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New MLS Team in Seattle:  Please, Anything but Seattle United!

By Andrew Winner
The Talisman

UPDATE: All is good in the world as Seattle has gone with their history and picked Seattle Sounders FC.

MLS Final Predictions

By now you’ve heard – the MLS is expanding to Seattle. Personally, I couldn’t be more thrilled. I know how hard many people, especially Adrian Hanauer, have worked for this over the past several years and I share in the excitement.

The ownership group signed the papers on Friday afternoon and the official announcement, delivered from the top floor of Washington’s tallest building on a glorious Seattle day, came yesterday.

Since this enterprise is all of five days old, several details still need to be ironed out. The foremost detail? This squad, which is scheduled to take the field in 16 months, still doesn’t have a name.

Far and away, that’s been the most-asked question since the official announcement. Brian Schmetzer, who coached the Seattle Sounders to the USL-1 title just a month ago and will lead them into USL play in 2008, is just one of many people involved in the project to get peppered with name-related questions.

At the press conference, the ownership group encouraged fans to submit naming ideas via a new website, www.MLSInSeattle.com. There’s precedent for this – in the mid 1970s, the name “Seahawks” was chosen after a similar naming contest for the Seattle’s expansion NFL team produced over 20,000 responses.

"The vision for this team is a truly international brand -- an authentic team. The name will reflect that," Hanauer said. "It will speak to soccer and it will speak to the city."

What will become of the name “Sounders?” Hard to say, but I left today with the feeling it would either 1) stay with the USL team if they are relocated for the 2009 season, which is a possibility or 2) pass into history as a historical footnote, a sacrifice at the altar of progress.

Incidentally, I think that would be a great name for the MLS team, simply because it’s unique to area and brings with it a history and character. However, I don’t think that name will work simply because no one really knows what a Sounder is. (Incidentally, the name comes from the large body of salt water in the Pacific Northwest, Puget Sound. Hence, someone from the area could be called a Sounder.)

Since the ownership group talked about raising interest in the area and then into Asia, I’d imagine a more universal name will win out in the end. Something like Tigers, but better.

What do I think? I am going public with my suggestion: The Seattle Aviators. Consider the following:

• Drew Carey’s marching band could wear flightsuits
• The cheerleaders could wear aviator sunglasses
• The ultras could be called the “A-V Club” (kind of a stretch, I know)
• There are about a million synonyms for aviators – great for the guys who think up headlines at newspapers
• The northwest is home to many military bases – including McChord Air Force Base. Can you say flyovers?
• Sponsorship from companies like Alaska Airlines or Boeing would be a natural fit
• It’s already been successful – the short-lived Seattle Pilots went by a similar name before moving to Milwaukee to become the Brewers

Just a thought. I’m just riffing here.

What’s that? You have a better idea, you say? By all means, I encourage you to comment with any names you might find suitable.

Here are some guidelines to get the creative juices flowing. The owners want the franchise’s name to incorporate the following concepts:

• International (MLS Commissioner Don Garber mentioned the area’s “exploding Asian community that is ecstatic about soccer.”)
• Meaningful to the region and city
• Soccer-centric

(It’s the last one that scares me, by the way. I think Real Salt Lake is a travesty of a team name – so contrived, so fake, and for all you Holden Caulfields out there, so “phony.” Hence the title of this column – I woke up last night in a cold sweat thinking of “Seattle United.” Ugh. It’s just so bland and faceless that it might not offend anyone and therefore be chosen.)

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to submit my idea at www.MLSInSeattle.com

Notes:

I agree with SI.com’s Greg Lalas when he says Nate Jaqua should be suspended for this game for his horror elbow against Kansas City’s Jack Jewsbury.

However, Lalas referring to a character in Vision Quest as “Shooter” in same article is unforgivable; his name is Shute.

Predictions:

Well. Last week I promoted the Dynamo to repeat based on the heroics of Brian Ching. Now with his health in doubt, I still like the Dynamo’s chances. Why? Two reasons:

1. I’m really high on Ching’s odds-on replacement, Joseph Ngwenya. The midseason acquisition from Columbus is a different player to be sure, but I’m confident his work rate behind Jaqua will lead to the all-important first goal. In addition, Dwayne De Rosario will have his hands full in the midfield and having Ngwenya, who is comfortable playing a withdrawn striker in a 4-5-1 formation, will help relieve the pressure.

2. Richard Mulrooney is still ably deputizing for Ricardo Clark in the midfield.

If you’ll remember, Clint Dempsey was in a similar situation to Ching one year ago. He came on in the second half to provide a spark but you could tell he was dragging one leg. Unfortunately I see the same results from Ching, who looks like he might be relegated to the bench for the start.

*Plus, Joseph Ngwenya scored one of the best goals of the season.  If he comes close to duplicating this goal in the final, say goodbye to New England.

At the end of the day, I still like Houston’s chances – just a lot less than I did a week ago. My gut leads me to believe Houston’s defense will be able to keep the Revs out of the net.

At any rate, I’m looking forward to another cracker – last season’s final was unforgettable. I highly recommend all of you West-Coasters get out of bed for this one.


Andrew Winner is a freelance soccer writer based in Seattle, Washington. He can be reached at: andrewwinner@gmail.com


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