It was a sunny morning around 9:00AM-about 70 degrees-at The Commons Microsoft complex in Redmond. People were scattered around outside, eating breakfast, enjoying the beautiful day and meeting with coworkers. The immense turf soccer field in the middle of all the peaceful chaos. Security personnel scanned the premise for questionable activity. It could easily be mistaken for any normal day on Microsoft’s newest campus. But it was not.
Around 9:15AM, men clad in electric green jerseys emerged from an office building, soccer balls in tow. Cleats hit the pavement-a sure sign of the game of soccer about to be played. Not just any game or practice though. This was special: the exclusive groundbreaking of the Studio West Field. And those breaking the ground were the MLS Sounders FC.
July 16, for the Microsoft Commons employees, consisted of a few events: bring your daughter/son to work day, new employee orientation and an exclusive practice with the Sounders. Because Microsoft’s Xbox 360 is the biggest sponsor of the professional soccer team, it seemed fitting that they would help kickoff the grand opening of The Commons. There were about 300 people present at the field by 10:10AM; ranging from children of employees, eager to have players sign their jerseys, to photographers and camera men, documenting the event. The practice officially started at 10:00AM and ended at 11:30AM.
To welcome the players and employees to the field was Microsoft President of Entertainment and Devices Robbie Bach, who talked about how the Sounders have surpassed expectations “as an expansion team” and risen to 2nd place in the Western Division. He went on to say that the team is currently #1 in league merchandise and has 50 percent more attendance at each game than any other MLS club. “We’re hoping that we’re going to see them at the end of the year playing at Quest (field) in the championship.” Bach turned the microphone over to Sounders Head Coach Sigi Schmid, who thanked the crowd for their attendance and loyalty. “None of this would be possible without the support of Microsoft,” he said. He explained how the practice would be laid out and introduced many of the assistant coaches and trainers, saying that they do not receive enough credit for their hard work.
It was a normal day of training with added intensity for the enjoyment of the attendees. Warm-up consisted of various stretches, running laps and specific exercises, lead by fitness coaches David Tenney and Ezra Hendrickson. The field was split at the half-line, with small practice goals on one end and regular sized goals on the other in order to accommodate multiple 6 versus 6 scrimmage games. By the end of practice, the winning team was goalkeeper Kasey Keller, Fredy Montero, Sebastien Le Toux, Steve Zakuani, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Tyson Wahl.
By 11:40AM the players were done with practice, stretching and cooling down on the field. Coach Sigi made a closing statement, thanking everyone again for their support, saying “Everyone wants to put on a little bit of a show…anytime you can have people watch, it always brings out a little extra (effort).” At press time, Sounders defender Tyrone Marshall expressed his gratitude for Microsoft’s sponsorship saying, “We’re showing that love and respect for them…it was a beautiful day for it.” It sure was.