The STATE of Soccer in WASHINGTON
UDPATE: Tacoma, WA. – Due to the Sounders FC playoff match on November 2nd, the 1st Annual “Northwest Soccer Legends Night” has moved to Friday, November 9th. In addition to the change in date, legends including Gary Heale, Chance Fry, Gerry Gray, Neil Megson, Fran O’Brien, and others have been added to the billing. These Northwest heroes will still play an indoor match at the Tacoma Soccer Center, and kickoff remains at 7pm.
Tacoma, Wash.— On November 2nd, the Tacoma Soccer Center will host the 1st Annual, “Northwest Soccer Legends Night,” for fans to get another glimpse of the top talent that has graced the area’s soccer fields through the years. The night’s feature event will be an indoor match at 7 PM, where two teams made up of past pros, will compete against each other on the brand new field turf at the Tacoma Soccer Center. Before and after the game, fans and players will have the opportunity to mingle and remember the “good old days.”
The Legends’ teams are highlighted by the celebrity coaches for each side, Brian Schmetzer and Jimmy McAlister. Schmetzer had a storied career in the NASL, including three years with the Seattle Sounders. He is currently the assistant coach for the Seattle Sounders FC. McAllister was the 1977 NASL Rookie of the Year and earned six caps with the U.S. national team. He is currently the Director of Coaching for the Seattle United youth soccer club.
Fans on hand for the Friday night event can expect to see former Seattle Sounders stars from the NASL, USL, and MLS, like Taylor Graham, Danny Jackson, Leighton O’Brien, and Viet Nguyen. Along-side those players will be decades of professional experience with Sean Henderson, Ezra Hendrickson, Dick McCormick, Darren Sawatzky, Jason Farrell and more. Soccer fans will also recognize indoor soccer legends, Gary Heale, Joe Waters and Ralph Black. Additional players, including Sounders FC U-23s, are confirming their involvement for the November 2nd celebration and will be unveiled at the event. Please note that the appearance of Sounders FC coaches, Schmetzer and Hendrickson, is dependent on their playoff schedule.
Gates will open for the event at 5:00 pm on November 2nd and tickets are $5 for all ages. Food and beverages are available for sale inside the facility, including the Far Post Sports Bar, overlooking the field. Fans can get their favorite players’ to sign autographs after the match. Players will stay after the game for a social event at the Tacoma Soccer Center. Fans are encouraged to hang out and reminisce with the Legends about the glory days.
The Tacoma Soccer Center is located on 2610 Bay Street, Tacoma, WA 918421. The indoor arena is located just off I-5 exit 135 toward Portland Avenue.
Brian Schmetzer (Pro Player 1980 – 1995, Coach 1995-Present) *availability dependent on Sounders FC playoff schedule
Jimmy McAlister (Pro Player 1976 – 1986, Coach 1988 – Present)
Ralph Black (Pro Player 1981 – 1999, Coach 1997 – Present)
Ben Dragavon (Pro Player 2006 – 2009, Coach 2012 – Present)
Jason Farrell (Pro Player 1992-2004, Coach 2004-Present)
Taylor Graham (Pro Player 2003-2011)
Gary Heale (Pro Player 1975 – 1995, Coach 1996 – Present)
Sean Henderson (Pro Player 1994 – 2005, Coach 1999 – Present)
Ezra Hendrickson (Pro Player 1996-2008, Coach 2009 –Present) *availability dependent on Sounders FC playoff schedule
Danny Jackson (Pro Player 2001- 2008, Coach 2008-2011)
Dick McCormick (Pro Player 1988-2000, Coach 1997 – Present)
Viet Nguyen (Pro Player 1999 – 2005, Coach 1999 – 2012)
Leighton O’Brien (Pro Player 1999 – 2011, Coach 2002 – Present)
Darren Sawatzky (Pro Player 1995 – 2004, Coach 2005 – Present
Todd Stauber (Pro Player 1994 – 2001, Coach 1998 – Present)
Joe Waters (Pro Player 1971 – 1992, Coach 1990 – 2012)
Brian Schmetzer (Pro Player 1980 – 1995, Coach 1995-Present) – Brian Schmetzer is currently an assistant coach with the Seattle Sounders FC of Major League Soccer. A Seattle native, Schmetzer first signed with the Seattle Sounders in 1980 straight out of high school. He went on to play in the North American Soccer League, Major Indoor Soccer League and Western Soccer League. Following his playing career, he coached the Seattle Sounders in the USL First Division for seven seasons, winning two championships. He was the 2002 USL-1 Coach of the Year.
