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Seattle meet Houston: American Soccer, Meet Both

Waibel and Freddie

Houston and Seattle have struck up a nice little rivalry in the Sounders first season in MLS. It’s not surprising given the Sounders fans propensity to create a rivalry with just about every opposing side when they were in USL. Now the Sounders have created rivalry tinged with a certain degree of envy among other club supporters since joining MLS. Seattle rightfully has made the rest of the league jealous.

Seattle vs Houston is a natural rivalry. Both are great American cities, but they represent different faces of America. Seattle is new wave, grunge music, Starbucks, Microsoft and Boeing.

Houston is big business, the energy industry, and a city with a remarkable amount of ethnic diversity. Both cities are windows into the future of America, but they represent different visions, socially and culturally.

These differences create unmistakable pressure points. From an economic standpoint, Seattle is not a major hub, while Houston is one of the most important cities in North America. Seattle does however provide inspiration to a generation of Americans whose world is outward looking and whose daily lives are shaped by airplanes, computers and coffee.

Given Houston’s global position, It is little wonder why George Bush Intercontinental Airport has direct flights to places as far flung as Doha, and Guayaquil. It is perhaps the fifth most significant international airport in the nation behind New York (JFK), Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago (O’Hare). (The four listed airports are the acknowledged “big four” international airports in the US, although, recently I have heard of a big three with O’Hare being dropped.)

Houston is a worldly city, though many of the types of people that indentify with Seattle spiritually would claim otherwise. Conversely, Seattle’s entrenched affection for anything built by Boeing, makes the city perhaps the greatest engine on the war machine many American progressives decry.

But Boeing is more than fighter jets. So many of the commercial airplanes that service all the international airports listed and so many airports across the globe were manufactured near Seattle in Everett, Washington.

It’s often been said that Texas could exist without the United States, but the US would not be the same without Texas. Houston is living proof of this adage. Without Houston and the leadership the city has provided, the US could very well be a less prosperous and less diverse place.

From a football perspective, Seattle is European, both in inspiration and in fan behavior. That’s why the Sounders have captured the imagination of so many neutrals whose previous exposure to football was British or European. It’s no coincidence in the NASL days that the Sounders attracted more English players than any other US based side, and while in USL, the Seattle-Portland matchup resembled an English derby.

Houston, on the other hand is one of the few MLS or USL cities where every ethnic group imaginable has been attracted to the ground, without segregating themselves. The Dynamo’s model of attracting support from the broad based ethnic makeup of the region should be the model for US Soccer.

You are much more likely to see the colors of the rainbow wearing Dynamo Orange at Robertson Stadium, than you are likely to see the same cornucopia of people represented wearing US kits when the USMNT plays. Houston has shown supporters the way to build a supporters base throughout the community.

The diversity of Houston’s fan base gives us hope for the future in the United States. This future would see people of all ethnic and immigrant roots embracing local clubs and community. In fact, the Dynamo has demonstrated that football can be a vehicle for integration of disparate immigrant groups.

At the same time, Seattle provides American supporters with a blueprint of how to create a real supporter’s culture that appeals to masses of fans who aren’t necessarily wedded to this sport. Both Houston and Seattle are very different, but can learn from one another, and both can teach the rest of us a lesson or two.

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  1. rob

    November 8, 2009 at 5:22 am

    wow. you couldn’t be more wrong about what seattle is. seriously, could you think up any more false stereotypes? and you definately have been drinking the kool-aid in hackston too long if you think that highly of that slum. shame on you for wasting people’s time with this dribble.

  2. Lovin' Seattle

    November 6, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    Don’t care how OG of a club the Revolution is ….real fans don’t let their team play on hash marks.period.end of story. Oh, and they actually attend games.

  3. Rave Green

    November 6, 2009 at 1:02 am

    Seattle Music:

    Jimi Hendrix, Heart,Nirvana, Soundgarden, Death Cab for Cutie

    Houston Music:
    Billy Preston, ZZ Top, The Ghetto Boys, Beyoncé, Pitbull

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      November 6, 2009 at 7:47 am

      Billy Preston! Good one…………you know he could have been the 5th Beatle…………………….

  4. Rave Green

    November 6, 2009 at 12:44 am

    What’s Seattle done musically in the past 10 years? Seattle is the Electro capital of North America.

  5. Brian Zygo

    November 5, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    In an effort to further clarify to the rest of the country what kind of city Houston is, despite the fact that it is located in the State of Texas, it is a very progressive city, much more so than Dallas. On Tuesday we held a mayoral election and the two candidates that will meet in a run-off election next month do not fit the typical Texas political stereotypes held across the country.

  6. Art

    November 5, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    Give credit for the picture!

