers which represent a partnership shared by the club ownership, the community, the players, and the supporters. The logo incorporates the Space Needle, an internationally recognized Seattle landmark. The official team colors are Sounder Blue, representing the waters of the Puget Soundmarker; Rave Green, representing the forests of the Pacific Northwest; and Cascade Shale, representing the Cascade Range to the east of Seattle.

Fans chose a name for the team in an online poll held between March 27 and March 31, 2008. When the possible names to be selected from were initially announced, only three names were to be included on the poll: Seattle FC, Seattle Republic and Seattle Alliance, with the Seattle Sounders name left off to provide a "fresh start." Despite the names having been selected by internal committees and research with fans, the lack of an option to continue the Seattle Sounders moniker was an unpopular decision. In response to the reaction by the fans, the team added a fourth "write-in" option for the team name, allowing for any name to be suggested on the ballot.

Of the 14,500 votes received for the new team name, 49% of the votes included some form of the name Sounders. Upon announcing the name, Hanauer acknowledged the significance of keeping with tradition: “The team playing at the highest level in our region has always been called Sounders. Starting with the NASL and then the USL 1st Division, we now have the chance to create a separate and distinct identity with the new MLS team.”

Team ownership revealed the first Sounders FC jersey on May 28, 2008, and announced Microsoft as the team's sponsor in a five-year deal worth $20 million. As part of the agreement, the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live brands appear on the front of Sounders FC's jerseys and throughout the stadium.

Inaugural season

Players celebrate after winning the 2009 U.S.
Open Cup
Sounders FC began play in the 2009 season as the league's 15th team. All 22,000 season ticket packages offered by Sounders FC for their inaugural season were sold, giving them the most season ticket holders in MLS. Sounders FC played their first home match on March 19, 2009, to a sold-out crowd of 32,523, defeating the New York Red Bulls 3–0. Seattle was the first MLS expansion team to win their first three games, and they did so with a clean sheet in each.

On September 2, 2009, Sounders FC became the second MLS expansion team in league history (Chicago was first) to win the U.S. Open Cup tournament in their first season. They did so by defeating D.C. United 2–1 on the road at RFK Stadiummarker. In winning the U.S. Open Cup tournament, Sounders FC qualified for the preliminary round of the 2010–11 CONCACAF Champions League.

On October 17, 2009, Sounders FC became the second MLS expansion team in league history (Chicago again was first) to qualify for the playoffs in their first season. They clinched a playoff berth with a come-from-behind victory over the Kansas City Wizards 3–2 at Kansas City. Seattle finished the regular season with a record of 12 wins, 7 losses, and 11 ties. The club set an all-time MLS record for average attendance of 30,943 fans per game. Sounders FC's inaugural season came to an end in the 2009 MLS Cup Playoffs when they lost in the conference semifinals to the Houston Dynamo with a 1–0 aggregate score in a two-legged series. During the 2009 season, all 15 Sounders FC MLS regular season home matches, their home playoff match, and their 4 home U.S. Open Cup matches (played at Starfire Sports Complexmarker) were sold out.

Golden Scarf

During the pregame ceremonies of the Sounders FC inaugural home match a Golden Scarf, emblazoned with the Sounders name, was awarded to MLS Commissioner Don Garber. This began a tradition where, before each home game, the club honors a member of the community with the presentation of the Golden Scarf. The recipient and the fans then raise thier scarves over their heads together. As part of the ceremony, the presenter of the Golden Scarf is also recognized.

Stadium

Supporters in the lower bowl of Qwest Field
Sounders FC plays home games at Qwest Field in Seattle, also home to the Seattle Seahawks. The pitch is entitled "The Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field" as part of the sponsorship deal with Microsoft.

Qwest Field is a 67,000-seat stadium designed for both American football and soccer. When the expansion team was announced it was also announced that the upper bowl of the stadium and some of the lower bowl would be covered with tarps leaving the seating capacity at 24,400 seats to provide "a more intimate atmosphere." Due to very successful season ticket sales, and after selling out the home opener with a onetime expanded capacity of 32,400, the seating configuration for regular season matches was increased to 27,700. After repeated sell-out crowds through the first half of the inaugural season, additional sections of seats were opened to increase the total capacity to 32,400. For the 2009 international friendly matches against Chelsea and FC Barcelona, all 67,000 seats were available for ticket buyers.

Prior to the start of their inaugural season, Seattle Sounders FC created a web site identifying seating arrangements for season ticket holders based on personal interests, including preferred method for watching a game and foreign team preference. The team's training facilities and offices are located at the Starfire Sports Complexmarker in nearby Tukwilamarker.