Jimmy McAlister (Pro Player 1976 – 1986, Coach 1988 – Present) – Jimmy McAlister was the 1977 NASL Rookie of the Year and earned six caps with the U.S. national team. As a defender for the Sounders, he was charged with marking Pele in the 1977 Soccer Bowl, a job he did well. Following a long outdoor and then indoor soccer career, McAllister took up coaching. He was recently inducted into the Washington State Youth Soccer Association Hall of Fame. In 2000, McAlister became the head coach of the Decatur High School Boys soccer team. The next season, he coached them to an undefeated season and the Washington State 4A championship. In January 2010, he returned to the city where he made his mark as a professional player, becoming the Director of Coaching of the Seattle United youth soccer club.
Ralph Black (Pro Player 1981 – 1999, Coach 1997 – Present) –Ralph Black is a Scottish-born defender who is best known for his indoor soccer exploits. In an eighteen year career, playing over 400 games, Black scored more than 120 goals. From 1984 to ’89, he played 210 matches for the Tacoma Stars, scoring 45 goals. Following his career, he took the reigns as a pro indoor and then youth soccer coach, which he continues at today.
Tom Bunnell (Playing Career 1985-1987, Coach 1985- Present) – Tom has been involved with coaching youth soccer for over 25 years and was a goalkeeper for Western Washington University from 1985-1987. He served as an assistant coach and goalkeeper trainer for the Seattle University women’s soccer team and the Seattle Sounders women’s team for 9 years. Since 2004, Tom has served as Issaquah High School Girls Varsity Head Coach where he has led the team to state titles in 2004,2006 and 2007 and captured state runner up in 2005 and 2009. Tom has been recognized by many for his coaching achievements, which include 3A State Coach of the Year in 2004, 2006 and 2007.
Ben Dragavon (Pro Player 2006 – 2009, Coach 2012 – Present) – Ben Dragavon attended Seattle University and had an extensive goal keeping career in the including playing for the USL Sounders, the Sounders MLS team, Columbus Crew, and Toronto FC. One of Dragavon’s biggest moments was stepping on the field for Kasey Keller in 2009 after Keller received a red card. Ben is currently the goalkeeper coach for the Sounders FC U-23.
Jason Farrell (Pro Player 1992-2004, Coach 2004-Present) – A veteran forward for the Seattle Sounders from their first USL-1 championship era, Farrell also went on to spend four seasons with the Columbus Crew in Major League Soccer. He started his USL-1 career in 1994 with an All-League, Second Team selection and spent three years with Seattle, helping win back-to-back titles in 1995 and 1996 before going to MLS. He had nine goals and 15 assists in his first tour with the club. In Columbus, Farrell was a key component of the lineup, registering 14 goals and 17 assists in 112 regular season and playoff games. When he returned to the Sounders in 2001, Farrell immediately entrenched himself as a regular, playing 88 games and posting eight goals and 15 assists during the next four years before calling it a career.
Taylor Graham (Pro Player 2003-2011) – Taylor Graham played for three Major League Soccer teams during his pro career. In between stints with Kansas City and New York, he was a member of the USL- Seattle Sounders. Graham was a member of the 2005 and 2007 USL-1 Seattle Sounders championship teams. He was named USL-1 Defender of the Year in 2005 and first team All-USL-1 in 2005 and 2008. A graduate of Stanford University, Graham made the jump to MLS with the Sounders before moving from pitch to the Sounders Front Office. The 2009 Humanitarian of the Year is now the Manager of Business Operations with the Sounders FC.
Gary Heale (Pro Player 1975 – 1995, Coach 1996 – Present) – Following an eight season European career in England and Holland, Gary Heale came to the United States in 1983. Heale played for indoor and outdoor teams including the Tacoma Stars and Seattle Sounders. In two stints with the Stars, Gary played 268 matches scoring an incredible 176 goals. Following his playing career, he took up coaching and now coaches youth soccer with Washington Premier.
Ezra Hendrickson (Pro Player 1996-2008, Coach 2009 –Present) – A native of the island of St. Vincent in the Caribbean, Ezra Hendrickson began his career in 1997 with the New York MetroStars, before joining the Galaxy later that season. He totaled six seasons in Los Angeles, where he also won the 2000 CONCACAF Champions Cup and the 2001 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. He was also named Galaxy’s Most Valuable Player for the 2001 season. Hendrickson was a member of three MLS Cup championship teams, winning two with Sigi Schmid. Together, they won the 2002 MLS Cup with the Los Angeles Galaxy and the 2008 MLS Cup in Columbus. Ezra was also with the champion D.C. United team in 2004. He is currently an assistant coach for the Sounders FC.
Sean Henderson (Pro Player 1994 – 2005, Coach 1999 – Present) – Sean Henderson was a two-time prep All-American at Everett’s Cascade High School. He later was an NCAA champion and All-American at UCLA under Sigi Schmid. Henderson represented the U.S. at the U16, U18 and U20 national team level. He played professionally in Germany and in the U.S. with Colorado (MLS) and Seattle (USL-1). Henderson began his youth coaching career in 1999 and is currently the assistant coach for the Sounders FC Youth Academies.
