I’ve always had a slight anti-soccer bias, most likely because my only firsthand experiences with the game involved daily beatings from my teammates after practice in the one and only season I played as a kid. Mom and Dad made me join the team (the Fightin’ Irish of the Hoffman Estates, Ill., rec league) because they thought it’d help me make some friends (it didn’t), but it made me into an outcast because the other kids thought I sucked (I did). Apparently no one wants to be friends with the guy who puts the ball in his own team’s net.
But 20 years later, I’m learning to let go of my pre-pubescent loathing for the so-called world’s greatest game, and I owe it all to the Sounders FC’s inescapable, "Join us, or we’ll shoot the dog" brainwashing media blitz. (Bullying turned me off of soccer as a kid, but it’s turning me on to it now. Progress!) And now that I’ve patched things up with the pitch, I’m discovering that there’s more than one game in town. Specifically, we have a new Premier Development League team, the Seattle Wolves FC, which plays its first game tonight, in Yakima.
Now, the PDL is an amateur league, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bunch of clueless kids scoring on the wrong goals: The Wolves are flush with local college talent, and they just added Ely Allen, a former UW soccer standout and Pac 10 Player of the Year, to the roster. (Oh yeah, and he played alongside David Beckham with the MLS’s L.A. Galaxy last year and scored his first pro goal off an assist from Becks.) I talked to Allen last night, and aside from being excited to be back in Seattle and close to his mom’s home cooking again, he’s got high hopes for the season. "This team is a lot better than I expected it to be," he says. "I think we’ve got a really good chance to compete."
That’s the first reason to check out the Wolves this season (they’re first home game, at Starfire Stadium, is next Wednesday). And the second? Tickets start at $4.