The STATE of Soccer in WASHINGTON
The Wash is David Falk’s take on the world of soccer in The WA.
It all started so well for Seattle’s Sounders. A big 4:0 win over the Los Angeles Galaxy before 61,000 fans on national TV kicked off a week that could have been full of all sorts of glory.
What followed were disappointing results and only average performances in two heartbreakers. As we all know, the Sounders fell in penalty kicks to Sporting Kansas City in the 2012 United States Open Cup Final. Then just last Saturday the club scored in stoppage time to draw level with league-leading San Jose, only to surrender a match-winner to the Quakes seconds later.
Ouch. Double ouch. It was not a good week to be a Sounder, in the end. I think we can rightly be disappointed in the club’s play in the two losses. The USOC Final was not a very good match, but Sporting looked better at home, and the Sounders failed to look like a three-time defending champion.
Sigi Schmid chose a starting line-up on Saturday in San Jose that reflected the recent glut of matches. On the bench were Rosales, Johnson, Montero, Ianni. The first three were eventually subbed in late, though it was late enough to wonder how the club could possibly acclimate to the changes. Montero eventually scored the ill-fated equalizer. Fans would be forgiven for scratching their heads at the coach’s choices in a division match of such importance.
Now what is left for the Sounders and their fans is the hope that the Major League Soccer playoffs will see the club go significantly deeper than in the three previous years. There is also CONCACAF Champions League play ongoing.
The Sounders must use their remaining league matches to try and move up the table as far as possible while getting Christian Tiffert used to the league and his new mates. A week of heartbreak has reduced Seattle to looking at just one cup (MLS Cup 2012, although it is the biggest) and falling back from the Supporters Shield hunt.
Can’t we all just get along?
It’s great news that women’s professional soccer will bounce back in 2013. Even better, a local high-tech moneybags is on board to bring a founding team to Seattle.
The rub: it will apparently not be the “Sounders Women.”
I have read with interest comments in social media from fans who say “If it doesn’t have the Sounders name on it, I don’t think it can work…” in terms of a Seattle women’s pro club.
That is me you see, rolling my eyes. People, people…soccer in Seattle, in Washington…does NOT begin and end with the “Sounders.”
It will be very interesting to see how it shakes out in terms of the Sounders Women of the W-League (amateur, unpaid players) and the new club (not yet named, paid pro players). The reasons Starfire was packed this spring and summer were as follows: Hope Solo, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Sydney Leroux…etc. That same club, playing as the “Sounders” since 2001, drew about 700 fans per game average annually. It was starpower, not the brand, that boosted it to 4,500 this year. Of course the name “Sounders” as applied to the affirmed relationship between the Women and “FC” was helpful, but not a majority deciding factor.
The new Seattle club will be a success if it markets well, finds the right place to play, and signs a few stars.
I like the idea of a new team with a new identity. Women coming out into the spotlight with their own crest and a new culture building.
You can handle that, can’t you Seattle?