Stars for All

February 23rd, 2017

By Stephanie Steiner

Sounders: You will have a star. Our team earned it, we will all be able celebrate that championship authentically regardless of our size or gender. You matter. The star matters. We have been heard.

#StarsForAll: hashtag, battle cry, and quite frankly a no-brainer. Now we’re closer to it being a reality. Stars may be applied post-purchase to our Sounders gear. I have no idea where the team stores are going to be able to source dump trucks full of stars, but I wish them Godspeed. Sounders: please be patient. They have only known this for hours. Any stars applied to jerseys in the next few weeks are miracles.  Give them time.

Our list of champions extends beyond the field, and beyond the locker room.  Our Front Office has been championing our #StarsForAll cause for months (minus the hashtag). In 2015, someone at MLS made the decision that only authentic jerseys would receive stars. We don’t agree this this decision. Members of our front office did not agree with this decision and pursued it relentlessly. Taylor Graham and Doug Orweiler are warriors.

Yesterday morning we started sending teasers to let you know we were in the #StarsForAll battle. Battle might not be the best way to describe it – but we had a multi-step, multi-club, multi-month plan of action that we had just begun.  The first step was the declaration, the second was a letter* sent via FedEx to MLS Headquarters.  Steps three through twenty-seven would have involved all of you – but it looks like we might not need them.

We look forward to the longer term plan from MLS and are deeply grateful for the short term solution provided for Sounders. Now we wait for MLS to reveal its next steps: we were never in this for only our Club. Our letter clearly declares that we believe all fans of all championship Clubs deserve stars. It is our hope that all Clubs can learn their solutions expeditiously.

Update: late in 2017, MLS fully rescinded its prior decision and stars were made available for all fans of any championship club regardless of gender or size of the fan.

#StarsForAll #YouWillHearUs

MLS to allow championship stars on Sounders’ replica jerseys after supporter protest

Originally published February 23, 2017 at 12:21 pm Updated February 24, 2017 at 5:20 pm

 1 of 2 | Clint Dempsey models the Sounders’ new kit. (Courtesy photo / Sounders FC)

 2 of 2 | The star will be featured on all Sounders replica jerseys after the MLS gave into fans’ demands. (Courtesy photo / Sounders FC)

Major League Soccer changes policy after pressure from Sounders fans and will now allow championship stars to be placed on all the team’s 2016 and 2017 replica jerseys.


Geoff Baker 

Seattle Times staff reporter

Stephanie Steiner was taking at least the day to savor a victory for Sounders fans before pondering the next move.

The president of the team’s Alliance Council was dissecting a Major League Soccer announcement Thursday that it had reversed a merchandising policy after a protest by Sounders fans. Previously, championship stars commemorating the team’s MLS Cup win in December could only be added to authentic Sounders jerseys and not the replica home and secondary uniform versions favored by much of the fan base – especially women and children.

Championship squads sporting a gold star above their team crest has been a longstanding soccer tradition worldwide. The MLS policy switch will now see stars added to all 2016 and 2017 Sounders jerseys instead of only the authentic version.

“The authentic jersey … is designed for professional soccer players,’’ said Steiner, a third-year president of the Alliance, comprised of about 35,000 of the team’s season-ticket holders. “How many people in the fanbase fit the body type of a professional soccer player? Kids don’t. They’re too small. Women develop breasts – it’s an inevitable event. And men have to be incredibly athletic for that to fit.

“So, what’s the percentage of the population that can fit well in authentic jerseys. So, they were saying ‘Nobody else gets that star.’ And that’s kind of ridiculous.’’

And for now, nobody but Sounders fans will get it either. A statement issued by the Sounders, who negotiated directly with the league on the Alliance’s behalf, said the MLS plans to review the policy at the conclusion of each season.

Bart Wiley, the team’s chief operating officer, said: “Many fans expressed to us their concerns with the previous championship star policy and we applaud Alliance Council leadership for representing their constituents to address those concerns with MLS and our organization.”