Danny Jackson (Pro Player 2001- 2008, Coach 2008-2011) – Danny Jackson was a first round selection by the Colorado Rapids in the 2002 MLS draft. He then moved to Seattle where he became the Captain of the USL Seattle Sounders as they qualified for three USL Championship Finals (2004, 2005, 2007), winning in 2005 & 2007. Danny Jackson’s coaching experience ranges from youth soccer at Eastside FC and the Sounders FC / ODP youth development program.
Dick McCormick (Pro Player 1988-2000, Coach 1997 – Present) – Dick McCormick is a Seattle native who played over 500 pro games and, most recently, coached some of the area’s most successful youth teams. In 13 seasons McCormick was a playmaking midfielder for several indoor and outdoor clubs, including the Tacoma Stars, Seattle SeaDogs and USL Sounders. He won championships with the Sounders in 1995 and 1996, and with the SeaDogs in 1997. McCormick went on to coach under Brian Schmetzer for the USL Sounders from 2002 to 2004, and is now the Head Coach of Sounders FC Youth Academy Teams.
Mike Morris (Pro Player 2006-2008, Coach 2008 – Present) – Scoring the fastest goal in Seattle Pacific University’s soccer history, Mike Morris has gone on to become the camp site director and the youth programs operations assistant for the Sounders FC. Morris also played for the 2007 Sounders USL Champion Team & the Sounders USL 2008 team. Mike currently is a head coach for several teams at Greater Renton Football Club.
Viet Nguyen (Pro Player 1999 – 2005, Coach 1999 – 2012) – Viet Nguyen was a standout player at the University of Washington in the late 90’s. During that time he earned a spot on the United States U-20 National Team. Following his time as a Husky, he was drafted to play for the Seattle Sounders where he played 6 years in the Sounders midfield. Viet went develop a coaching career as one of the top technical youth coaches in the state.
Leighton O’Brien (Pro Player 1999 – 2011, Coach 2002 – Present) – Leighton O’Brien’s was the playmaker for the Sounders USL squads in the early 2000’s. In 2002, he tied for the league lead in assists with 11 and was named the USL A-League MVP. O’Brien then played 35 matches in Sweden before returning to the Sounders to help them win two USL championships. Leighton is now the Director of Coaching for PAC NW youth soccer club.
Dennis Sanchez (Playing Career 2005-2008, Coach 2010 – Present) – Dennis Sanchez attended San Diego State University where he earned All Pac-10 Honorable Mention Honors his second year on the team. Dennis is currently the 1998 ODP Boys Head Coach for Washington State as well as the Teams Operations Assistant for the Seattle Sounders FC.
Darren Sawatzky (Pro Player 1995 – 2004, Coach 2005 – Present) – Darren Sawatzky played in the inaugural year of Major League Soccer. His nine-year pro career took him throughout the United States and trials in Mexico and England. Sawatzky even spent a season with the Portland Timbers… A prolific goal scorer, Sawatzky scored 36 goals for the Sounders before joining the coaching staff as an assistant in 2007. Now Darren is the Director of Youth Development for the Sounders FC and head coach of the Sounders FC U-23.
Todd Stauber (Pro Player 1994 – 2001, Coach 1998 – Present) – Following three final fours and a national championship with Seattle Pacific University, where he assisted on the game winning goal, Todd Stauber was drafted by the Seattle Sounders. In between outdoor seasons, Stauber played indoors for the Seattle SeaDogs and Lafayette Swampcats. Stauber also had a stint with the San Jose Clash as well as trials in Europe. Following his playing days, Stauber has coached collegiately and on the youth level.
Erik Storkson (Pro Player 1997-2001, Coach 2004 – Present) – Walking on for the Sounders at the age of 19, Erik Storkson played with the Sounders for 7 years and logged over 4000 minutes. One of his memorable moments was scoring the tying goal in the last minute against the Vancouver 86ers in the 1988 playoffs. Storkson currently coaches at Crossfire Premier FC as well as at Lindbergh High School.
Joe Waters (Pro Player 1971 – 1992, Coach 1990 – 2012) – Joe Waters started a professional career with 13 years in English Football with Leicester and Grimsby Town. Waters scored two goals in his debut Leicester City in a FA Cup Quarterfinal win. Once Waters arrived in the U.S. he joined the Tacoma Stars for 358 appearances and was affectionately known as “Jumpin’ Joey Waters.” He is also a capped Republic of Ireland national teamer who now coaches high school, youth soccer, and the Tacoma Stars.