Friday, February 20, 2009

Week 3 - Seattle Sounders

"Get on up for the down stroke" – so a wise man once said. I still don't really know what it means.....

Now I know this is really meant to be a soccer blog. But I was interested to find out why Kevin Calabro, one of the most famous announcers in the NBA basketball league, won't be using this (brilliant) catchphrase to describe some Seattle Supersonics action any time soon.

The poor Sonics, around since 1967, have vanished and been replaced - and moved to Oklahoma - by the new franchise 'City Thunder'.

Apparently, a giant black cloud hovered over Seattle the day the Sonics lost their battle to survive, in July last year. It's sad to see a team just disappear, but I suppose they can always hope to re-launch in future, in much the same way as the San Jose Earthquakes soccer team have.

Calabro is doing a bit of re-launching himself, continuing with basketball commentary but adding soccer to his repertoire. He is now the official 'play-by-play' announcer for Seattle Sounders FC, and when the fans heard this I am told the reaction was similar to when they were told that their team had signed Swedish star Freddie Ljungberg - though I'm not sure if I believe it. Incidentally, Ljungberg was not training with the Sounders when I visited – he has a couple of injuries.

So as the Sonics basketball team fades in to the night, it seems appropriate that the new soccer team steps out of the relative wilderness in Seattle. The city was awarded an MLS expansion team at the end of 2007, so they've barely had a year to get organised.

Starting a new team, almost from scratch, can't be an easy job. And on the whole, expansion teams don't tend to do to perform very well in their first season in the MLS. Chivas USA in particular set new records in poor performance when they debuted in 2005. It certainly won't be easy for the Sounders.

Having said that, the team has a really professional aura – their Qwest Field stadium is superb, and the players and even journalists all ooze a kind of optimism about the team, which is very refreshing in a country where so much negativity is attached to soccer.

Taylor Graham, their centre-half, told me the club has “a lot more resources, a lot more excitement, a lot more media buzz – and hopefully we can translate that in to wins.”

The Sounders have even announced a friendly game against Chelsea to be played at the Qwest Field in July, which season ticket holders will be able to attend as part of their subscription.

It's exciting times in Seattle, and they have already sold almost 20,000 season tickets. I'd probably rather watch their games on TV though, with the prospect of hearing some more Kevin Calabro these:

“Nobody can do the voodoo like you doo!”

“Two in the cake; one in the pudding” (what??)

"This is a jam fest! Gimme some peanut-butter and we'll make a sandwich!"

But I still don't know what "Get on up for the down stroke" means....


  1. Your observations on Soccer in America is great to see. I want to make sure you fully understand how excited people are in Seattle and Washington as a whole to have a soccer team. They had sold over 16,000 season tickets before they had even signed a player. And the amount of season ticket holders so far is more than they can fit in some other MLS stadiums. But its not suprising from a city who previously sold out Qwest field for Intl. Friendlies.

  2. Saw your post on bigsoccer and am enjoying your Blog. I hope you are in Columbus for the Crew's home opener on 3/28 - It will be a great atmosphere, the Crew are coming off their MLS Cup Championship and Toronto FC will bring a couple thousand fans. If so send me an e-mail - - we'll be tailgating and standing in the Nordecke.

    Safe travels,


  3. Soccer/football in Seattle will never die. We still have some of those old beloved NASL Seattle Sounders living here, including one of your countrymen, Jimmy Gabriel. I've traveled to Britain and have seen a few matches (my side, Sunderland, at old Roker Park) and two FA Cups at old Wembley. I've seen the youth standard played throughout Europe (having taken a few teams over myself) and our kids are as good as any (even though we keep trying to turn the game into the posh sport for upper class white kids whose parents can afford to shell out thousands of dollars to pay washed up soccer bum coaches). If we can organize MLS correctly and properly sort out the 'pyramid' base which will feed the pro leagues, we may someday actually challenge internationally. Hope you enjoy your US trek.

  4. Hi mate, did you party with the Bobster? I miss is wise guy ways and interesting body odours.

    Just love your blog, probably the best thing I've ever read... ever.

  5. I think it's "get up FOR the downstroke," which is a lyric in and the title of a Parliament song, arguably the world's greatest funk band of all time. I think it means "stand up for the music."

  6. Calabro has actually been pretty decent so far calling the Sounders. If I had to guess, I would say that getting up for the downstroke must have something to do with a basketball player getting some serious elevation prior to slamming the ball home. Won't really translate to soccer.

  7. Love the blog, but wanted to clear up one thing you may be confused about. The basketball team in Oklahoma is located in Oklaohoma City, Oklahoma and the nickname is the "Thunder." So, instead of it being the "Oklahoma - City Thunder," it is the "Oklahoma City - Thunder."

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