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.
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 AmericanizeSoccer.com