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EFC Joins with Sounders in Honoring 40-Year Legacy
Sounders Honor 1996 A-League Champions. EFC Coaches Chance Fry and Tom Bialek

(May 8, 2014)  The MLS Seattle Sounders continued to celebrate 40 years of professional soccer in Seattle by honoring the 1996 A-League champion Sounders, which featured our Eastside FC coaches Chance Fry and Tom Bialek, at last night's match versus FC Dallas. Chance Fry is EFC's Director of Operations, while Bialek is the Director of Coaching.  Both played forward for the championship squad. The 1996 Sounders also included two goalkeepers, both parents of Eastside FC players today, and both still involved with the Sounders eighteen yeas later: Marcus Hahnemann and Tom Dutra

Eastside FC youth players have been fortunate over the years to have the involvement of so many former Sounders players as coaches, staff, parents and role models, who've helped elevate the level of the game by sharing their skill, experience and passion for soccer.  The club has also had players who've gone on to play for Sounders teams.  We join with Seattle Sounders FC in honoring forty years of inspired Seattle soccer, as well as the Sounders players who have chosen to give back to the sport by coaching. 

Membership in our Washington Youth Soccer Association, a good barometer of soccer’s popularity amongst youth in our region, has grown tenfold since the early 1970's, an era which saw the debut of both Eastside FC and the Sounders.  We are excited to honor the players singled out last night during the SEA v DAL pregame ceremony, as well as our extended Sounders/Eastside FC family, who've played a role in boosting the sport's popularity in our area.  Following is the rich history of the Seattle Sounders through the lens of our Eastside FC family and extended family members.

The Original NASL Sounders (1974-1983)

Michael SmithCoach Michael Smith of Eastside FC was a senior in high school when professional soccer arrived in Seattle in spring of 1974. He was invited to train with the original Sounders. “Image that; me, a high school kid, taking an extended lunch to do what I love,” says Smith. He signed with the Sounders the spring of 1976, the year they moved “from the comfort of Memorial Stadium to the huge, cold Kingdome. It was exciting to participate in a scrimmage, the historic first athletic event held there.”

At that time, North American Soccer League (NASL) rules required each team to have four American players on the roster. “Competition was fierce,” recounts Smith. “Although I did not get the opportunity to play on the first team, the experience and excitement of playing day-to-day professional soccer was tremendous.” 

Smith eventually took an administrative role with the NASL Sounders.  His most memorable Sounders’ moment was, “sitting at midfield on the staff bench, working game day operations when Kenny Hibbett scored versus Ft. Lauderdale to send the Sounders to Soccer Bowl 1982 in front of a packed house in the Kingdome.”  He also recalls a less jubilant occasion in early September, 1983. “I still remember clearly the staff being called in for a short meeting when the announcement came that the Seattle Sounders would be closing their doors and folding as a club from the NASL.”

Chance FryIn 1982, the Seattle Sounders drafted a young forward, Chance Fry, straight out of Sammamish High School in the first round of the NASL draft.  Fry, a Seattle soccer icon, is currently Eastside FC’s Director of Operations.  His most memorable Sounders’ moments came in his rookie 1983 season, scoring his first three goals as a pro. “We were playing the New York Cosmos at Giants Stadium and we were down 3-1. My coaches, Laurie Calloway and Bobbie Howe, decided to put me in with 7 minutes remaining to give me some experience. First, I stole a back pass and scored. I scored again on a cross to tie the game. Two days later we were in Toronto and they had enough confidence to start me. I scored a goal that Bobby Howe described in the paper as, ‘...a great goal. Pele would have been proud of it.’ I will never forget that,” recounts Fry.  His 14-year storied professional career was off to an incredible start, despite the NASL’s disintegration. 

The A-League/USL-1 Sounders (1994-2008)

When the Seattle Sounders re-appeared in 1994, this time in the A-League, Chance Fry was again on the roster. That year, he scored 11 goals in 18 games and earned 1st Team All-Star honors along with Sounders teammate Marcus Hahnemann, 1994 Goalkeeper of the Year.  Fry and Hahnemann went on to win the league championship with the 1995 Sounders, and Hahnemann repreated as Goalkeeper of the Year. Like Fry, Hahnemann is home grown, having played high school on the eastside.

Kei KinoshitaAs his most memorable Sounders moment, Eastside FC Coach Kei Kinoshita describes the time he and his Vissel Kobe team from Japan faced off against the Sounders, includingt Fry and Hahnemann, in Seattle on November 19, 1995, in a friendly organized to benefit the Kobe earthquake disaster relief effort. The Sounders won 3-2 that day, but the game was about more than the goal tally. “We can learn so many things from soccer,” Kinoshita waxes philosophically. “I want youth players to know that soccer makes people connect with each other, on and off the field, beyond language and cultural barriers and national borders.” Kinoshita’s life choices are a testament to the connections he made through soccer. He went on to play with the A-League Sounders beginning in 1997 for four seasons, the first professional Japanese player to play professionally in the US. When asked what led him to Eastside FC, he says simply, “Because Chance asked me.”

Tom BialekTom Bialek and Tom Dutra signed with the Sounders the following year, and helped the team bring the cup home again in 1996. Bialek had been a standout at Newport High School and the University of Washington before finding his way to the Sounders. As a youth coach, Bialek has since developed a reputation for being able to get the best from his teams, leading them to state, regional and national championships. Dutra played two of four seasons in the A-League with the Sounders.

Fry retired after the 1997 season, the A-League’s all-time leading goal scorer, second overall in points. He stayed involved in the game, however, finding a new calling through coaching and management roles at the youth, high school, college, national and professional levels. He had grown up playing for Lake Hills, and found he wanted to return to his “home” organization, which landed him at Eastside FC.