    • Brian Zygo

      November 5, 2009 at 7:56 pm

      That picture was taken by Nigel Brooks, lead Hooligan of Houston’s Prawn Sandwich Brigade

  7. Bakes

    November 5, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    Right on, Oscar! You all had a nice sleepy little league until The Sounders came along to shake things up. I don’t know what took the MLS so long to come to Seattle, but I wasn’t surprised by the response from the City. The same thing happened when the NASL Sounders started in 1974. Talk about history… The Sounders will dominate this league for years to come!

  8. Oscar

    November 5, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    12 years old, Spike? As is typical of MLS teams defending their weaker attendance numbers to Sounders fans, I love hearing you defend three years of existence as a “storied history.”

    Jeez, I hope when Portand gets a team I don’t use one higher year of existence as proof of my football clout. I also hope I don’t turn up my nose and claim them ignorant is (Gasp! Blashpemy!) they can actually fill a stadium and actually show enthusiasm or enjoyment about the sport. How is it that Seattle shows up, kicks everyone’s ass for attendance, support and football obsession, and everyone in MLS suddenly defends football as a sport needing a golf-level ettiquette and golf-level excitement, because TOO MUCH enthusiasm shows you don’t understand the game?

    Hope I didn’t speak out of turn, as I know three years of existence shows your towerly wisdom and I should show more sacred care with your hallowed, ancient football traditions. WTF?

  9. Nigel Brooks

    November 5, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    Regardless of whether you believe MikeJ’s view of the Dynamo as a “Johnny come lately club born out of relocation” – the fact remains that the Seattle Sounders are 1st year expansion team, and the Dynamo is a back to back MLS Cup winner whose players prior to relocation had won two MLS cups also. There are two stars above that crest and NO stars above the Seattle crest.

    Great photo of Ljungberg whining to Craig by the way 🙂

    • rob

      November 8, 2009 at 5:26 am

      we have 4 league titles in our loooooong football history. you stole 2 titles from san jose. your team is a disgrace to football and to fandom of all sports everywhere.

  10. spike

    November 5, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    houston has 2 cups in 3 years and has made the playoffs every year of their short club history. oscar is an idiot who must be 12 years old and is new to football/soccer. most of the seattle fans that plague the web have no knowledge of soccer history or soccer facts. most are plastic fans who show up to drink and shout.. either way they fill the stadium and are personally applauded by me. BUT, dont get it twisted… dynamo are a far superior team and seattle will be making plans for next year come monday.

    • rob

      November 8, 2009 at 5:30 am

      yea, oooookay. so superior they’ve yet to beat the sounders in 4 matches, soon to be 5. so superior, that they have 2 LESS league titles and 1 less open up title than the sounders. so superior that they have, 30 some less years of history and tradition. whatever.

  11. Berlin

    November 5, 2009 at 1:46 am

    Sunday, Sunday, Sunday! You’re not in Careywood anymore Sounders. Texas ain’t for the faint of heart. Oh, and Boston, one team, two cups.

  12. Oscar

    November 5, 2009 at 12:13 am

    Face facts Silente, y’all only have gats because its too difficult to throw punches at Houston matches from your wide load rascal scooters. But even then ye couldn’t take a Seattleite. Don’t forget, we’ve got all the best serial killers!

  13. dan

    November 4, 2009 at 11:42 pm

    oh and Sigi

  14. dan

    November 4, 2009 at 11:42 pm

    i like both teams, I grew up in Ohio so my number 1 team is Columbus Crew, Then FC DALLAS, Then Houston Dynamo and finally Seattel Sounder FC. the reason i like the 2 texas teams is because i was born in texas. I like Seattle because Drew Carey is Awsome.

  15. silente

    November 4, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    Oscar, the only pop I hear coming out of the Houston music scene is the pop of a gat. Houston is a major player in rap and hip-hop, particularly of the nasty, violent sort. Ought to sort out your depressed, long-haired losers in no time.

    Damn it feels good to be a gangster.

    • rob

      November 8, 2009 at 5:33 am

      rap is dead. so is houston.

      and if being a phoney, 13 year old, suburban, douchebag is gangsta, then you’re an OG.

  16. post-game burritos

    November 4, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    If Seattle’s such a great market then why’d it take 13 years or whatever for MLS to go there? Obviously Boston, location of MLS’s flagship club from day one, is a better soccer region than either of the second rate shitholes mentioned in this article, with more participants, more knowledgeable fans, and smarter, more culturally sophisticated citizens overall.

  17. Oscar

    November 4, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    Oh yeah, I’ll also say that based on the amount of pro-Seattle to pro-Houston comments thus far, Seattle’s tech-savvy culture clearly competes with Houston’s culture of the exciting new “electricity” phenomenon.

  18. Oscar

    November 4, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    The two cities actually compete for America’s most quantitative live music cultures, with Seattle a clear winner in quality and quantity, but Houston’s awful country-pop helps them catch up to us in quantity.