Fan bases clamoring for stars on their team merchandise wasn’t really an issue for the league until the highly-popular Portland Timbers won their first MLS Cup in 2015.

The Timbers actually went ahead and started selling stars on all jerseys without getting league permission. But the league clamped down on the practice this year.

MLS declined to issue any further statements on the matter Thursday, other than what was conveyed in the Sounders press release.

For now, the stars will be added to all Sounders home and Pacific Blue jerseys as well as a new “Heritage Kit” version unveiled Thursday that will commemorate the team’s first season in 1974. The jock tag on the bottom left of that jersey reads “Born in 1974”.

Steiner said she was first made aware via social media and texts from Sounders fans right after the team’s title win over Toronto that they were irate about the policy. She approached the Sounders about it and found they too had heard from fans and had already initiated discussions about it with the league.

With the Sounders acting as a go-between, talks ensued over the next several weeks as the Alliance pushed for a policy change. The fan group sent the league a formal letter, but never spoke directly to MLS officials – leaving that to the Sounders.

Steiner said her group was given the impression during negotiations that the league had been trying to create more value for the authentic jerseys by limiting the use of stars to them in order to differentiate them from the replica version.

She hadn’t heard about MLS limiting its policy switch to just Sounders jerseys for now until reading about it in a Seattle Times online post on Thursday. She’ll wait until hearing something officially from the league before deciding whether to continue the planned campaign against the policy.

“The important thing for me is, if you’re going to build this in the U.S., you’ve got to build it for kids,’’ Steiner said. “These are their heroes. These are the people they look up to. So, let them celebrate the championship.’’

Dear White Male Liberal Soccer Fans

Dear White Male Liberal Soccer Fans:

There’s a conversation we need to have about a group within your ranks. The bros. Only, they don’t think they’re bros.

On Sunday, September 10th two fans had rough experiences with security entering the stadium. Brian Larsen was racially profiled. Brynn Baker was called a bitch. There were other incidents, but these two were very personal and demeaning. I believe both of them are telling the truth. Most people within the local soccer community want an environment that welcomes inclusion.  Some demand it. But their demands are anything but inclusive: bros engaged in the very behavior they condemned.

The terse statement from the Club was a disappointment, but here are a few things you should know:

  • Small statements do not mean a small investment into an issue and large statements do not mean large investments into an issue.
  • They’re short likely because they’re all that will be allowed by the legal minds.
  • What you want to hear will not be allowed. (confirmed 9.19 – the Club has no plans to make a more elaborate statement. confirmed again 9.26, personnel used the term “handcuffed for legal reasons”).

In my opinion, the fact that this was a joint statement instead of a Club statement might also indicate that there could be contractual language that prevents the FO from speaking singularly now.

Shortly after posting the joint statement, Council’s Executive Leaders posted this reaction, which wasn’t nearly angry enough for the bros. We had watched social media all day, we watched people whip each other up into a snarling mess.  We had no intention of stirring that up further and sending people, mad with rage, hurtling toward the gates: because what could possibly go wrong?

When this group wants a witch hunt, it will have one, and this isn’t the first time: they harassed the hell out of account managers over absent livestream (including threats and challenging their sexuality). I’ve experienced the same over electronic Matchpasses, clear bags, and our team’s record.

The bros say they want an atmosphere of inclusion, where everyone can feel welcome. Yet, in one twelve-hour period, their behavior was so bad that other women identified it as abusive.  While people were snapping online that all should feel safe and comfortable within this soccer community, they were stirring up a level of unrest that put my safety at risk.  Know why?  They declared themselves right at the expense of others – and it felt good to them.

Is that fostering an atmosphere of inclusion? I don’t feel safe in this community. Women saw it and did wellness checks on me.  One asked if she could call someone to stay with me. This is serious shit, people.

