The Seattle Sounders FC are an expansion team. The Sounders have been immensly succesful in their first season of play.
At least part of their success has to go to their amazing fans. Sounders fans spend the entire 90-plus minute game on their feet, waving flags, chanting, singing, and holding scarfs over their heads. They pack Qwest Field, and spend the entire game cheering on Freddy Montero and Nate Jacqua, booing players on the opposing teams.
Seattle Sounders fans give off enough energy to rival Manchester United fans at Old Trafford.
The best part about this for Sounders fans is that their team is in contention for an MLS Cup in their first season of play. An expansion roster in the MLB or NBA or NHL or NFL would never be in contention for a championship in their first season of play.
American soccer fans were treated to the first ever Sounders game at Qwest Field, as it was aired on ESPN on March 16, 2009. The Sounders won the game 3-0 behind Montero, who scored the first goal in the game.
Young Sounders fans could've been influenced to follow the game by the kit sponsorship going to XBOX 360. An 11-year-old kid could be watching TV, and on come the Sounders, with XBOX 360 written across their chests. The kid would be like, "That team's cool because they like XBOX."
Expect large fan (and player) rivalries when the Portland Timbers and Team Vancouver join the MLS in 2010. Seattle's smack in the between Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, British Columbia. Rivalries between all three teams should materialize, boosting soccer in the northwest and both the United States and Canada. If the MLS brass really want to heat up the potential Sounders-Timbers rivalry, they'd con Sony into putting PlayStation 3 on the Timbers' kits, so XBOX fans could but heads with PlayStation fans. But that's just a thought.
You have to wonder, if the Seattle Sonics NBA team hadn't bolted Seattle for dustier pastures in Oklahoma City, would the Sounders have this much fan (and field) success? Are the Sounders really just catching Sonics fans off the rebound (pun intended)?
The answer: No. NBA is fast-paced and teams are constantly scoring. In soccer, there is rarely lots of scoring (no more than 2-4 goals per game), and the action is relatively spread out. That's not saying that the Sounders have helped heal the wound of the Sonics leaving, it's just not nearly the same sport.
More and more people are being drawn towards the MLS. Maybe it's because of David Beckham, maybe it's because Team USA beat the Spanish at the Confederations Cup, or maybe they just need a new sport. But there is no doubting the Sounders are definitley helping propel the MLS and the entire sport of soccer up the sports totem pole in the United States... and perhaps soon in Canada.