    Furthermore, Seattle is a beautiful city, which makes us a natural rivalry for the hideous landscape of Houston, which looks like Galactus puked billboards and parking lots everywhere.

    Seattle also frequently ranks highest in most physically fit city in America and most college degrees per capita of any city in America. A natural rivalry for Houston, who proudly sports the most disability via obesity of any big city in America (well, maybe Atlanta).

    Lessee you out-taunt THAT, Houston! Seattle’s gunnin’ for you!

    • todd

      November 5, 2009 at 1:41 am

      houston’s country-pop? what the hell are you talking about? Do you know anything about Houston’s music scene? What’s seattle done in the past 10 years? anything?

      Seattle is a beautiful city no doubt, but Houston has its perks…

      1) After Broadway(NYC), Houston has the highest number of live theater seats/venues in the country. (and we’re not talking honky tonk, we’re talking some of the most exciting innovative drama/theater in the country)

      2) The Largest concentration of Hospitals in the world. The Texas Medical Center is 40 square blocks filled with the WORLDs best cancer and heart medical research, i think its like 35+ hospitals?

      3) The most successful soccer team in the United States in the past 3 seasons.

      • rob

        November 8, 2009 at 5:38 am

        1. 25 cent peep shows don’t count, perv. need all of those hospitals because of all those big mac’s you fatty’s eat.

        3.most successful soccer team? you can’t even beat metapan, loser.

    • TOGID

      November 7, 2009 at 9:27 am

      When I think of America’s most important music cities, I think of places like New Orleans. Detroit. Nashville. Memphis.

      I can’t say Houston has ever belonged in that echelon, and Seattle’s brief appearance there in the early ’90s was just that: brief.

  19. MikeJ

    November 4, 2009 at 6:50 pm


    Absolute garbage. You show less than a superficial understanding of Seattle.

    And while Houston has been a nice plaything for us this year, our natural rivals will not be some johnny come latey club that was born out of relocation (we don’t like when teams do that). Instead we’re looking forward to resuming what we started over 30 years ago with Vancouver and Portland. Houston will do for now but when those two come in – especially Portscum, the natural (rivalry) order will be restored.

    People have said it over and over this year. The rest of the league will not know what hit it when cascadia is intact in MLS. We three fan groups live in the best part of North America for so many reasons including soccer culture and Seattle is the capital.

    • todd

      November 5, 2009 at 1:35 am

      you’re the reason we despise ya’ll MikeJ. Rot in hell you New Jack. (also, Seattle being more of a capital of Cascadia than Vancouver? you don’t even know your own region well. Christ.)

      as someone whose spent multiple summers in Washington State, 10 years in Houston, and 4 years in DC, I applaud the article.

  20. Rex

    November 4, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    Good piece. Can’t wait for the game on Sunday. People forget that Houston has a home atmosphere of their own. Besides Seattle, they are the only team to have had 3 consective 30,000 games (in 2007). Their hasnt been a playoff game in Houston with less than 30k fans since 2006.

    But who cares about the fans. The is about two great teams with lots of big names. It could be a classic.

  21. A Quiet American

    November 4, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    You’ve never been to either city, have you?

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      November 4, 2009 at 2:57 pm

      Been to both, but admittedly have spent more time in Houston.

    • rob

      November 8, 2009 at 5:41 am

      she’s just another gynamo fan trying to convince people to like her.

      sorry kart, no one likes cheaters or whiners. and that’s all hackston is.

  22. Berlin

    November 4, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Great article about two great clubs. What I appreciate most about Seattle has been their ability to back up the hype in their expansion year, unlike Toronto, San Jose, Chivas, etc. I’m very much looking forward to making them crash and burn back to earth here in Houston, but it’s cool to see a city embrace an MLS club and the club to respond in kind. I tip my hat to you Jaquastealers and may you always do well at the expense of other teams.

  23. Charles

    November 4, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    I gave you a thumbs up on the article, but if anyone in Seattle still likes Starbucks after what the CEO/founder did to this city should be shot.
    I will assume that you just didn’t know better.

    I don’t think that Seattle ownership had some magical formula, it was more the team won a lot while in the NASL, developed a following, and then won while part of the A-League/USL.
    BUT I do think the blueprint of why Seattle succeeded away from winning is that way every team needs to go. Somehow, attract fans that aren’t just soccer fans….I should say football fans, as that is what that group of people would say.
    Unfortunately, the supporters shield, the ties ( I mean draws ), the unwillingness to crack down on diving, etc, etc, show me a MLS culture that would rather go after an elusive base of fans that think the league stinks.
    The sooner that MLS realizes that EPL and Euro-leagues are competition the better. We are past the 1970s days of I just hope Americans become more aware of soccer….Kyle Rote Jr ( son of gridiron Sr. ) is 58 now.

    Long live the SuperSonics and Sounders.

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