In many senses, I think we can say that 2011 marked the end of the first era of the Seattle Sounders in MLS. It was Kasey Keller’s final season, but perhaps more importantly, it was the year where the new-car smell had sort of started to wear off. The Sounders won their third straight U.S. Open Cup and finished with their highest regular-season points total while playing entertaining soccer, but it was also the year where frustrations over their playoff performances started to become more stark.
In fact, that’s exactly where LevyFilms’ documentary “American Football” picks up with the postgame locker room scene following a 3-0 loss at Real Salt Lake in the first leg of the Western Conference semifinals. The Sounders nearly staged a heroic comeback in the second leg, but ultimately fell short.
Scott Levy’s documentary mostly follows the 2012 season. We get the kind of in-depth interviews we rarely see and insight into the lives of the players and coaches. We get some particularly poignant interviews with Sigi Schmid, as well as some amazing footage both from training and games.
To the degree there’s a narrative arc, I suppose it’s one of redemption as the movie effectively ends with Mario Martinez’s goal that gave the Sounders their first-ever playoff series victory.
But the documentary isn’t really about a narrative. It’s more of a a collection of vignettes that add up to something that nearly 10 years later feels almost timeless. The format was also a bit ahead of its time as it’s broadly similar — in format at least — to what we saw in multi-part docuseries covering teams like LAFC, Manchester City, and Boca Juniors.
On Friday starting at 7:00 p.m., I’ll be joined by Levy as well as my Nos Audietis co-hosts Aaron Campeau and LikkitP as we provide commentary while watching the first half of the film. Next Friday, we’ll watch the second half alongside Brad Evans.
You can now view them on our Twitch channel.
Here’s part 1: