TUKWILA – The sight of Sounders FC’s Zach Scott putting in extra work at practice is common. But one day the drills hardly seemed suited for a defender, at least to the eyes of assistant coach Brian Schmetzer.
“What are you practicing that for?” Schmetzer asked. “You’ll never do that in a game.”
“But I want to get better as a player,” Scott responded. “I want to maximize what I have.”
With that relentless work ethic, it’s easy to see how Scott has been a reliable contributor the past decade for the Sounders, from the lower leagues to MLS. And the 32-year-old quietly reached a milestone of longevity in his most recent game.
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Scott’s start June 8 against the rival Vancouver Whitecaps marked his 263rd appearance for the Sounders across all leagues and competitions. That is most of anyone dating to 1974 and the old North American Soccer League, according to Frank MacDonald, a local historian and former director of communications for Sounders FC.
“I didn’t realize that at all,” said Scott, boasting a wide grin, when told of the record. “That’s great. To be honest, I never pictured my career even lasting this long.”
According to MacDonald, the previous record of 262 games was held by Scott Jenkins, a Redmond native who played his entire professional career here in the A-League and United Soccer Leagues from 1997 to 2005.
Scott, who played in the USL from 2002 to 2008, hasn’t been counting.
“If I can help the team win games and I can still be an asset, then that’s all I want to do,” he said. “I’ve always heard that if you never hear a defender’s name on the field or from an announcer, then they must be having a good game. That’s always my goal — to get out of the game without anybody noticing me.”
Schmetzer said Scott’s record for games played should “absolutely” resonate.
“It shows what hard work does,” Schmetzer said. “And everybody says it, ‘Work hard. Work hard. Work hard,’ but Zach has always managed to outwork a lot of people.”
Coach Sigi Schmid added: “It shows that he’s been a great servant of this club and he’s had a great career in Seattle.”
Consistency in practice and taking advantage of game opportunities has kept Scott in the good favor of coaches, as well. Scott has started the team’s past two games at center back and could even see time at right back on the road Saturday at Real Salt Lake with regular starter DeAndre Yedlin away with the U.S. for the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Scott’s play-anywhere, do-anything mentality has also made him a fan favorite. No one, it seems, more clearly exhibits a “Sounders ’til I die” mentality and that might be most evident on Scott’s Twitter feed. After a June 1 game at Chivas USA, he posted — and later deleted — that referee Ricardo Salazar hates the team.
Another tweet, this time from Wednesday, read:
Is there any way Portland and LA can both lose tonight? I can’t decide which team I dislike more. #rewritetherules
And now there’s a statistic that illustrates Scott’s standing in Sounders history.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @joshuamayers.