When Roger Levesque is introduced as the guest of honor today at SoccerPalooza, a fundraiser for the Tri-Cities Youth Soccer Association, some of the younger players might not be familiar with the former Seattle Sounders energetic striker who took goal celebrations to another level during his 10-year playing career in Major League Soccer and United Soccer League.
No worries, said the 32-year-old native of Portland, Maine, who scored 34 goals in six years with the Sounders’ USL club. He remained with Seattle after the team joined the MLS in 2009, scoring six goals before his retirement in 2012.
“Those are the age group I relate to best. I really see eye-to-eye on their approach to the game,” said Levesque, a graduate student at the University of Washington. “I used to do a lot of coaching. It’s not something I’ve been able to get out and do a lot of lately. But when I do, it’s like a breath of fresh air.”
TCYSA president Stephanie Koerner said the event will feature some recreational games, a silent auction and a chance to interact with Levesque, who will appear from 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Personal cameras will not be allowed at the event at the TCYSA Complex in Pasco (next to Gesa Stadium), but pictures can be purchased for $5. There will be a $5 parking charge. The event will run from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
“We’ll have a lot of things going on. The Sounders are phenomenal with promoting soccer,” Koerner said. “Roger is extremely personable, and he’s extremely loved by Sounders fans.”
Back in December, the TCYSA brought former Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller to Pasco for a meet and greet, which drew several hundred fans to TRAC.
“I’m definitely a downgrade from Kasey,” Levesque joked. “I’ll bring some energy. I’m probably the only player in the MLS that’s best known for creative goal celebrations.”
Levesque, a Stanford graduate, drew national attention for one celebration following a goal against the New York Red Bulls in a game televised by ESPN on June 23, 2011. Levesque stole the ball from Red Bulls goalkeeper Greg Sutton and tapped it into an empty net, then sat on a waist-high advertising board in a mock scuba dive.
Another memorable goal celebration came during the 2009 U.S. Open Cup after a goal in the first minute against MLS rival Portland Timbers. Levesque ran toward teammate Nate Jaqua, who proceeded to “chop him down” like a tree.
In January of 2010, Levesque was ranked 19th on a list of the USL’s most influential players of the last decade. His work rate, wit and length of service helped make him a fan favorite.
“One of the biggest takeaways was relationships. It starts on a smaller level with teammates, but it grew to the supporters and the city of Seattle,” Levesque said. “I’m fortunate to have played here so long and to be able to play on that stage.”