Why the Sounders Need a Big Name

If Seattle signs a player like Obafemi Martins, then brand recognition for the club, and MLS, will surely rise
by Brian Stern   |   Friday, March 08, 2013

Singing In The Rain – column on Seattle Sounders (SSFC) & the Seattle area soccer scene.

If you haven’t heard of the recent Obafemi Martins transfer saga, then you have been under a rock. This has larger implications than just a single player season or team. A move of this caliber would take the Seattle Sounders to the next level of international recognition and propel the team into the same stratosphere as the top 15 teams in the world.

The Sounders are by far the most well-known and popular team worldwide within the MLS. The league has a stated goal of becoming a premiere worldwide soccer league by the year 2022, and it will need to take several large strides along the way to turn this vision into reality. As a piece of that growth, having the Sounders bring in a premiere striker from a top tier league (La Liga) is a major step in the evolution process. It is also the only next logical goal to accomplish for the Sounders.

The organization has destroyed every major statistical number out there; ratings, revenue, attendance, merchandise sales, local market TV deals, etc. So what is next for the club? There is a thing such as oversaturation in a market and the Sounders might be to this point. So how do you cross into the next echelon?

Simple: You have to make headlines. We saw it with the LA Galaxy when they signed the likes of David Beckham and Robbie Keane over the past 4 years, and what it did to the Galaxy brand worldwide. In this day and age it is required to bring eyes to your brand to succeed, and making a big splash in international waters would do just that.

The Sounders contract with Xbox expires at the end of this season and the team hired an agency to represent them in meetings with potential sponsors and help facilitate the next sponsorship contract for the organization. In order for the team to command the dollars it’s potentially looking for, it will have to show it is willing to make a large move to bring eyes to the team.

A major signing of a talented striker would propel the Sounders into the international conversation. The Martins saga has already been seen on the likes very popular worldwide. And when the story first broke about the potential transfer of the La Liga striker to the Sounders, it was trending on Twitter for the day in the Seattle area. So yeah, it is a big deal.

A signing like this would benefit not only the Sounders, but MLS as well. Having one of their teams pull a coveted starting player from a top league in Europe could be the start of a chain reaction that would see more players move from the European markets to MLS. It would also allow and give the Sounders leverage in negotiations with potential sponsors and a major marketing move to flex its brand muscle on the international stage.  Finally, it would pave the way for other teams, and raise the overall quality of the league.

NEXT UP: March 12 – Seattle Sounders vs. Tigres, CenturyLink Field, Seattle. 10 p.m. EST, Fox Soccer.


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Husband, father, history buff and founder of SoundersNation. Lifelong lover of the game and covers the Seattle Sounders for Soccer Newsday.