On Sunday, team captain Adrian Webster and others from the 1977 team will reunite at CenturyLink Field to commemorate the 40th anniversary of their illustrious campaign, which ended with a 2-1 loss to legend Pele and the New York Cosmos.
Four decades later, Adrian Webster still gets goose bumps reliving his greatest Sounders moments.
It was the 1977 playoffs, and team captain Webster’s third-place Sounders had pulled off a string of upsets to qualify for that year’s Soccer Bowl title game.
The still-fledgling franchise was making its first North American Soccer League championship appearance and despite eventually falling 2-1 to the New York Cosmos in legend Pele’s final game, Webster believes the seeds were sown for this region’s love affair with the sport.
Minnesota @ Sounders, 7 p.m., FS1
“I think the pinnacle was the semifinal when we had 56,000 in the Kingdome,” said Webster, in town and at a Sounders workout Thursday, said of the two-game series win over the Los Angeles Aztecs. “We’d gone to L.A., beaten them 3-1 and then came home and finished the job. It was just electric, the crowd. And I think that was always one of the highlights for me — the relationship with the fans. It was incredible.’’
Most Read Sports Stories
- Seahawks QB Russell Wilson looking forward to new OC Shane Waldron's 'super complex' offense in action
- From Husky Stadium to the 'Seven Summits', Mark Pattison is always climbing
- Russell Wilson and his clichés are back — and so, apparently, is his commitment to the Seahawks
- Kraken picks new restaurant name at practice facility following lawsuit from punk-rock bar
- What Seahawks QB Russell Wilson had to say after OTAs
On Sunday, Webster, 65, and others from that team will reunite at CenturyLink Field to commemorate the 40th anniversary of their illustrious campaign during the Sounders’ game against Minnesota United FC. For Webster, the popular right back and midfielder known as The Shadow during six seasons here, this marks his first trip to Seattle from his native England in nearly 26 years.
“I’ll probably find it pretty hard to put into words,” Webster said of reconnecting with former teammates. “I think it’s going to be a bit emotional for me.”
Among those expected for the event, organized by the Sounders and the Washington State Legends of Soccer group, include forward Davey Butler, also flying in from England. Goalkeeper Tony Chursky, midfielder Jimmy Gabriel, ex-Huskies stars Ward Forrest, Paul Mendes and Denny Buck and longtime Seattle-area residents Dave Gillett, Bobby Howe and Darrell Oak also will be there.
Dave D’Errico, the team’s initial first-round draft choice in 1974 — who got traded midway through 1977 and wasn’t around for the Soccer Bowl — also is expected to make it up from Texas.
They’ll engage in festivities ahead of Sunday’s game, meeting fans at The Ninety in Pioneer Square, then participating in a “Soccer Celebration’’ outside CenturyLink Field. After, they’ll move inside for the traditional Golden Scarf ceremony right before kickoff and then head up to the Soccer Bowl ’77 VIP Suite Experience — where Legends of Soccer has sold out 38 available seats in a private suite. Fans can mingle with the ex-players to help the Legends group raise funds to establish a permanent website and online museum.
“We just think it’s important to celebrate our history, keep it alive and acknowledge those who went before us,” Legends co-founder Frank MacDonald said. “I’ll tell you, as a fan in 1977, I was 17 years old and that playoff run that year was much like the 1995 Mariners were. They were a team that just caught fire at the end just to make the playoffs, and they pretty much ran the table.’’
After the Soccer Bowl, as a high-school senior in Centralia, MacDonald and some other like-minded soccer players had organized their school’s first team. They arranged a soccer pep rally at the school and phoned the Sounders to ask whether they could send players down to participate.
“We were 90 miles away, so it was a big ask,” MacDonald said. “And they said, ‘Sure, we’ll send somebody’ and I’m thinking it will be the bench guys. But it was four starters — Adrian (Webster) he was one of them. And they just had the place rocking.”
Webster said Thursday the team that fall was still upset over having not made the 1976 Soccer Bowl at the Kingdome — beaten in the quarterfinal by the Minnesota Kicks, who wound up losing the championship game to Toronto Metros-Croatia.
“That was disappointing, because it would have been at home in front of our home fans,’’ Webster said. “If we’d have made it, the stadium would have been packed, and it would have given us an edge.’’
The 1977 final was at least a regional home game, with thousands of Seattle fans traveling to Civic Stadium in Portland. The Sounders played well in the first half, but an early mistake by keeper Chursky led to Stevie Hunt knocking the ball from his hands and putting it in the net for the game’s opening goal.
And though the Sounders equalized minutes later on a Tommy Ord goal to go to halftime 1-1, Webster said there was a sense in the locker room they should have been ahead. Things stayed tied until the 78th minute, when Hunt took a throw-in and sent a cross to Italian star Giorgio Chinaglia in the box that was headed home to give the Cosmos their victory.
Though disappointed at the time, Webster looks back on the game with perspective. He recently retired in his English hometown of Colchester, having undergone successful surgery for bowel cancer 18 months ago.
“To get to play in the final against the New York Cosmos, Pele, (Franz) Beckenbauer and Carlos Alberto — three World Cup winners — was just a boyhood dream,” he said. “Never did I ever think I would get the opportunity to play with and against some really great players. So, it was special.”
And for one more night, he and the players who made that memory will get to relive it.