In Seattle, the newest MLS franchise is already making lots of noise before it has even played its first game.
Thanks in large part to a partnership with the Seattle Seahawks, Sounders FC have sold more than 20,000 season tickets, better than the league's average attendance last season, and have a sellout of more than 32,000 for the inaugural game on March 19 against the New York Red Bulls.
The remarkable fan reaction also persuaded the league to hold the 2009 MLS Cup at Qwest Field on Nov. 22.
Aside from the general interest in a new franchise, the Sounders management has given fans a roster that could be exciting. They brought in Schmid, and they didn't hesitate in using the financial backing of Hollywood executive and majority owner Joe Roth, making Swedish midfielder Freddie Ljungberg the fourth-highest paid player in the league.
They lured former U.S. national team goalkeeper Kasey Keller back from Europe with the opportunity to finish his playing career only an hour from where he grew up.
"Any franchise that puts on a good face and has passionate fans, it's good for soccer in America," Roth said. "Certainly, one of my hopes, again, is to elevate the status of soccer in this country. It's obviously the world's game. It has yet to really catch on (here)."
At Columbus, the 45-year-old Warzycha certainly has the background to take over a team that will defend its league championship. He was an assistant with the Crew the past six seasons after being an outstanding player for them. He remains the team's all-time assists leader with 66 and ranks fourth with 99 points.
The Crew also have Guillermo Barros Schelotto, the MVP of the regular season and MLS Cup. The star from Argentina led Columbus to a 3-1 victory over the Red Bulls in the title game.
The Red Bulls, last season's surprise with their late drive to the MLS title game, will try to build on that momentum, with the tandem of Pablo Angel and Dane Richards providing a consistent scoring threat.
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