If there’s a shared passion that bonds many of the players in the Seattle Sounders’ locker room outside of soccer, it’s video games.
Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan swear by Fortnite, even bringing their computers with them during road games so they can play at the hotel. Goalkeeper Stefan Frei likes role playing games like Assassin’s Creed, but is currently among the many passing the time by playing copious amounts of Call of Duty. Everybody plays FIFA.
“I think the stereotype is athletes play video games because they’re lazy bums [when they’re at] home,” Frei said. “But it’s more just that, it’s a hobby that really meshes well with being an athlete, where you need to have a hobby that you can come home to, be exhausted, do that hobby for 2-3 hours if you want to, and it’s not going to be too draining. So, I think that’s why it meshes well with athletes.”
With the MLS season suspended and people around the world practicing social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sounders' gamers suddenly have more time than ever to play. And since they're going to be doing it anyway, they decided to use the shared hobby in a creative way to help give back to the community.
Using a service called Shotcall, developed by a friend of midfielder Harry Shipp, fans can sign up to stream and play games with players for a fee that gets donated to the Sounders’ COVID-19 Relief Fund to help businesses surrounding Seattle’s home stadium of CenturyLink Field that have been impacted by the current pandemic.
“Cristian and I really like Fortnite and Stef is doing it with Call of Duty,” Morris explained. “Cristian, Alex [Roldan] and I have been doing it with Fortnite. You just set up a time and put it out there and people can sign up and donate some money to play.
“So all the money is going towards that and it’s just a fun way to interact with fans and raise some money to help people that need it during this time.”
In addition to playing with some of their favorite stars, it connects fans with gamers who take the hobby as seriously as they do.
Morris and Roldan have played together so much at this point, Morris said, they’ve become a potent and competitive duo. Who the best player is between the two is the subject of debate, but both Morris and Frei acknowledged Roldan probably can lay claim to the title of the best Fortnite player in the Seattle locker room.
“I don’t know what it is about Fortnite, it’s the best game I’ve ever played, the most fun I’ve ever had playing video games,” Morris said. “Before this game came out I was not a big gamer at all, a little bit in high school, but when this came out I started playing it and I just really liked it.
“And it’s a really fun game to be able to connect with people. I play with [Nashville SC defender] Walker [Zimmerman], I play with my buddies from Stanford, guys that I haven’t seen in a while, so that’s a fun part about it too.”
Those interested in streaming with any of the Sounders players can find the information on when the time slots are open on their Twitter feeds, where they’ve been promoting the sessions.
“We all have our profiles, at this point we’re offering time slots, but the idea is that we’re going to host a whole tournament and have people make some donations,” Frei said. “We’re trying to raise some money through a passion that we all enjoy and a lot of other people do too.”