So in listening to today's Ken Griffey Jr. Press Conference I started to ponder, "what would it take for Sounders FC to have a Griffey?" It isn't that soccer can't have a transformative figure, one with which entire communities identify, for we have seen it in other less than top tier sports.
Tiger Woods being the prime example, but there is Danika Patrick, or even Mia Hamm for the women's game.
But this is more about the theory, can Major League Soccer, particularly the Seattle Sounders, ever have a sports icon?
A figure that sells things outside of the sporting goods world, a player who is either extremely marketable, extremely good, or even both? Can said player stay in MLS long enough to take root before heading across the Pond?
Will there ever be someone in the Rave Green who sells 16,000 seats just by coming back to their "home?"
It would almost certainly have to be a Forward, Winger or Center Attacking Midfield. It is just so hard for non-scorers to gain the popularity that is needed. They would need to have that smile, the one that just says that they love the game, and the people of the town. They would need to start young and stay for most of a decade putting up big numbers, like Altidore was about to do before he left.
In fact, if we track the progress of Altidore if he had stayed seven years he probably could have done it, particularly because he would have had World Cup 2010 in his belt and nearly 100 goals in MLS. Taylor Twellman, if healthy and a national team regular, could have been the guy, but he didn't start early enough, and the New England Revolution does not have the attachment to its community that the Sounders already have.
To be a Ken Griffey, Jr. within MLS it must be a for a team that has a passionate and large fan base, the player must be amongst the league elite, and must start play young, so as to establish themselves. Speaking decent to better English might be a key as well.
Will we ever see an icon in Rave Green? Probably not with the way the league is structured, but sitting in my living room listening to the press conference for Griffey's return all I could think is I want this for my new team, my new passion.