While Seattle Sounders FC plays on FieldTurf currently, Qwest Field has previously had a temporary natural grass surface installed for international soccer events. If an MLS rule change requires natural grass playing surfaces, the field will be permanently replaced with natural grass. For Seattle's international friendlies against Chelsea on July 18, 2009 and FC Barcelona on August 5, 2009, a temporary natural grass field was placed in Qwest Field.

Supporters

Sounders FC Alliance was established at the request of minority owner Drew Carey. Based on the fan association at FC Barcelona, members of the Alliance will have the ability to vote on the removal of the General Manager and on other team decisions. Season ticket holders become automatic members while non-season ticket holders may buy into the Alliance for a fee. Membership benefits include voting privileges, invitation to an annual meeting and other team perks. The Sounders FC Alliance Council consists of members nominated annually by receiving at least 25 nominations from other members. The first vote on the General Manager is scheduled to be held November 2012 following Seattle's third season. Minority owner Drew Carey is the chairman of the Sounders FC Alliance.

Another of Carey's requests prior to his involvement with the team was that they have a marching band, making it the only professional soccer franchise in America with one. This led to the creation of the Sound Wave, a 52-member marching band consisting of brass and marching percussion. In a meeting on December 5, 2008, the Sounders FC Alliance voted on the official name of the band. The band plays music from multiple genres such as Latin, rock and pop, and sits with the supporters in the north end of Qwest Field. The March to the Match, in which fans march from Occidental Parkmarker to Qwest before each home game, is led by the Sound Wave.

Besides the team-supported Alliance, there are currently five recognized, independent supporter groups for Sounders FC. Emerald City Supporters (ECS), who formed in 2005 to support the USL Sounders, is the largest supporter group and sits in the south end of the stadium in sections 121–123. SoCal Sound is an off-shoot of ECS based in Southern California, that attends Sounders FC games played at The Home Depot Centermarker in Carson, Californiamarker.

See also: SoCal Sound homepage
Gorilla FC was formed as the reincarnation of a local politically liberal group to support Sounders FC. The North End Supporters sit in the north end of the stadium beneath the "Hawks Nest" in the all-inclusive sections 100 and 144–152.

See also: North End Supporters homepage Immortal Fury was formed in the fashion of South American torcidas.

See also: Immortal Fury homepage

Rivalries

The Seattle-Portland and Seattle-Vancouver rivalries were established in the years that the NASL-Sounders and USL-Sounders were playing in Seattle. These geographic rivalries are expected to continue with MLS awarding teams to both Portland and Vancouver for the 2011 season. All three teams can trace their roots to the NASL, but these rivalries were only formalized in 2004 with the creation of the fan based Cascadia Cup, which was played for each season by the Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver USL teams.

The fan based Heritage Cup competition with the San Jose Earthquakes was begun in the 2009 MLS season. It is contested among MLS teams that carry on the names of their NASL predecessors.

Ownership and team management

The team ownership is split among several investors. The majority owner is Hollywood producer Joe Roth, with minority owners Adrian Hanauer, former owner of the now defunct USL-1 team Seattle Sounders; Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder and owner of the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers; and Drew Carey, comedian and game show host.

Sounders FC officially introduced Sigi Schmid as their first coach on December 16, 2008. Schmid has previously led the Los Angeles Galaxy to a MLS Cup in 2002 and the Columbus Crew to a MLS Cup in 2008. Brian Schmetzer was later announced as the top assistant coach and Tom Dutra as the goalkeeper coach. Retired MLS veteran defender Ezra Hendrickson joined the Sounders as an assistant coach in January 2009. Former MLS player and Everett, Washingtonmarker native Chris Henderson was named technical director on January 24, 2009. Joining Henderson in the front office is longtime Seattle Seahawks executive Gary Wright as the senior vice president of business operations.

Broadcasting

Seattle Sounders FC matches are televised locally by either KING-TVmarker or KONG-TVmarker (except nationally telecast matches on Fox Soccer Channel or ESPN2/ABC). Former Seattle SuperSonics announcer Kevin Calabro calls the play-by-play while former U.S. soccer star Greg Vanney does the color commentary for the televised matches. Sounders matches on radio are aired on KIRO-FMmarker.

A weekly wrap up show for Sounders FC and MLS news known as Sounders FC Weekly began airing March 22, 2009. The show airs Sunday evenings on KONG-TV and is hosted by Lisa Gangel, weekend sports anchor for KING 5 News.

Honors



Players

Current roster

As of November 25, 2009.

References



External links




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