Despite a Sounders rave green bleed out at Jeld-Wen Field that made the final scene in "Fargo" look like a paper cut, soccer in Seattle is actually alive and well with plenty of action to follow. There's a reason many describe Seattle as "Soccer City USA" and it's not just because the incredible fan support the Sounders enjoy. Five of the city's collegiate teams are getting ready to make runs at national championships. Five! Five teams at three universities all within miles of each other. That amount of success within such a small geographical area may be unique in the country.
On Montlake, Jamie Clark is in his third season as head coach at the University of Washington. His Huskies are ranked second in the nation and with a win at Oregon State on Sunday will claim the Pac-12 Championship -- no easy task in a conference that includes the nation's top-rated team in UCLA. The Dawgs have shown a bite bigger than their bark and have a very good chance to advance beyond their 2nd round exit a year ago.
One of the Huskies' non-conference wins this season came against cross-town rival Seattle University. The Redhawks are no rollovers having just wrapped up the regular season title in the Western Athletic Conference. With that comes the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament and a likely launching to soccer's "Big Dance."
Pete Fewing is in his second stint directing SU's program and is considered one of the top coaches this area has ever seen. Fewing's D-1 newbies might be looking at and hoping for a rematch with the Huskies in the NCAA Tourney.
The soccer success at Seattle U's Championship Field isn't limited to the Fewing's crew. The SU women just won the WAC tournament title and now set their sights on a trip to Portland looking for a much better outcome than the Sounders had in the Rose City. Julie Woodward's club will face perennial powerhouse Portland Saturday night at 7:00. The Redhawks should have plenty of reason to believe they can knock off the Pilots after putting together a 17-2-2 record.
Make the short drive from Seattle U. over to SPU and you'll find two more programs that have punched their tickets into the NCAA's. Chuck Sekyra's Falcons won the women's D-2 title in 2008 and have appeared in two other Final Four's during a run that has seen the Falcons make 11 straight trips to the tournament. They'll open post-season play against Sonoma State in Bellingham, Thursday night at 7:30.
Seattle Pacific's men will head the opposite direction for their first round match-up. Mark Collings club gets another shot at CSU-Chico in San Diego on Thursday at noon. The Falcons fell to the Wildcats in the season opener but followed that setback with a school record 14 game unbeaten streak.
The Sounders are certainly the centerpiece of the Seattle soccer scene, but the early end of their post-season run doesn't mean soccer here is on ice for the next few months. It simply means that if Sounders fans still want a team or teams to pull for; still want to raise their scarves; still want to find some post-season satisfaction, there are five teams that would love the extra support.
Yes, it was an ugly ending for the Sounders, but there are five teams in Seattle still playing the beautiful game.