SEATTLE – Everything went well for the Sounders, who were stimulated by nearly two hours of grinding and a sea of blue and green Seattle fans who pushed their brand of electric energy on the field.
This was history – and it was seen as a joint effort between the team and its supporters.
For more than 20 years, no Premier League team has ever won the CONCACAF Champions League, which includes the best teams from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. But The Sounders ended the drought by drowning in the Northwest Pacific: a 3-0 victory over the Mexican Pumas on Wednesday.
How important was that victory?
During the week leading up to the match, Sounders General Manager Garth Lagerwey described it as an opportunity for the immortality of football.
In hype broadcast video, none other than the retired Seahawks icon, Marshawn Lynch, called it “a great (disgusting) game.” During the break on Wednesday, with the Sounders leading 1-0, MLS Commissioner Don Garber stood in his room at Lumen Stadium, looked at me intently, and called the match “the biggest game in league history.”
Since its inception in 1996, MLS has sought to become a top-tier American league that can stand on its own two feet with the world’s most powerful nations. But so far, failure has been a common practice for MLS in this annual tournament, and teams from Mexico’s rival leagues have won 13 Concacaf tournaments.
True, the Sounders buried those shortcomings Wednesday.
Previously the match was a tumultuous one and was affected by a game of limbs that forced the key pair of Sounders, João Paulo and Nouhou Tolo, to leave with injuries. But Seattle highlighted his business brand resilience. Goalkeeper Stefan Frei, named the most valuable player in the tournament, backed the stronghold, and the Sounders continued their attack until forward Raul Ruidiaz scored with a fierce shot at the end of the period. In the 80th minute, Ruidiaz added another goal from a soft attack.
Nicolás Lodeiro sealed the victory with a goal in the 88th minute and ran towards the stadiums to cheer among the many fans.
The win enables the team to qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup, a football-filled tournament. Chelsea Premier League win last time. Liverpool or Real Madrid will represent the next Europe. Just being in the same uniform with the same team teams is completely new to MLS
It is fitting, then, that the Sounders will lead the league on this new slope. Since joining MLS during the expansion wave in 2009, they have captivated this wealthy football city by winning two MLS Cup titles in four races to the finals. Seattle has led the league in attendance for all but two seasons, with local fans bringing the same enthusiasm to Lumen as Seahawks fans are known. Maybe more. The 68,741 fans who set the record for the tournament showed up to watch the home team play Pumas. Wednesday night.
How did Seattle become an American football player?
There is no single answer. Part of it is the city’s history of embracing unusual and foreign objects – which still defines paid football in the American sports context. Seattle produced Boeing and Microsoft, Starbucks and Amazon. It produced a grunge rock of the world with Quincy Jones. Jimi Hendrix went to high school three miles from Lumen Stadium. Bruce Lee improved his martial arts skills in just a short time.
One of its main works of art is a trolley statue that sits at the bottom of the bridge. It has been customary to cover it with a blue and green Voice scarf before the big games.
The city’s love for football in all its forms – from the Sounders to the NWS OL Administration, to the universities and youth leagues – is also a product of the old specialty and special teams: Seattle Sounders long-standing origin – Football League of ruined North America.
From 1974 to 1983, those Sounders teams were part of the first real effort to bring about intense competition, relying on the United States for paid football within this world.
If you ask me, a Seattle native who grew up in those days, I say love started, exactly, for one game.
Since I was 9 years old I have called it the Game of Pele. That’s when I boarded a city bus in the city center to watch the original Sounders retreat. The date was April 9, 1976, the first sports event ever to take place in Kingdome, which has now been demolished.
The nearly 60,000 crowd, who at the time were the largest in North American football history, watched Seattle welcoming the New York Cosmos star and its leader, the greatest player the game football has ever seen: Pelé. Lulu Black, as she is known, came to NASL to celebrate the final stage of her career – and as a game-changing ambassador for North America. I do not remember the details of the match as much as I remember being amazed by Lithe and the talented Brazilian.
Pele did not give up. He scored two goals in a 3-1 victory.
The game was symbolic. Those first Sounders players quickly became local stories, woven deep into the fabric of the city. In those days, it seemed to me that Sounder visited every class in every public school. In 1977, the Sounders made it to the Champions League trophy. They played in front of a large mansion in Portland, Ore., A three-hour drive south, lost to Cosmos, 2-1, in the last non-show game that Pelé once played.
“I still have his jersey,” Jimmy McAlister said in a telephone interview. I was about to see a smile in his voice. A a defender for the Seattle team and a NASL winner in 1977, McAlister told me how he somehow had the courage to ask Pele his wheat jersey No. 10. legend duty. The jersey is now in the McAlister lock box.
“People call me from time to time, wanting to buy it,” he said. Not for sale. Some things are more valuable than money. The jersey has memories and spirits.
McAlister loves modern Sounds. He praised their solidarity, the work ethic of the blue collar, and their growing talent. Raised in Seattle, he is one of the many Voice Players who remained in the city after their playing days were over. These days he runs one of the top youth development clubs. Many others remained to teach sports, teaching in clinics and in high schools and universities. Some helped lead a small league team that is now inactive – also called Sounders.
They kept football alive for decades between the death of NASL and the birth of MLS.
On Wednesday night, about an hour after the game, fans remained at Lumen Stadium. A large part of them. Happy songs were heard as far as the stadium was covered with confetti. The players responded by lifting the Champions League gold trophy high. Unlike the 1976 Kingdome game – Sounders originated against the bright, star-filled Cosmos – this match was not memorable because of an opponent. It was memorable because of the home team, which simply put itself on the international map. And that no doubt made Pelé, a proud longtime football ambassador, a little proud.