As part of the 50th Anniversary of Washington Youth Soccer, we want to know who the best men, women, and soccer citizens have been over the first 50 years of WA Youth Soccer. In a soccer-rich community like Washington, the Top 50 players could be hotly debated...
When he arrived at Seattle Pacific then-College in 1970, within hours Cliff McCrath visited the nearest pitch to campus to begin learning about the local soccer community. As fate would have it, his first stop was the old Interbay playfield and his initial encounter was with Mike Ryan, the first president of Washington Youth Soccer and then University of Washington coach.
Although rivals in the fall, McCrath and Ryan became fast friends and fellow missionaries in helping promote the game throughout the state. When the Falcons won their first NCAA championship in 1978, they did so by beating a predominantly foreign-born team with a side almost exclusively made in Washington. Soon after that win McCrath dispatched a letter to WA Youth Soccer leadership.
“It was a tribute to the Washington Youth Soccer program that we won the title,” he remembered writing. “In the early days it wasn’t so much an organizational system as it was people like Mike Ryan, Frank Hall and John Duggan gathering together guys and teaching them the game.”
In choosing his 18 players McCrath, who led SPU for 38 years, pays tribute to character as much as athletic ability, for Seattle Pacific’s five championships (to go with five runner-up finishes in Division II) were marked just as much by grit and termination as finesse and flair. These were young men who broke down walls and then some.
“I wanted to remember the people who came through in those early days, the pioneers, the originals,” he said.
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McCrath’s Top 18 – Made in Washington