The 36-year-old center back has made more than 350 Sounders appearances over 15 seasons dating back to the club's minor-league era.
Should next Saturday’s MLS Cup final between the Sounders and Toronto FC go into extra time – or, if the soccer gods are feeling especially cruel, a penalty-kick shootout — there will be a multitude of factors at play.
On paper, this looks close to a coin-flip matchup. Toronto had the better regular-season record and has the benefit of home-field advantage at BMO Field. Seattle has been the more balanced team during the postseason, with TFC’s defense having leaked like a sieve throughout the Eastern Conference finals.
Overtime is a distinct possibility based purely on facts and figures.
A personal pet theory: Overtime is a distinct possibility because Zach Scott’s indefatigable career will refuse to die until the very last moment possible.
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Scott announced his retirement from professional soccer at the close of his 15th season back in September, when just making the playoffs was something of a best-case scenario.
This was far from the first time he’d considered the end of the road.
Going all the way back to his first season with the minor-league Sounders in 2002, part of Scott figured he’d be falling back on his math degree from Gonzaga sooner rather than later. Ditto for the conciliatory tryout with the inaugural MLS edition prior to the 2009 season. Sure, he’d give it a shot, but not even Scott imagined he would stick for anywhere near this long.
Scott says he held out mostly so that his three young children would form as many memories of their pops, the soccer player, as possible.
“Well, you guys know my contract,” Scott said of a deal that currently tops out at veteran MLS base of $62,500, “so it definitely wasn’t money. I’ll tell you that.”
The veteran center back has already got a second career lined up with Seattle-based Slalom Consulting. He realized that would have to wait for another few weeks from the moment Jordan Morris’ toe-poke hit the back of the net last Sunday in Commerce City.
Scott was among the potential substitutes warming up along the sideboards, bundled up against a chilly Colorado wind whipping in off the prairie, when the realization began to sink in.
“Once I knew that I was subbing in, at that point I was positive we were going to close it out,” Scott said. “You don’t score goals against three big center backs very often. … We were warming up, and I was kind of processing scenarios – if we scored, if they scored. As soon as we scored, I knew it was going to happen.”
Scott, unlike the majority of his teammates, has previously won a league championship. Under head coach Brian Schmetzer, another Sounder coming full circle with this MLS Cup run, the minor-league version won the 2005 and 2007 USL titles.
Triumphing next weekend in Ontario wouldn’t automatically be any more special just because it would come higher up in the American soccer hierarchy. The significance comes in how long this particular group has sought this singular goal.
“That’s the one thing we haven’t won yet,” said Scott, alluding to the team’s four U.S. Open Cups and solitary Supporters’ Shield. “Our ambition has been to win MLS Cup. It’s to do well in the Champions League, because that’s an international tournament, but first and foremost, it’s winning that Cup, because it’s been so elusive.”
Scott doesn’t sound especially driven by going out on a high. He does sound as though he’s gotten a kick out a playoff run so unlikely when he first decided to call it quits.
“I don’t know if there’s any weight added onto it,” Scott said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to win a couple of championships here — lots and lots of trophies. This is just kind of cake.”