Love the nation. Love the team. But about that Federation... (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
After the announcement that the US Open Cup Final rights were awarded to Sporting Kansas City over Seattle fans of the Sounders took to twitter to vent frustration. The lack of transparency, the claims that the bids were tied and USSF's general disinterest in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest fuelded the vitriol. Several East Coast pundits mocked the frustration, while others understood the base of the frustrations even if they didn't understand why the Open Cup Final decision set Seattle off.
But when decisions occur behind closed doors, with so little said publicly and they result in a region of the country being ignored that region is going to respond. The USSF is sowing the discontent in Seattle (also Portland) by consistently turning their backs on a region that is clearly passionate about soccer. It is a passion that goes back generations, and the ignoring of the area does as well.
Over the last six years the decision to not come to Seattle is fairly well known. A single Gold Cup match is all we've had, and that chosen by CONCACAF (though USSF has some influence). This despite all the Sounders attendance records. Let's be clear though, top level soccer was supported prior to the MLS Sounders. The NASL team was quite popular and the USSF brought the Men's Team here twice.
Blackened decisions with those results would cause on uproar. Yes, there are reasons to not have the games here (the need for temporary sod being the clearest), but Seattle has a major aiport with non-stop flights available, a huge facility designed for soccer from day and the fan base.
The frustrations aren't just about going 0 for 5 in "coin-flips" for the Open Cup and twice having non-financial matters skip over a city that supports club soccer like few others in North America. It comes from history. A recent history that is demonstrated in that interactive graphic, but one that goes back further.
Seattle was ignored prior to MLS existing as well. Even during the NASL heyday, Seattle hosted few senior men's national team events. Looking back from 1992 using the Guiness Record of World Soccer by Guy Oliver (c) 1994 you can see that the Puget Sound barely saw the natoinal team.
July 24, 1975 saw Poland beat the USA 4-0 in a friendly.
October 20, 1976 saw the United States defeat Canada 2-0 in a World Cup Qualifier.
And that's it from 1885 to 1992 and nearly 300 matches that the national team played. They came to Seattle twice. In the 90s when Seattle was the boom of movie, music and coffee cultures how many times did they come here?
Now, there is a gap from 1993 to 1997 where the book and the USSoccer website don't cover, but there is one match we can find in Seattle. January 1994 saw Russia come to the Kingdome and draw 1-1 in front of 43,000+.
On March 29th, 2003 Venezuela and the USA faced off at now CenturyLink Field and won 2-0. More than 17,000 watched. This was after Japan was originally booked, but needed to pull out from the event.
In 2005 Seattle hosted TWO games. Gold Cup matches, so not solely the purvue of USSF but against Cuba (4-1 win) more than 15k showed up. Two days later against Canada (2-0 win) again more than 15k showed up. Those totals are in line with crowds in the early rounds of the Gold Cup.
Those same East Coast pundits that mock your fury claim that Seattle only supports club football. It's been tested and one the rare occaissions that the Nationals come they successfully draw fans, despite the fact that generations of Seattleites never had the opportunity to watch their nation's team. To be ignored by a federation that does not reveal its reasons for various decisions has led to a high level of distrust from Sounders towards the offices of the USSF.
Here's the thing. We love American Soccer. We love the US National Team. We just hate the way the USSF hides from us.