This editorial is updated from the print version in the Dec. 14 edition.
Sports are truly unique in the way that they bring people together.
At a time when we seem as divided as ever, it’s one of the few remaining things that stretch across racial, cultural, gender, and political lines and unites us for a common cause.
We saw that on Saturday night, as people across the city gathered to watch — and later celebrate — as the Seattle Sounders won their first Major League Soccer championship, and again on Tuesday as thousands took to the streets to honor the team with a march from Westlake Park to a Seattle Center rally. The boys in rave green became the second professional team in the city to win a title in the past three years, joining the Super Bowl XLVIII champion Seahawks.
You would be hard pressed to find a more passionate soccer fan base in this country (sorry Portland), with the team consistently drawing more than 40,000 people per match, putting them comfortably atop the attendance rankings.
And after racking up other trophies — four U.S. Open Cup titles and the 2014 Supporters’ Shield, given to the team with the best regular season record — the Sounders now own the league’s top honor.
This week, we raise our scarves to the unlikeliest of champions, a team that at one point in the season was given about a 5 percent chance of even making the playoffs, much less winning it all.
We salute Stefan Frei, the goalkeeper with the miraculous one-handed save in extra time to keep the game tied, exactly three years to the day that he was traded from Toronto to Seattle.
We salute Roman Torres, the Panamanian who missed much of the season recovering from a torn ACL, but returned and converted the game-winning penalty kick.
We salute Nicolas Lodeiro, the midseason addition that energized the roster, and immediately became one of the league’s best players.
We salute Clint Dempsey, the U.S. National Team stalwart who bucked conventional wisdom to come to Seattle three years ago, but unfortunately missed the final few months of this season with an irregular heartbeat (get well soon!).
We salute Mercer Island's own Jordan Morris, the local kid that constitutes the next generation of national teamers, for deciding to stay in Seattle. For that matter, we salute a pair of UW graduates in Cristian Roldan and Darwin Jones.
We salute Brad Evans, Zach Scott, and Osvaldo Alonso, the guys that have been here from the beginning.
We salute Alvaro Fernandez, Erik Friberg, and Nathan Sturgis, each of whom left Seattle only to return.
We salute Chad Marshall and his defensive prowess.
We salute Tyrone Mears, Andreas Ivanschitz, Nelson Valdez, and Herculez Gomez, savvy veterans that played along side the world’s best players in other leagues before coming here. And nice crowd surfing today, Herc.
We salute every player and coach, past and present, each of whom has left their own mark on the franchise even if we don’t have the space to mention each of them by name. Kasey Keller, Roger Levesque, Djimi Traore, Marcus Hahnemann, Steve Zakuani, Alan Hinton, Pepe Fernandez, Jimmy Gabriel, and Taylor Graham are just some that continue to call this area home.
And, finally, we salute Brian Schmetzer.
A Seattleite through and through, a Nathan Hale graduate who played for the original incarnation of the Sounders in the 1980s, and later coached the Sounders in their USL days in the early 2000s, before becoming an assistant with the MLS side in 2009, and this past July, the team’s second head coach.
Way to go Sounders, we couldn’t be prouder.
Let's save the date for, say, 12 months from now.