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A Brief History of Homegrowns & Finals

For Jordan Morris, living the dream would be winning an MLS Cup for his hometown club while scoring. But most importantly, winning. Here's what history his homegrown predecessors have made.

A giant replica of the Philip F. Anschutz trophy is positioned at BMO Field.
A giant replica of the Philip F. Anschutz trophy is positioned at BMO Field.
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

When he takes his place on the terra firma of BMO Field on Saturday night, the mission of Jordan Morris is to do whatever it takes for the Sounders to bring home the Philip Anschutz Trophy.

Win the ball. Hold the ball. Connect. Cover and mark bigs on Reds set plays. Set-up or score a goal, all the better. But just win.

It would be Seattle's first such championship in the top flight of North American soccer, and it would obviously hold extra special meaning to a Mercer Islander who grew up watching the boys in Rave. And given Puget Sound's proclivity for producing top-class players, it would be a fantasy come true for fans, to see a homegrown lad lift MLS Cup.

That is the history Morris-€”as the 17th Washington Youth Soccer product to appear in such a final-€”could make. As for the other league cup final firsts by our state's homegrowns, most have already been spoken for.

The Firsts

In fact, this notion of natives wearing a Seattle shirt in a top-flight final began more than a generation ago, 39 years, in fact.

The very first to do so was Jimmy McAlister, the 1977 NASL Rookie of the Year who was in the Sounders' XI versus the New York Cosmos. Although Seattle lost, 2-1, McAlister acquitted himself well that afternoon in Portland, and the legendary Pele´, playing his final competitive game, afterward presented the 20-year-old fullback from West Seattle his treasured 10 shirt.

The first homegrown to win a domestic championship was Tacoma's Jeff Durgan. At 19 Durgan started in central defense for the Cosmos in their comprehensive (3-0) Soccer Bowl ‘80 victory over Fort Lauderdale. Two years later, Durgan collected his second championship ring at the expense of the Sounders (1-0) and his two youth teammates, Mark Peterson and Jeff Stock.

Spokane's Craig Waibel has the honor of becoming the state's first three-time champion. Waibel, whose pro career began with the A-League Sounders, started and won three MLS Cup finals with San Jose ('03) and Houston ('06-07).

In 1997, Colorado's lineup versus D.C. United (1-2) featured not one but three of Washington's finest: Marcus Hahnemann, Chris Henderson and Sean Henderson. All would represent the Sounders or FC Seattle at one point during their respective careers.

And it's been 20 years since a homegrown experienced the Dream Final.

A year after winning an A-League title with the Sounders, Issaquah's own Shawn Medved came off the bench for D.C. United midway through the second half  of the inaugural MLS Cup versus LA. Eleven minutes later, Medved scored the game's equalizer, forcing overtime where United prevailed, 3-2.

Twenty years on, perhaps it's time to put such a script to work once more.

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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