They tried to stop Zach Scott once. His option declined and passed over in the dozens of MLS re-allocation methods, it was quite possible that Zach Scott would not play in 2016. His time as a Seattle Sounders player could be over, not by his own choosing. Somehow he was able to train and try to prove his value again. He did.
It’s a story in some ways similar to 2002 or 2009, or whenever. Talent scouts tended to overlook Scott. And yet, for 15 seasons he is a Sounder. Outside of soccer he’s a Sounder too. He adopted our region just as we adopted him.
There’s a saying that shale is a great preservative. In many ways, it’s fitting that Scott’s career arc shows improvement as he ages. When he started wearing the shale—a color only part of MLS Sounders, rather than the Green and Blue of the NASL, A-League and USL—he got better.
His most MLS minutes came in 2014 (when he helped win the Shield-Open Cup double) and 2015. That’s absurd. Old soccer players do not do that. Father Time probably wanted Zach Scott to stop.
Zach Scott did not stop.
His stepping away from the game at the end of the 2016 season on his own terms is appropriate. The famed Marker of Men will participate in an attempt to push the Seattle Sounders into the playoffs and towards a rare domestic trophy he hasn’t won. He has four US Open Cups, two USL Commissioner’s Cups, two USL Championships, one Supporters’ Shield, and four Cascadia Cups (with a way outside chance at a fifth).
At his best there was no spot on the backline where he couldn’t help. On the outside he was an old school fullback. He stayed home, defended. In the center he was a destroyer of souls. Sure, other centerbacks are larger, but Scott put himself in places that ended attacks. He used every muscle, every bone, every fiber of a blue-green-shale infused body to stop the opposition.
Zach Scott was never malicious. He was always fierce. And then the final whistle blows, a huge smile creeping across his face. Scott shook hands with opponents, teammates. He would take a bow after a win. Finally, Zach Scott would invite his family onto the field and his children would get a ball rolled to their feet. They would dribble and shoot with that same smile he carries. Eventually they would tire and he’d leave the field.
We now know that there is a time when that will not happen again. In 2017, Zach Scott will no longer play soccer. His family will not celebrate wins on the field with him. In October, or November, or (if the soccer gods are willing) December, Zach Scott will stop—because he chose to do so.
Seattle. Home of the modern pioneer. Tucked away, out on the edge, yet as close to London as it is to Tokyo. Here, we embrace contradiction. Outdoorsy yet connected. Progressive yet staunch traditionalists. Some say we're bursting at the seams. We say we're just getting started. In the air, on the field, you can't stop Seattle.