Goalkeeper and EFC parent Bill May, joined the Seattle Sounders in 1999, and saw 26 games from between the posts. Of playing with the Sounders, he says, “Of course, I have memories of triumph and failure, but what I remember most is working together as a team toward a common goal.” Upon retiring from pro soccer, he also found coaching as a way to give back at the youth and college levels. “I hope young players today can benefit from their involvement with soccer in a similar way that I did.” He says of Eastside FC, "Aside from being close to home, I really enjoy the balance Eastside FC has found between fostering a love for the game, developing kids on and off the field, and winning."

Defender Danny Huet of the 2002 Sounders coached at Eastside FC for 9 years.

A University of Washington defender from Redmond, Scott Jenkins, signed with the Sounders in 1997, and enjoyed 224 appearances through 2005.  His most memorable moment with the team came with the last play of the last game of his last season. “(It) would have to be scoring the winning penalty kick in the 2005 Final to win the USL First Division Championship. It was a great game and a great way to wrap up a career.” Jenkins has since coached for Eastside FC and Sounders Youth, and is now a proud parent of an Eastside FC player. He chose Eastside FC “because of the people involved and the club’s commitment to doing things right.”

Former Eastside FC Coach Chad Brown began his career with the Seattle Sounders in 2000, and remained  through the 2005 USL First Division championship.

Former Eastside FC Coach Danny Jackson was a Sounder from 2003-2008, and was a team captain for all but his first season when he was named a USL A-League First-Team All Star.  He was with the Sounders for two USL Championships, in 2005 and 2007. In 2007, the team claimed its fourth championship title with a 4-0 blowout against the Atlanta Silverbacks at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila.

Colin RigbyEastside FC Coach Colin Rigby, who grew up playing on Mercer Island, went on to play at Seattle Pacific University after a 2-year stint at University of Denver.  He, too, was with the 2007 USL Championship team. “Soccer was such an important part of my youth and I want to give others similar experiences and helping build a successful community soccer program,” says Rigby.  He not only coaches for Eastside FC’s younger players, but also coaches in the Seattle Sounder Youth Developmental Program and at Mercer Island High School.

MLS Sounders (2009-present)

Tom Dutra is a goalkeeper coach for today’s MLS Sounders, and cites “celebrating our third Open Cup title in 2011 at the Clink with my family and two future Eastside FC players, Tanner and Maggie” as one of his proudest SSFC moments.  As an aside, he also adds, “I often tell SSFC players I get to watch the real players at Preston!”

In 1999, Marcus Hahnemann left the A-League for England, where he enjoyed a stellar career, rising to the pinnacle of the world game in the Championship and Premier Leagues, most notably with Reading and Wolverhampton.  He returned to the MLS Sounders in 2012, where he plays today.

USL W-League Seattle Sounders Women

As it happened on the men’s side, so too on the women’s:  former Sounders players and coaches found their way to Eastside FC, and vice versa. Chance Fry served as Head Coach and General Manager upon the inauguration of the Seattle Sounders Women’s program in 2000 through 2002; Tom Bialek served as Assistant Coach that same period. On that early team Fry and Bialek coached defender Jennifer Birks, who eventually coached at Eastside FC. They also coached former EFC youth player, goalkeeper Lindsey Jorgensen, who coaches at the collegiate level today.

Tom BunnellTom Bunnell, currently an EFC parent and goalkeeper coach, served as Assistant Coach and Goalkeeper Coach for the Sounders Women under three different head coaches, from 2002-2004, and again from 2010-2011. Tom remembers the first goal scored in the first-ever sporting event at Qwest stadium in July, 2002:  it was by the Sounder’s women, who played their inaugural match before the men.

University of Washington defender Kelli Smith, who coached for Eastside FC, played for the Sounders Women from 2004-2011. Sanya Jenkins, a current EFC parent, also played for the Sounders Women. Kate Deines, who played Eastside FC premier youth soccer under Tom Bialek, also played with the Women Sounders for the 2007-2009 and 2012 seasons.

Michelle FrenchMichelle French, a US Women’s National Team standout who coached for Eastside FC from 2005-2013, played midfield for the Seattle Sounders Women in 2004 when she was the W-League assist leader, and picked up again from 2006 through 2009.  She went on to become Head Coach of the W-League team from 2012 to 2013, before landing the coaching spot for the US U20 Women's National Team.

Forty Years of Sounders in Seattle

As is the case at other Seattle-area youth soccer clubs, Eastside FC would not be the club it is today without the former Sounders players and staff who share their enthusiasm for the beautiful game and dedicate their time and energy to raising the level of youth soccer in our region. The results are palpable: a handful of EFC players have made it to the pros (but, there is yet to be an MLS Sounder amongst them); a half dozen youth players from Eastside FC recently found their way to Sounders Academy soccer; one plays on the Sounder's U23 team, and more of our players find college roster spots on men’s and women’s squads nationwide.  More telling is the soccer mania evidenced at any Sounders’ match today.  Much of it derives from our thriving local youth soccer community, a legacy built, in part, by two generations of Sounders players working through organized youth soccer.

The championship squads from the 1995, 1996, 2005 and 2007 Sounders are being honored by the MLS Sounders during this 40th-anniversay season.  Our Eastside FC coaches, staff, friends and families will be well represented amongst them.  We join with the Sounders in commemorating the contributions of their organization and alumni to the beautiful game in and around Seattle.

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(This article is by Leanne Thomas. We hope we have not left anyone out, but if so, please let us know by sending us an email at webmaster@eastsidefc.org.)