He’s old now. Of a generation defined by a single letter, the world keeps passing him by. People don’t drive any more. Coffee is delivered after mental request. He remembers when phones had rotary dials, not implants. The virtual worlds are the ones most inhabit, except for those who prefer live sports, and they’re mostly old now too.
But some are parents, or grandparents, so they unplug the kids for a bit and send them to him. They want stories of community, of love, of passion. There is a hope that he can unlock the embedded memories, activate the future so they would continue the old ways.
Gathered around him are a couple dozen youths.
“Tonight, I will talk of Brian Schmetzer’s 2016. It was in that magical season when he...”
An excited boy interrupts “that’s the first time he was head coach!!!”
“No, no, the second time. He won a few trophies before MLS. Back in ‘16 was when took over for Sigi Schmid.” A long pause and then, as every year, the “ooooooooohhhh”s of recognition. Everyone knows Sigi’s story. He is honored in the rafters, among other legends, from both kinds of football.
“So, that was the year that no one knew if Schmetz would just be a temporary replacement or if something greater would happen. Back then Sounder at Heart was barely more than a blog, and it campaigned for Schmetzer to be hired full time. Then, during the playoff run, the team hired him. We made this to celebrate.”
And he pulled out a tattered sign.
“I’ve had this reproduction since 2026. It felt right to print it then. So, we made these signs to celebrate the political campaign succeeding.”
“Sir, what’s a political campaign?” Someone always asked this. America considered itself post-political now.
“This would take a long time, but it was a way that we decided important things. At the time, someone with Sounder at Heart thought it would be funny to run a fake political campaign mocking the contested election. It worked, it worked.
“But it also happened at an odd time. The Sounders were in middle of a playoff run...”
Another interruption “That was when they beat LA!”
“It was not. It was...”
“KC” “No, it was Colorado” “New York” “New Jersey” “Toronto” “Montreal” “Ya, dinguses it was Dallas, back when they were just FC and played in Frisco.” “They never played in Frisco” “Did too.” “Did not” “Ur DUMBZ” “U R”
And then the text speak and holographic emojis took over.
“Children, this story is simple. It’s about the announcement. Schmetzer had beaten Salt Lake City, Kansas City and led Dallas 3-0 heading into the second leg. The club decided this was the appropriate time to name him permanent coach. Spirits could not be higher. They still had work to do though.
“So they worked. We worked. We were their voices then. We were so loud. We would not stop. Our voices, real live, present voices rained down at home and on the road. After a game we’d go to work...”
“Later! So, as I was saying, we would go to work and couldn’t use our voices, because we sang so loud.” He put a hand out. He wasn’t going to let them ask why they didn’t just emote.
“And we kept singing, for the club, that relationship between fans and team, trusted us. We trusted them. Schmetzer insisted he was merely a custodian, a caretaker. Schmetzer insisted that the players were responsible for all the greatness. Schmetzer knew how to work a crowd, you should have seen him at that announcement. He knew how to leave at just the right time. Brian knew how to focus on the task at hand, for the task was never merely to ‘hire Schmetzer.’ The task was much greater.
“The club headed to Texas after that. They played a couple more games...” another interruption. Kids these days.
“Was that when the Sounders won their first Cup?”
“That depends on how you define first ...”
And the old man smiles, creaks to a standing position and hobbles off. The kids look a bit bewildered, confused.
But one, she in the classic Rave Green with double-S pattern, she smiled the biggest smile, for she knew. The others started emoting, or using their inbuilt holos. She just smiled at the memory of stories of so many cups, so many years. Cups won in different colors. Shields won in different colors. Reaching into her pocket, yes, she has pockets, she fingers a small medallion. On one side it says “Brian Schmetzer’s Rave Green Army” and on the other it features the winged skull in black. It really does depend on how you define first. But she knows how you define first. She knows her history.