BY Art Thiel 04:43PM 03/14/2011

Cliff McCrath

It wouldn’t be the start of soccer season in Seattle without many words, on video, from Seattle Pacific’s legendary and amusing former coach

Before Major League Soccer opens a third season with the Sounders Tuesday night at Qwest Field against the Los Angeles Galaxy, Sportspress Northwest’s Art Thiel caught up with the game’s local legend, Cliff McCrath, at the Sports Star of the Year event at Benaroya Hall.

A native of Detroit, McCrath coached for 37 years at Seattle Pacific University, where he won five NCAA Division II championships. He also helped recruit players to the original Sounders team in the North American Soccer League of the 1970s. A charismatic leader who went by “Uncle Nubs” (check out his left hand in the video), McCrath once paid off a bet on his team’s championship abilities by walking on his hands and knees from the SPU campus to the Space Needle.

After his controversial dismissal from SPU in 2007, McCrath, 74, has devoted his time to a national soccer officials organization as well as Soccer Saves, a nonprofit organization that uses soccer to bring life skills to improverished areas of Africa.


  • Deb Harrell

    Thanks, SportsPress NW, for remembering and acknowledging Cliff McCrath’s
    role in building soccer in this town – a ground-breaker with the original Sounders, dedicated booster and teacher. Not to mention all the kids he coached at his camps – most of whom are wearing green scarves now. He and Alan Hinton and Jimmy Gabriel helped ensure today’s multi-generation fan base. It is great when the media focuses on those who deserve attention.

  • RadioGuy

    Not a surprise at all.  The UW was just a one-year daycare all along.  Wonder what’ll happen at the next level where for, the first time in his life, Tony’ll have a coach who doesn’t kiss his back pocket and teammates who don’t think their sole existence in life is to pass him the ball and watch?

  • Steverudman

    Potentially a very good player, but nobody said these guys were smart.