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1974-1983 Seattle Sounders

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Seattle Sounders NASLNorth American Soccer League (1974-1983)

Born: December 11, 1973 – NASL expansion franchise
Folded: September 6, 1983

Stadiums:

Arena: The Kingdome (26,000 – for indoor soccer)

Team Colors: Green, Blue & White

Owners:

Soccer Bowl Championships: None

 

The original Seattle Sounders of the North American Soccer League were a popular, British-influenced club active for 10 seasons between 1974 and 1983.  The Sounders twice played for the NASL’s Soccer Bowl championship but were foiled by the New York Cosmos in 1977 and again in 1982.

The Sounders began play as an expansion team in 1974.  Walt Daggatt headed the original ownership group, which hoped to bring an NFL expansion franchise to Seattle.  In his efforts to gain favor for Seattle’s NFL efforts, Daggatt met Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt, who also owned the Dallas Tornado of the NASL.  By December 1973, Daggatt and his partners owned a pro soccer club.  A Name The Team contest followed, with Sounders triumphing over several other finalists, including “Mariners”, which would become the name of Seattle’s Major League Baseball expansion team in 1977.

Seattle Sounders NASLThe Sounders played their first two seasons outdoors at Memorial Stadium.  In the spring of 1976, the Sounders moved into the newly opened Kingdome.  The first sporting event held at the Kingdome was a Sounders match against the Cosmos on April 9, 1976.    58,128 fans packed the Kingdome that day to investigate the new building and get a look at Pele, the great superstar of the Cosmos.  Pele scored two goals to lead the Cosmos to a 3-1 victory.  That big crowd and the novelty of playing in a new building helped the Sounders lead the NASL in attendance in 1976 with over 23,000 fans per match.

Throughout their history, the Sounders were loaded with imported players from the British lower divisions.  But the club also featured some big names from English game.  Geoff Hurst, who famously scored a hat trick for England in the 1966 World Cup final, played for the Sounders in 1976.  An elderly Bobby Moore, captain of England 1966 World Cup squad, played seven games for Seattle in 1978.  Other English notables included former Chelsea and Arsenal midfielder Alan Hudson and long-time Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Corrigan.  The Sounders managers were invariably English as well.

In 1977 the Sounders advanced to face the Cosmos in the Soccer Bowl title match at Portland’s Civic Stadium.  The match would be Pele’s final competitive match before retirement.  The critical play came in the first half with the score knotted at 0-0.  Sounders goalkeeper Tony Chursky picked up and controlled a long ball sent in by Giorgio Chinaglia.  Rather than punt, Chursky rolled the ball along the ground.  Steve Hunt raced in from Chursky’s peripheral vision, took the ball off his foot and punched it into the Sounders net.  The Sounders would recover from Chursky’s inexplicable blunder to tie the match a few minutes later.   But Chinaglia scored the game winner in the second half for a 2-1 Cosmos victory.

Roger Davies Seattle SoundersThe Sounders hit their competitive and commercial peak in the summer of 1980.  Coming off a disappointing 13-17 season in 1979, new owner Vince Coluccio launched a rebuilding program by raiding another NASL club, the Tulsa Roughnecks.  The first move was to replace Sounders Head Coach Jimmy Gabriel with recently axed Roughnecks manager Alan Hinton in November 1979.  One month later, the Sounders robbed Tulsa of goalkeeper Jack Brand and a pair of Englishmen – forward Roger Davies and defender David Nish – in a multi-player trade.

Under Hinton in 1980, the Sounders came out of the gate 21-2 and went on to post the best regular season in the NASL’s 17-year history, with 25 wins against only 7 losses.  Brand set a league record with 15 shutouts in goal.  Roger Davies scored 25 goals in 29 games en route to NASL Most Valuable Player honors.  Seattle fans jumped on the bandwagon and the Sounders averaged a franchise high water mark of 24,246 fans for 16 dates at the Kingdome that summer.  But the charmed season died in the playoffs, when the Sounders were bumped off by the Los Angeles Aztecs in shocking second round upset.

The confounding playoff loss to the Aztecs seems to be the moment the tide started to roll back for the Sounders in Seattle.  The 1981 club regressed to a losing 15-17 record and a quick first round playoff exit at the hands of the Chicago Sting.  Seattle’s attendance dropped 25% in 1981, mirroring broader problems throughout the NASL.  Seven franchises folded in the fall of 1981, reducing the league from 21 to 14 clubs.

