From NASL coaches through USL stars to current coaches and players Seattle is now home. To be a Sounder, you don't have to a be native. You merely need to become a fixture in the community. How does that happen?
On Sunday Roger Levesque hyped the team and the fans. If there was one thing that was clear in Levesque Week, it was that Seattle is home. Later that evening Sigi Schmid referred to the experience (win, tifo, crowd, etc) as "heaven." The list of soccer people that left their birthplaces and now call the greater Puget Sound home is large. Hinton, Gabriel, and Best are NASL highlights. From the USL there is Levesque, Scott and many more. In MLS the team is starting to move here, to settle here. Montero, Alonso and Evans are just some examples.
Seattle is home.
It is grey, damp, cool.
Making the switch... Back to flannel for 9 months after 3 of tank tops. That's ok w/ me though.— Brad Evans (@brad_evans3) October 10, 2012
Seattle is home.
The bluest skies you've ever seen are in Seattle
And the hills the greenest green, in Seattle
It's not easy to transition from home to somewhere else. For keeper Marcus Hahnemann the transition to home was made less difficult because he brought his family with him.
"The easiest part for me was that I moved over with my wife Amanda and my two boys. Your whole world is basically moving with you. I had it a lot easier than the single guys moving all over the place," he said after Wednesday's practice. "It's not easy - going to a completely different culture and everything."
That's a theme in conversing with a few Sounders about why this is home.
Brad Evans didn't consider Columbus home. But for Seattle, he certainly does. "I did the long distance thing with my now wife. Family was so far away and I was injured my first year. Maybe things would have been different now if I'd been healthy for a couple of years and started to build my family there maybe it would have become more of a home, but it was only two years there," Evans said also on Wednesday. "Now I find myself here. I'm settled. My wife has a full-time job. I feel confident playing, the team is doing well. Yeah, I'd call this home."
Evans likes to escape to the hills and forests around the region. The quick trip to just get away is a big bonus. But family is at the core.
Zach Scott also mentioned family, "I think with getting signed by the [MLS] Sounders and having a contract that was year round I think that took a huge weight off of ourselves as a family. I think at that point we were able to say 'we can see a future here now.' It was an actual job with a 401k and a medical plan for my family. I don't think you can call somewhere home if you can't support your family there. Obviously just being here for so long. Now that my kids go to school here, my wife works here as well. Slowly but surely it became home for us."
The element of permanence helps someone adapt to it becoming home. Be it multiple contracts, a 401k, a medical plan. Hahnemann shared the same feeling about his time at Reading.
"It wasn't until we got to Reading where we really settled in I think. Once you are in a community after your first couple of contracts, get a couple of extensions on there, I think at Reading we there seven years. We bought a house there. That really felt like home."
Seattle becoming home happens in all of the major sports. Bill Russell settled here after being a coach of the Sonics. Jeff Nelson called the Eastside home for several years even while he wasn't playing for the Mariners.
Scott thinks he knows why, "There's a lot to be said for the sports organizations in Seattle. I think when you ingrain a group of players so tightly into the community, for example how we do it with the Sounders, there's guys out coaching, there's guys doing camps, doing tons of appearances, giving back to the community, giving to charities, it becomes more permanent to a lot of people. It becomes more permanent to the Seattleites. We're not just a professional athlete that has a home in Seattle for a season, but moves to where they grew up for the offseason and then come back. I know a lot of guys who didn't grow up in Seattle who in the past two or three years with the Sounders have bought homes here and made this home.
"It's a little of everything. The weather is fantastic obviously. I think guys get over the fact that it rains a bit, because when it's beautiful it's one of the best places to live in the country. And what we do with the community is fantastic it ties everybody in nicely."
There's going to be another Levesque, another Schmid, another Hinton. Who it is, we don't yet know. But several, maybe many, of the players will settle here. Their post-playing career lives will be in Seattle. It will be because of the professionalism of the organization, the unique mix of urban and outdoors and it will be because of the weather.
Yes, the weather. Both Hahnemann and Scott mentioned it.
Hahnemann said, "I think most people who come to Seattle, once they get past the grey weather they absolutely love it."
Scott's words are nearly the same, "The weather is fantastic obviously. I think guys get over the fact that it rains a bit, because when it's beautiful it's one of the best places to live in the country."
So on this first day of rain in a couple months know that the Sounders still call it home.
It's the hardest thing a boy can ever do
An' you pray that you will find
someone warm an' sweet an' kind
But you're not sure what's waiting there for you!
The answer is simple for the players on this team - tens of thousands cheering you on, showing up at the events, empowering the team to do so much with their charity partners and this damn fine region.