The Most Fun Soccer Match of the Year

Steve Zakuani Charity Match raised money at Starfire Stadium

May 20, 2016
Zakauni And Friends Charity Match

Photos by Jane Gershovich / Sounders FC

Some of the biggest names in the history of Major League Soccer joined a ton of former Sounders FC players for one of the most fun Sundays of soccer on record last Sunday!

LA Galaxy and U.S. National Team legend Landon Donovan and Canadian legend Dwayne De Rosario hold the records for goals scored for their countries. Both of those dudes took the field. Add in Sounders favorites Roger Levesque, Mike Fucito, James Riley, the very handsome Taylor Graham, and star of the afternoon, Marcus Hahnemann and you’ve got a lot of locker room camaraderie on the field.

Before the first whistle!
Photos by Jane Gershovich / Sounders FC

Photos by Jane Gershovich / Sounders FC

The first Sounders FC match I ever watched, also the first in the MLS era, I caught from a couch in Las Vegas. It’s a terrible town I lived in for less than a year while trying to get out of radio unemployment. The company brought me to Seattle for an interview/tryout for The End and everywhere I looked I saw two things - Sounders FC and Ken Griffey Jr. plastered on every shop door, billboard, bus stop. How cool.

Now, seven years later, a Sounders FC fan “‘til I die”, I found myself reading an email from Sounders FC Brodcast Director Ryan. He needed two dummies to come to Starfire Stadium and commentate on a soccer match for charity. “DUH, RYAN, WE’LL TOTALLY DO THIS!!!” is what I wanted to write, but you gotta play it cooler than that… right? RIGHT?

by Katie P

The Zakuani and Friends Charity Soccer Match presented by Adidas and benefitting Kingdom Hope: a tagline I’ll likely never forget. Steve Zakuani, picked first by the Sounders in the 2009 MLS Superdraft quickly became a fan favorite for his terrier-like quickness and eye for goal. Sadly, after a disgusting challenge and subsequent horrible sounding leg break - the noise was awful - Steve never managed to get his career rolling again. He stepped down after a few years of trying, instead opting to join the Sounders FC television broadcast team.

This day couldn’t have been cooler thanks to everyone who played. It was effectively a large portion of the (non-designated player) roster from those early MLS Sounders FC seasons. Most of these dudes have gone on to do other things, but as they trotted out from the locker room, fans lined the barriers and everyone, even Donovan stopped to sign stuff and take pictures.

Donovan is a great guy
Photos by Jane Gershovich / Sounders FC

Photos by Jane Gershovich / Sounders FC

Once on field for warm-ups, I got the biggest hug of appreciation from Steve which made me feel like I could commentate the World Cup final in Qatar (I can’t). Guys warm up with the wrong squads, chasing each other and horsing around on the pitch. On the far touchline, Landon Donovan finds a kid who can’t be more than 10 to get some passing practice - it was the cutest as the kid couldn’t believe it.

Things get underway at Starfire Stadium. It’s hard to write a better story than having the guy who’s name is on the charity event open up the scoring -  pretty certain it’s in his contract or something. No one could do much until Zakuani put one in for the Blue team… And we’re off!

Celebrating a goal by SSFC Dir of Youth Development, Darren Sawatsky
Photos by Jane Gershovich / Sounders FC

Photos by Jane Gershovich / Sounders FC

The specifics of watching Donovan nutmeg Eddie Johnson, or a brilliant headed goal from former Sounders FC right back James Riley are too many to count, but the best highlight of the day came in the second half when former Sounders FC keeper, Marcus Hahnemann, about to be overtaken by Michael Tetteh, reached out with both arms, bear hugged/lifted the midfielder into the air, and slammed him back down to Earth with the force of a dinosaur-killing meteor signalling the next ice age. Get a warm coat.

Tackle: American Football Style
Photos by Jane Gershovich / Sounders FC

Photos by Jane Gershovich / Sounders FC

Based on crowd reaction, it had to be the biggest highlight of the entire afternoon, and not just because of the massive Steiner brothers body slam, the Legion of Boom bone-crushing fun, but also because the impact zone was just inside the penalty box forcing the ref to blow for a penalty kick.

Bring on red team secret weapon, Seahawks kicker, Steven Hauschka!

Watching it in replay, I’m extra thankful that keeper and man-bun expert, Jordan Jennings, didn’t get a hand on that ball as it travelled at near supersonic speeds. It most likely would have torn his arm clean off!

All in all, we saw some pretty fun stuff, some big names in Sounders FC history, and got to talk to some of the most fun soccer fans all while supporting a great cause. Hopefully they don’t go back and listen to our commentary because I’d like to be invited back next year!

Full video (minus the first 9 minutes that got cut off)

Post game photo of old friends!
Photos by Jane Gershovich / Sounders FC

Photos by Jane Gershovich / Sounders FC

A couple dummies with Steve Zakuani
by Gregr