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Seattle United FC?
By Steve MacClare
August 18, 2008           


WA native Kasey Keller

     Something unusual happened this week in Seattle. 90 people gathered in a pub to watch soccer. That’s not unusual in itself. A scattering of ex patriot pubs will be able to claim this feat many Saturday mornings between September and May. When the USA national side play in the World Cup numbers soar into the hundreds. What was unusual was that the throng who packed the Atlantic Crossing pub weren’t there to watch Chelsea, England or even the USA. They were there to watch the Seattle Sounders. And not even the Seattle Sounders FC that the mainstream press deigns to cover when an MLS related press release is unleashed. They were there to shout, cajole and yell at a TV screen hooked up to a laptop showing our current USL Sounders do battle in Charleston. 

     And there was hardly a European accent to be heard as the die hard (and many new) members of the Emerald City Supporters (ECS) club were joined by front office staff of the Seattle Seahawks, Sounders Meet Up group members, a few of the increasing core of soccer media in Seattle and some pub regulars who remained there to see what the fuss was about. 

     Well the fuss is about soccer and it’s coming to a screen near you. Whereas you may get the impression from reading the Seattle Times that the Seattle Sounders’ progression to the big time is a series of high profile media announcements, behind the scenes and relatively quietly, a movement is growing. KJR radio have begun broadcasting a soccer show which is currently only available on line, co-presenter and current Sounders TV commentator Mati Bishop is launching a Seattle Soccer Magazine, the ECS are getting more organized and are planning game day activities to match their decibel level. Soccer pub guides are appearing on Prost Amerika, Kevin Calabro has been enticed from basketball to make spreading soccer to a new audience his new mission, and the Sounders FC have appointed Bart Wiley as Business Development Manager, a post which specifically includes fan liaison. Add to that Facebook pages for fans and the 1,200 people who’ve actually voted to be on a Membership Council and you get the idea. In short everyone is cooperating to make the new franchise the best it can be. The key word here is cooperating. There is an incredible sense of unity in the city. After the recent home game against Puerto Rico, fans and owners were seen chatting amicably and casually, and this was after a defeat. For a club that’s setting itself up to be the first democracy in American sport, this seems to be an excellent start for a franchise still 8 months from playing its first match and who only just added their second player.  

     Which brings me to Kasey Keller. The worst kept secret in Seattle was made public as Lacey, WA native Kasey Keller joined Sébastien Le Toux on Seattle Sounders FC’s playing staff this week. The former Millwall, Fulham, Spurs, Leicester and Borussia Mönchengladbach goalkeeper is 38 and presumably sees joining the organization as something long term. His media adeptness was demonstrated as he became the first person in Seattle soccer history to conduct a press conference in three languages. In the short term, the signing will be judged by his performance on the pitch and among all the emphasis on Keller’s past deeds and the kudos he brings to Sounders FC, it was the keeper himself who stressed that he’s come here to play. 

Everybody’s Having Fun 

     At the press conference to formally announce Keller’s signing, there were plenty of smiles. Quite a few of those were on the face of Adrian Hanuaer, current Sounders owner and the man set to be the first GM of Sounders FC next year. Quite clearly a long term fan of Keller’s, Hanuaer’s pride as he presented the new signing was palpable. When it was Keller’s turn to face the press, Adrian seemed to do something quite rare for him in public. He seemed to relax. He even seemed to be enjoying himself. And why not? Us mortals are stuck with playing Fantasy Football when picking our team, he gets to do it for real. He’ll be in Peru or Venezuela watching players as you read this, clutching his big yellow Spanish/English dictionary. Yo hablo espanol Senor Hanauer! Then again, you could just take Kasey Keller whose Spanish was more than impressive. And very Castillian. 

     Two other people who seem to be enjoying themselves are Mati Bishop and Matt Gaschk of KJR’s   Seattle Soccer Show. They bravely abandoned the studio on Saturday to record their first ever outside broadcast in Seattle’s Fado pub to launch the English season. Interviewing pub regulars of all nationalities about their hopes for their own teams in England, the laughter coming from their corner of the bar punctuated the air as the rest of the pub enjoyed watching Spurs lose. Hopefully their first venture outside the safety zone of Sounders related guests in their studio proved a success and we can hope to have more coverage of European football to go with their local output. 

     Lastly, I’d like to give a shout out to about fifty other people who seemed to be having fun as the Puerto Rico Islanders hammered our Sounders. The growing Emerald City Supporters club provided not just their noisiest but easily their most coherent and organized show of support for the club and kept it going right till the final whistle. While it wouldn’t be unfair to say some of them couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, their efforts to carry the team through a bad patch were praised by many in other parts of the stadium, including the press box. I’d encourage anybody interested in letting off some steam at the football to go down to Starfire Complex and join them on the far left of the main stand. 

    OK ... that’s all for this week, I hope YOU had fun reading. Next week, we’ll have a preview of this year’s Bundesliga season in Germany.


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