To see some old NASL items, click here.
In December of 1973 the club had a "Name the Team" contest. Six finalists were announced on 13 January 1974: Cascades, Evergreens, Mariners (now pro baseball), Schooners, Sockeyes and Sounders. These were selected from over 300 different suggestions. In the finals, in which 3,735 soccer followers cast their ballots, 32% selected "Sounders" as Seattle's new NASL entry.
Seattle Sounders were born in 1974 as a North American Soccer League expansion team. The team opened shop in Memorial Stadium (the current ground), expanded to 17,000 capacity. The club quickly outgrew its home and moved in 1976 to the Kingdome (capacity of around 58,000). In fact, the first ever sporting event in the Kingdome was an exhibition match between Sounders and New York Cosmos (led by Pele), won by Cosmos 3 goals to 1.
In 1977, Sounders advanced to the NASL championship match (Soccer Bowl '77) against Cosmos in Portland. Unfortunately, Cosmos won 2-1 on one of the freakiest goals ever scored -- back when the 'keeper could dribble and pick up the ball unlimited times, then Sounder 'keeper Tony Chursky had collected the ball and started to dribble in his own area, unaware that Cosmos attacker Steve Hunt was behind him. Hunt picked his pocket and slotted past Chursky for the winner.
In 1980, Sounders had their best record ever at 25 wins and 7 losses, and were favorites to advance to Soccer Bowl. Unfortunately, LA Aztecs upset us in the conference semifinals -- LA won the first match in LA, Seattle routed LA in the return leg. NASL rules dictated the use of a 30 minute "mini-game" to decide matters -- LA scored first, then Seattle equalized to force a mini-game NASL-style shootout (which Major League soccer also used in its first few years of operation). LA won the shootout to knock us out.
In 1982, Sounders again returned to the NASL championship, this time in San Diego, against nemesis club Cosmos. Cosmos again prevailed 1-0 to take the silverware home.
In 1983, the end came all too quickly. The Coluccio brothers who owned the club sold the Sounders to a w@nker named Bruce Anderson. Anderson decided that all the previous history of the club had to go. He got rid of the logo, most of the fan favorite players, the coaching staff, and decreed that players should no longer be called "lads", the pitch should now only be called the "field", and only "Amercanisms" were to be used.
Seattle footy fans are no dummies, and immediately took offense to the new owner. Attendance fell from 1982's 18000+ to barely 8000. The club missed the playoffs and folded in the offseason with barely a whimper. It only took one year for Anderson to single-handedly kill a club that regularly averaged 20000+ fans a game for many years!!!
In the following years, several top amateur clubs surfaced. FC Seattle played several opponents from the soon to be doomed NASL as well as international opponents such as Santos of Brasil (the locals won this one!!). FC Seattle mutated into the FC Seattle Storm and them simply Seattle Storm and played in the Western Soccer Alliance (one of the predecessors of the American Professional Soccer League and the forebearer of the current A-League) into the early '90s.
To see some A-League artifacts, click here
In 1994, the Seattle Sounders were revived as part of the now A-League (it was much smaller back then, about 7 clubs). Alan Hinton, coach of the successful early '80s clubs before the ownership debacle, was brought back to coach. The club returned to its roots in Memorial Stadium and large crowds came to see the club win the regular season championship. The Sounders were upset by the Colorado Foxes on another NASL-style crap-shootout in the playoffs.
1995 would see the Sounders finally notch the silverware, capturing the A-League championship over the Atlanta Ruckus at home (the final was a best of 3 at that point). Alan Hinton resigned as coach in January of 1996 which marked a low point for the franchise. See here and here for transcriptions from the Seattle Times about the circumstances surrounding Hinton's resignation.
1996 saw the Sounders defend their championship under Neil Megson's leadership with a single match final defeat of Rochester Rhinos at Memorial.
The club failed to advance out of the Western Conference playoffs in 1997-2000, and for the first time in its A-League history, failed to make the playoffs in 2001 despite having a winning record.
In the off-season James was fired and Brad Kimura let go as GM. Adrian Hanauer assumed the GM position and former NASL Sounder Brian Schmetzer took over as coach.
The 2002 season saw a return to winning ways with a club record for winning percentage and regular season A-League championship, and following the 2002 season most welcome news: a move out of decrepit Memorial Stadium and its crap pitch to ultramodern Seahawks Stadium. A return to the "classic" NASL logo and club colors was also welcomed by longtime supporters.
2004 saw the Sounders return to the A-League final v. Montreal Impact, following a regular season that saw Seattle struggle at times, but finish strong to qualify for the playoffs. Thrilling aggregate victories over hated rivals Portland and Vancouver saw Sounders through to their third League final.
Montreal was awarded the final to host, due to their impressive attendances throughout the season. Being a heavy favorite to win at home, Montreal were the better team on the day, winning 2:0.
The 2004 offseason has seen the A-League renamed USL Division One, under a more compact USL umbrella that has seen the D3 Pro League (third division) renamed to USL Division 2. USL 1 is capped at 16 teams, extra time during the regular season was abolished, and a more balanced fixture list introduced with matches home and away against all league opponents. Promotion and relegation is even on the horizon should the USL leagues stabilize!