ECS Co-President Greg Mockos is writing a history of the ECS in the MLS era. June's Newsletter allowed you to catch up on what we were doing back in 2008. This month, he recaps the historic inaugural 2009 MLS season. What a year.


The inaugural season for Sounders FC was jam-packed with incredible moments, historic firsts for our club, and for our supporters group as well. The Sounders kicked off their expansion season with a record setting slew of results. That 3-0 drubbing at Qwest Field was an emotional night. ECS deployed its first large scale tifo display. I recall watching replays of the NYRB defenders cupping their hands around their ears so that they could hear the bench. It was loud; it was a first for MLS. Garber was nearly in tears: "This is what I always dreamt MLS to be like."


It was a great season, but it was also a season of growing pains for our group. We had started the first few home games with the Soundwave in the front of 122 and the ECS was getting solid participation from half of 122. The front half. Lot of new faces, lot of novelty to supporter culture. Lots of drama. We could get our staple chants going and people clapped along but it wasn't until half way through the season that we were able to get the whole stadium going with the "Seattle!….Sounders!" call and repeat. We had just sold our 300th membership before game day and on March 19, 2009 we sold over 100 memberships at Fuel. And Sounders fans kept joining by the hundreds over the home games that whole season.

At the time, we sold memberships at Fuel for our 21+ crowd, and at McCoys for the under 21 crowd. It was hard to keep memberships on the shelves! We didn't even have a real capo stand yet. The two main things we fought for was to get a capo stand and an upper capo stand, as well as relocating the band, merely because our style of support was not conducive to being used on conjunction with the band – something the front office had hoped we could have "worked out".

The styles were (and are) so different that, after long pressing for it, the band was relocated to the opposite side of the stadium, giving us more breathing room. We also managed to finally get our small capo stand (the black PVC one) in the front. This same capo stand is now moved up to the top of 122 for the top capos (aka Topos).

In March, ECS launched its new website (our current version with different graphics). We had also just updated our forums to expand online community and discussion. Keith Hodo was still shipping out membership packages from his garage, and we had a skeleton leadership team. We also started getting known for our viewing parties: raucous supporters packed in a bar chanting at a television. Viewing parties were great recruiting grounds, and still are to this day. The novelty of the Sounders in 2009 really packed our viewings where we sold memberships.

It was at these viewing parties that most of the current leadership actually got to connect with and meet the leadership people at the time. In fact, game days were too hectic and it was nearly impossible to get to know people at Fuel pregame or in the section at the stadium. The viewing parties in 2009 are truly one of the main avenues through which the embryonic core fibers of this group were sewn. Talents and skillsets were identified amongst our members and meeting these excellent supporters allowed the group to re-organize in the 2009/2010 offseason for a huge season in 2010.

2009 was also a year in which we nailed down our tifo personnel and learned about techniques that best suited our style of tifo. To wrap up the season, we displayed two massive displays back to back. These were some of the largest MLS had ever seen at this time including the largest flag display in MLS history.

In 2009, we also exploded on the scene with awesome travel. This was something that caught the MLS off-guard. They had never seen a supporter group organize trips that consistently brought tens to hundred of supporters to EVERY MLS game. Arthur Kim at the time organized travel and, thanks to our traveling numbers and the growing traveling support in MLS as a whole, MLS actually had to generate away traveling rules and standardize their policies. They had never anticipated traveling supporters in these numbers this early in the league's history (maybe they had no clue at all, but I will give them the benefit of the doubt). To tack onto that thought, in fact, in 2009 MLS was not familiar at all with supporter groups. Surely there were some large groups (Barra Brava, Section 8, Garden State Supporters, etc.); however, MLS did not then appreciate the added value of supporter groups.

The 2009 MLS season for the Sounders and the atmosphere that the ECS was able to help create opened eyes in MLS HQ and they started understanding that supporter groups are a vital component of the league and its future growth. This thought culminated at the Supporters Summit at the 2009 MLS Cup, which Seattle hosted. During the summit, the league put massive emphasis on the importance of supporter groups like it had never before. In a way, the successes of Toronto, followed up by those of Seattle cemented the concept in the minds of league officials.

2009 was a good year. A learning year for us as a group. We were able to understand the general areas in which we operated and we started to formalize our organizational structure and expand our leadership team setting up a very busy 2010 offseason.

Keep on the lookout for Part 3 on ECS in MLS history in next month's newsletter, covering the 2010 season.

Thank you for your continued support!