Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer was playing for Nathan Hale High School in 1980 when he was spotted from the stands by accident.
The coach of the North American Soccer League version of the Sounders, Alan Hinton, was at the game scouting somebody else but liked Schmetzer’s technical style and convinced his boss, general manager Jack Daley, to take a chance on the gangly teenager. Last weekend, shortly after Daley’s death in San Diego at age 82, Schmetzer expressed gratitude for that chance and stressed the need for current fans not to forget names from the past.
“We want to move forward and try to honor people that have done a good job for this club,’’ Schmetzer said. “So, this is my way of just thanking Jack (Daley) for the work that he did way back in my time.’’
To do just that for Daley and other names from Seattle’s soccer past, Schmetzer will speak at an event Tuesday staged by the nonprofit Washington State Legends of Soccer to raise money for its research efforts and recently launched website dedicated to preserving the sport’s history in this state. “A Night with Alan Hinton and Friends’’ is to be hosted by King 5 anchor Mark Wright and feature a roast of former English soccer star and longtime Puget Sound-area coach Hinton by some of the region’s biggest soccer names, including former Sounders goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, defender Jeff Stock, ex-U. S. Men’s National Team member and ESPN/ABC broadcaster Ty Keough and Schmetzer as well.
“My hope is to try and get the fans in our area — who are really, really embracing the Sounders and all aspects of soccer — to embrace or learn from the English system,’’ Hinton, 76, said. “And over there, they frequently have nights out with soccer personalities and they have a roast, or a toast. And it’s well accepted. It’s almost done every week. Roger Davies and Steve Daley, former (British) Sounders, they do it over there almost every week.’’
More than 150 tickets — ranging from $100 to $1,000 — have been sold for the 6 p.m. event at the Kirkland Performance Center, which will feature beer, wine and appetizers provided by Carmine’s restaurant. WA Legends, as the nonprofit is informally known, hopes to raise $30,000 for its various initiatives and a new college-scholarship fund for youth from underserved communities.
Hinton said the group “preserves the great stories of the past, which have led to where we are today with the 40,000 average attendance of the Sounders — which is amazing.’’
A standout English winger from 1961-1975, primarily for Derby County where he won two league titles, Hinton relocated his family to North America following the death of his young son. He went on to play in the NASL for the Dallas Tornado and Vancouver Whitecaps, and coached the Tulsa Roughnecks before Sounders GM Daley hired him behind the bench for the 1980 season.
After reaching the Soccer Bowl title game in 1982, losing to the New York Cosmos, Hinton would go on to coach the Tacoma Stars indoor team following the NASL’s demise. In 1994, he was hired as coach and general manager of the new A-League version of the Sounders — which featured Hahnemann in goal and Schmetzer as a midfielder that initial season — and went on to win the championship in 1995 and 1996.
Hinton plans to talk about those Sounders eras and the Major League Soccer version as well, as well as his 15 years spent as a local youth coach with Crossfire.
“It will be a marvelous night,’’ Hinton said. “I can’t wait to see how it goes so we can say it was great and try to do it again.’’
Hinton said he’s already trying to line up former Sounders goalkeeper and German Bundesliga captain Kasey Keller for the next event. “There are loads of candidates around here. I want to be the start … I just think this is going to work.’’
Frank MacDonald, a local soccer historian who launched WA Legends with a group of former players, said the goal of the evening is to take fundraising “to another level” and bolster the group’s efforts. MacDonald said the group has compiled a fairly extensive history of soccer from the 1960s onward but would like to delve back to periods much earlier the last century.
“That takes time and research and that costs money to pay people to do it right,’’ he said. “It’s so important to preserve the history of the game if we want to understand how we got here and how to move forward.’’
Current Sounders forward Jordan Morris agrees on the importance of preserving the sport’s local history. A Mercer Island product, his first Sounders memories were of watching the United Soccer League squads his dad was the team doctor for throughout last decade.
“So, going to those games and watching Roger (Levesque) and those guys was pretty special,’’ Morris said. “And (Sebastien) Le Toux when he was here, that group. So, all of those guys plus the first MLS group.’’
Still, there remains decades of just Sounders history alone predating that era that Morris is only vaguely aware of. And that’s what Hinton and the WA Legends group hopes next week’s event can begin to address more substantially.