The Seattle Sounders and the Turning Point in MLS History

Is it possible there wouldn’t be an MLS if the Seattle Sounders hadn’t joined?  Prior to Seattle’s first season in 2009, the league was still struggling and there were some doubts as to whether it would survive.

As soon as Seattle started playing in the league, an immediate difference could be detected.  The impact was undeniable on MLS’s bottom line.


It was apparent from the first game; there was something ‘Major’ in the air in Seattle.  More than 30,000 people packed a sold-out stadium each game all season long, all season long the next season and all games ever since.

If Seattle hadn’t made it into MLS, there may not have been franchises for Portland or Vancouver.  The fever in Seattle was contagious and ignited passions, whether dormant or simmering, for legions of fans across the country.

It is safe to say, no other one city has ever saved a sports league in a country, quite like the Seattle Sounders achieved.

seattle-soundersAll Seattle fans have done is provided a footprint for how Soccer can look and feel in this country, but they weren’t asking for anything in return, other than a solid team to root for.

Their allegiance has been reciprocated by management.  It is the only one in all of American sports that can be voted out by fans as a rule put in by ownership.

They have been putting a quality team on the field each season and taking each championship seriously.

Seattle has led the way among all MLS organizations on showing the significance of winning the U.S. Open Cup.  They have won it in each of their first 3 seasons.

They have taken advantage of every opportunity.  The Sounders have made missing the Sonics of the NBA much easier for sports fans of Seattle.

They have been smart, too, by taking advantage of key partnerships.  With their NFL counterparts, the Seahawks, they have combined marketing schemes and strategies, including; sharing a stadium and using the same uniform colors.

What does MLS owe Seattle?  Nothing and everything.  Nothing, because the league did what they were supposed to do.  Everything, because all the franchises are worth much more and have put the value on purchasing a new franchise to come into the league a lot higher.

Everything turned on Seattle’s entry into the league, the proof is undeniable.  All the present team owners owe them a big debt of gratitude.  All new team owners coming into the league from here on will only know of stories on the struggles of how it used to be B.S (Before Seattle) because they are coming in A.S. (After the Sounders).

Howard Alperin is Managing Editor of

About Howard M Alperin

Husband, Father, Teacher, Planner, Advisor, Counselor, Social Worker, Businessman, Consultant, Blogger, Author, Entrepreneur, Inventor, YMCA Coach, Marketer, Innovator, Advertiser, Promoter, Court Appointed Special Advocate to children, Volunteer, Runner, Athlete, Spanish Speaker, Non-Sports Card Collector, Dog Agility Enthusiast and OIF Veteran.


  1. Tony Brasunas says:

    This is a vast overstatement. Yes, Seattle has had a large impact on the increase in both fan support and popular attention on the league, particularly in the Northwest, and, yes, Seattle is a fabulous club that has done so very much right. But it hardly ‘saved’ anything. Soccer has been growing in this country for years, and will continue to do so regardless of any one MLS club.

    Yes, Seattle Sounders are great. But let’s get causality right: Seattle’s great franchise is a result of — not a cause of — the great growth of soccer in MLS and around this continent.

    Let’s give credit where its due — to Seattle, of course, and to all the clubs, new and old, for what they’ve contributed. And also to the growing numbers of people who play and watch soccer on this continent. And to MLS itself, and to all of its staff, players, and owners.

    Would you go outside and thank a sprouting flower for the rainfall?

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