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But What If They Weren't Sounders?

Initially the name-the-team options didn't include 'Sounders.' If it had stayed that way, what would would've happened?

For the first few months of the franchise, it was simply known as MLS Seattle.
For the first few months of the franchise, it was simply known as MLS Seattle.

Seven years on, and it's lunacy to think they could be called anything but Seattle Sounders.

To many, even seven years ago, any alternative seemed sacrilege. On March 25, 2008, newly christened and generically dubbed MLS Seattle put its name to a public vote. They asked fans to choose between three nickname options: Alliance, Republic or Seattle FC.

While locals associated "Sounders" with professional soccer's storied Seattle history, in the upper reaches of MLS the name was met with resistance. Nostalgia was well and good, but this was a new team in a new league and it was best to make a fresh start. At least that was the wisdom coming from league brass.

Keep in mind that, in 2008, only San Jose had adopted its old NASL nickname and had only done so after four seasons of being miscast as the Clash. Now the Earthquakes were back and Seattle was coming online in 2009.

Pity the poor schmuck (that would be me) whose job it was to rally the crowd to the rather limited online poll. Well, the crowd rallied all right. In fact, they rebelled. Of options A, B and C, there was a significant segment that wanted none of the above.

Ownership listened and -- before polls opened -- offered a write-in option. And in the end it was the write-ins who carried the day, the combined derivations of "Sounders" finishing well out front of the competition.

Republic and Alliance didn't resonate with me either. The latter was soon attached to the body of season ticket members while the former now resides in Sacramento.

Prior to adding the write-in option, "Seattle FC" was the least objectionable; the safest option for the road forward.

Much the way monikers are married to clubs around the world by supporters' acclamation, I was honestly envisioning "Seattle FC" getting hitched to "Sounders" once matches began. I believed in our fans and I believed in the power of the Brougham End. I was confident the ECS and fellow supporters groups would generate Sounders-themed songs and cheers. Over time and organically, it would be all but official.

Not everyone shared my vision or faith. Even fewer liked what I had to write. But maybe my blog, in a small way, helped bring people together. With pitchforks.

Today some say that was one of the pivotal points in the MLS club's formative first years. Screw the name and you're testing fate.

What about you? Knowing the power of the crowd today, where would we be today, if that vote had gone ahead without a write-in? Would we still be Sounders, one way or the other?

Frank MacDonald is a Seattle soccer journalist and historian. This story first appeared on his website and has been republished here with his permission.

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