The original Sounders played in the North American Soccer League from 1974 to 1983. A quality side, with a roster that included England World Cup heroes Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst, they made it to two Soccer Bowls (1977 and 1982, losing to the New York Cosmos both times), before folding in 1983.
The name was resurrected in 1994 by a new Seattle club playing in the American Professional Soccer League. While the APSL operated as the top American league between 1990 and 1996, FIFA never officially recognized it as the American top flight, and, with the advent of MLS in 1996, the APSL was a lower-division league, eventually absorbed into the USL. The APSL/USL Sounders were even more successful than the NASL side, winning four league championships (1995, 1996, 2005, 2007).
In November 2007, MLS announced that Seattle would be the league's newest club, starting play in 2009. The owners opened an online poll for fans to select the name for the new team and the supporters overwhelmingly chose "Sounders" as a write-in option.
Their first match on 19 March 2009 continued the tradition of success associated with the Sounders name with a 3-0 win over the Red Bulls in front of a sold-out crowd at Seattle's Qwest Field. Two of the goals were provided by the team's young Colombian forward, Fredy Montero, who also provided an assist for the third goal - a performance that earned him MLS Player of the Week honors.
The team went on to outperform all expectations, claiming silverware in their first season by winning the 2009 US Open Cup, then repeating as champions in 2010 and 2011.