1982 was Alan Hinton’s third season at the helm.  Despite a 4-9 start, the club bounced back to 18-14 and took the Western Division crown.  Tiny (5′ 7″, 145 pound) English striker Peter Ward earned the league’s MVP award.  Unlike 1980, the Sounders would successfully navigate the playoffs to earn a trip to Soccer Bowl ’82 and a rematch of their 1977 Soccer Bowl loss to the Cosmos.   But the club’s meandering path to the title game failed to captivate the city and attendance dropped to 12,539, barely half of what the club drew just two seasons earlier.  The Coluccio brothers lost $2 million and the Sounders lost Soccer Bowl ’82 to the Cosmos 1-0.

Seattle Sounders NASLThe final dagger came in January 1983 when Vince and Frank Coluccio sold controlling interest in the Sounders to a former Los Angeles Rams football player named Bruce Anderson, and his investment partner Jerry Horn, the President of outdoor recreation retailer REI.  Anderson shocked the Seattle media at his introductory press conference by announcing the firing of Alan Hinton, just months after he took the team to the Soccer Bowl.   It was the first in a series of ham-fisted moves by Anderson, who wanted to Americanize the Sounders, who had traditionally featured a heavy contingent of British imports.  “Americanization” was a big buzz word throughout the NASL (often as a euphemism for “cost cutting”), but Anderson took it practically to the point of xenophobia, repudiating the team’s British-influenced style and tradition.  Anderson also abandoned the Sounders’ traditional colors and crest, which further alienated the club’s loyalists.

For a definitive account of the Sounders decline and fall under Anderson in 1983, check out Seattle sports historian David Eskenazi’s Wayback Machine blog here.

Midway through the 1983 season, the Coluccio brothers bought out Jerry Horn to re-assume control of the team and immediately banished Bruce Anderson to a dark corner of the basement. “My brother and I have $8 million invested.  It would be foolish to give up now,” Vince Coluccio told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer at the end of June.  But the debt and the damage were too deep.  Within two months, the Coluccios threw in the towel. They folded the club on September 6, 1983 a few days after the Sounders’ final game.

The Sounders name was revived in 1994 for an expansion team in the A-League.  The franchise endured for over a decade as a 2nd Division club, playing one level below Major League Soccer (MLS).  In 2007, Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer,  who attended the 1976 Kingdome match against Pele and the Cosmos as a young boy, broadened his investment group and paid $30 million for a 2009 expansion franchise in MLS.  By popular demand, the Sounders name was retained for the MLS entry, which is today considered the league’s model franchise.  In 2010, the Sounders became the first MLS team to draw 500,000 fans in a season.  In 2012, the Sounders attracted a league record 733,441 fans for an average of 43,144 per match.  Only the 1978 and 1979 New York Cosmos have claimed a higher average in the history of American soccer.

 

Seattle Sounders Shop


Sounders Classic Logo T-Shirt by Throwback Max


Sounders 1983 Logo T-Shirt by Throwback Max

Ian Plenderleith’s Definitive Account of “The Short Life & Fast Times of the North American Soccer League”
 

 

Seattle Sounders Memorabilia

 

 

Mark Peterson Seattle SoundersIn Memoriam

Midfielder Micky Cave died of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning in his home on November 6, 1984 at age 35.

Former England captain Bobby Moore (Sounders ’78) passed from cancer on February 21, 1993 at age 51.

Sounders winger Paul Crossley died of a heart attack on March 11, 1996 at age 47.

Former Sounders owner Vince Coluccio died on August 16, 2007.  He was 77 years old.

Sounders founding owner Walt Daggatt died on May 16, 2010 at age 91.

Mark Peterson, one of the Sounders’ best American-born players, passed away suddenly on July 7, 2011 at age 57.

Midfielder Steve Buttle passed away on June 5, 2012 at age 59 after a battle with cancer.

English midfielder Roy Sinclair, who played for the Sounders in 1974 and 1975, died on January 12, 2013 at age 68.

 

 

 

==YouTube==

The Sounders meet the Cosmos in Soccer Bowl ’77.

 

The Sounders host the New York Cosmos at the Kingdome before 36,310 on July 23, 1978

 

1983 Seattle Sounders television commercial (final season)

 

 

==Downloads==

1981 Sounders Indoor Soccer Game Day Timing Sheet 

 

 

==Links==

North American Soccer League Media Guides

North American Soccer League Programs

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