May 16, 2014 in Sports

Former Gonzaga star Zach Scott epitomizes ‘Mr. Sounder’

Don Ruiz Tacoma News Tribune
 
Associated Press photo

Zach Scott, right, played career-high 1,458 minutes in 2013.
(Full-size photo)

Whatever the title “Mr. Sounder” might mean, defender Zach Scott is clearly a candidate.

Seattle Sounders coach Sigi Schmid bestowed the honor last week, after Scott, a Gonzaga University product, made his first start of the season against FC Dallas.

“Right now Zach is probably Mr. Sounder – that’s the best was to describe him,” Schmid said when asked about Scott’s performance. “He’s probably taken the mantle off of Roger Levesque since Roger retired. But Zach is a good pro. He works really hard, and I knew he was going to be prepared. … I thought he responded and played very well.”

Scott admitted he doesn’t know exactly what “Mr. Sounder” means, but he took it as a compliment – largely for the association with his longtime teammate.

“I still think if there’s a guy who is really the epitome of a Sounder it’s really Roger Levesque,” Scott said. “I mean, I can only aspire to do what he’s done on the field and in the community. That’s by far the biggest thing: As much as everybody loves the Sounders, it’s as much for what they do in the community. And I try to do as much as I can, but with three kids and a family it’s a little harder to get out as much as Roger was, and all the nonprofit stuff that he did. Nonetheless, it’s cool to be mentioned in the same breath as Roger.”

Scott already exceeds Levesque in longevity. Levesque joined the USL Sounders in 2003 and remained through 2008. He became part of the MLS Sounders in 2009 and remained until his retirement in the middle of last season at age 31.

Meanwhile, Scott, an All-West Coast Conference first-teamer as a senior with GU in 2001, joined the USL Sounders a season earlier – 2002 – and stayed through 2008 before joining the MLS Sounders in their expansion season. He was still going strong last season, when he set MLS career highs with 1,458 minutes over 21 appearances and 16 starts.

So far, this season has been a different story.

Scott, 33, didn’t see any action until the ninth game, when he subbed on for the final two minutes.

However, that was followed by a full 90 minutes May 7 against Dallas, when veteran central defender Djimi Traore was given a night off over the club’s stretch of three games in nine days. Then Scott returned to the bench Sunday in New England where the Sounders were trampled, 5-0.

Two of Seattle’s starting defenders for that match – Brad Evans and DeAndre Yedlin – have since been called to the United States national team. Their absence against San Jose on Saturday and for a few matches beyond could create a path back to the pitch for Scott.

“I never take anything for granted,” he said. “I think if you’re not playing well from week to week, then you’re slowly going to find yourself sliding down the depth chart. Whether or not there are players gone or not, or there are opportunities here or not, if you’re not playing well you’re not going to be there. So I have to have a good week of practice.”

With every new appearance, he builds his case as the reigning Mr. Sounder.

“I think that’s fair,” said general manager Adrian Hanauer, who owned the USL team. “… He’s been here longer than any Sounder in the history of our organization. He embodies what I think the Sounders are about, which is hard work, grit, determination. He’s won championships; he’s persevered, and he’s an unbelievable character off the field. So, you could do a lot worse than having Zach Scott as Mr. Sounder.”

Notes

Arlo White, the former voice of the Sounders, will return to the booth on Saturday, splitting play-by-play duties with Ross Fletcher. Each announcer will call one half for the radio broadcast and one half for the Channel 13 telecast. … Schmid said the health of the team is good and that defenders Leo Gonzalez (hamstring) and Dylan Remick (ankle) should be available for San Jose.


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