It’s not just the Seattle Sounders: UW men's soccer is #1 in the country
This Sunday, Seattle hosts the MLS Cup and the UW men's soccer team is poised to clinch the Pac-12 title.
UW Coach Jamie Clark says there's just something special about soccer in the Seattle area right now, whether it’s Sounders fans or youth players.
Sounders can fill out a 70,000 person stadium and youth programs in the area bring in hundreds of thousands of participants in the game, Clark said.
Around 60 percent of Clark's recruits come from Washington state. Clark also said the level of play for average youth players in the region has improved a lot over the last decade.
“There’s so many good players coming from Washington that it makes it easy to serve the state and be successful at the same time,” Clark said.
Currently the Sounders roster includes a number of players who grew up playing in the area, including forward Jordan Morris, who also plays for the U.S. men’s national team. Two former Huskies, Cristian Roldan and Handwalla Bwana, also now play for the Sounders.
“There’s a few other regions in the country that will vie for soccer supremacy, but I don't think anyone can compare,” Clark said.
Even though soccer is not close to being the number one sport in the United States, it's definitely on the rise in a few regions in the United States, including the Northwest. The population in the greater Seattle area, where soccer is now so big, is actually comparable to small soccer powerhouse nations like Uruguay.
Clark expects to see more talented players emerge from this area if the enthusiasm for the sport continues to grow. But he also notes that there will still be very few elite players, despite what some of the more enthusiastic parents in the area may hope.
Washington is currently number one in the NCAA/United Soccer Coaches poll. The team's record is 14-1-0, which is the best start the team has had since 1982.
Washington can actually clinch the Pac-12 title on Thursday afternoon with a win over California and a loss or tie by Stanford at Oregon State. If that doesn't pan out, the Huskies just need to win or tie when they face their biggest rival Stanford at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Kickoff for the Sounders game is at noon Sunday at CenturyLink Field. Seattle Sounders tickets sold out within minutes. Resale prices start at over $200.
But Huskies tickets are still available: $5 for kids, and $10 for adults.
The UW women's team is currently in fourth place in the PAC-12 and plays Friday against Washington State before heading into the NCAA tournament.
Reign FC, the area's NWSL team, made it again to post-season play, but lost in the semi-finals a couple weeks ago.