By the time the players walked out for the opening ceremony on March 18, 2009, it was already clear that the Seattle Sounders were going to be unlike anything MLS had ever seen. More than 32,000 filled packed into the lower bowl of what was then called Qwest Field, about two-thirds of whom were season-ticket holders.
The product on the field was just as impressive. Facing a New York Red Bulls team that was coming off a MLS Cup appearance, the Sounders struck early on a Fredy Montero goal and added a second before halftime through Brad Evans. Montero then added the exclamation mark, stealing a ball near midfield, breaking in on goal, juking the goalkeeper so bad that he had an open net and then blasted his shot for good measure.
Along the way, the Sounders got standout performances from future club legends like Osvaldo Alonso, Zach Scott and Kasey Keller. It would have been nearly impossible to dream up a better start.
But to assume the Sounders were just a ready-made success when it was first revealed that they’d be moving to MLS is not quite right. Although the Sounders had enjoyed a fair amount of success in the NASL and had done plenty of winning at the USL level, the operations were very different.
To get more of a sense of the bigger picture around the events that led us to March 18, 2009, I talked to Taylor Graham. Currently employed by the team as the VP of Business Operations, Graham also played for the USL Sounders during both their championship seasons (2005, ‘07) as well as for the 2008 squad. He then spent three years on the MLS team.
Graham did not actually suit up for that inaugural MLS game, but he does provide an inside view of the organization. Enjoy.