By now, some of you have already written my comments off as overreaction, or ‘tough – you took the position so put up with it.’  Well, that’s just more of the problem.  I’m tired of minimizing.

You’re rightfully upset at the security staff for demeaning and insulting people as they entered the stadium, escalating situations unnecessarily, profiling and getting politically judgmental. I have no argument. I’m upset with it too. My argument is with the people within our soccer community who do that to others or whip up frenzy such that they create exactly the same thing.

In one twelve-hour period, I was demeaned, verbally attacked, someone decided my politics (incorrectly) and began insulting and attacking the opinions they invented: all this from white men.

Have I always been perfect? Of course not. I am an evolving, learning being.  But this bit? This is an ongoing predictable issue, and in this case, it’s a near mirror of the behavior being condemned.

If it’s predictable, why didn’t I just explain the likely legal position of the Club to those angry guys?  I did.  Here were some of their responses:

          I know that.
          Fuck you, you’re not telling me anything I don’t already know.
          Shut up.
          I’m not new.
          You’re a waste of time.
          Someone needs to threaten you.  <-it happens each year, jackass.

One person wrote a sample PR statement that the Club “should” have made. Great – sounded awesome.  But PR wasn’t invited to the conversation for specific legal wrangling reasons: any attorney worth half a nickel is going to take an after-the-fact statement and twist it into an accusation.  But you know that, you’re not new, I need to shut up, I’m a waste of time, and someone needs to threaten me – right bros?  Since they’re experienced and knowledgeable, I have assumed the intentions to be malicious, and the messages that were triggered were exactly the impact they expected.

Nothing within this faction of the community is simple, not even statements. It would suck if someone who deserved to be fired got an attorney and a fat payout because people kept amplifying when quiet can prevent a fat payout. That would be horrible injustice for Brian Larsen. You’re all smart enough to figure this out. We made a non-inflammatory statement because we want a solution more than we want angry amplification.  The solution is going to require unimpeded investigation. But the bros don’t want that.  I’m not sure they even remember the notion of justice for Brian – they just want to be right and make me and the FO wrong. If the bros get to enjoy some hits of being the “big man” along the way, they’re happy. This behavior is the reason the term “social justice warrior” is not a compliment. Two weeks later, the bros are actively inventing their own stories about what is or is not happening (that’s called lying).

 “I never said anything insulting.” If I asked you to stop copying me, and you ignored my boundary: you’re included. If you filled the space with made-up bullshit, you’re included. If you intentionally whipped people up instead of committing to inclusion: you’re included – because this behavior is what the bros in the community consistently do and there is nothing inclusive about it.

Now go ahead – ask me why people don’t do more on Alliance Council.  Ask me why the FO has “so much” turnover in their account manager positions. It might be you, bro.

postscript: Each year since becoming President, I’ve dealt with sexist attacks. Every man I’ve dated has asked me to give it up because of the emotional toll it takes on me, and women ask me if it’s really worth it (it isn’t).  But I know we’re better than this, and we can commit to a future better than what we can imagine. Here’s why I do it – take a look at this kid’s face:

photo by Sounders FC from the 9.10.17 match

Epic Mac & Cheese

Mac n Cheese 4

8 oz smoked cheddar cheese, grated: we used Cougar Gold ™

8 oz white cheddar cheese, grated: we used Cougar Gold ™

3 c heavy whipping cream

~1/8 t nutmeg freshly grated

~1/2 t mustard powder

~1/2 t cayenne

~1/2 t sea salt

1 1/2 cubes butter, separated

1/4 c all purpose flour

1 lb high quality thick cut bacon, cooked and cut to 1/4″ pieces

1/2 t truffle paste or 1/4 t truffle oil (add more to taste)

2 scallions, sliced to 1/4″ rounds

3/4 cup panko bread crumbs

1 1/2 cups potato chips or Pop Chips ™ – salted with no other flavor (or saltines)

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1 lb good quality Italian pasta (penne, penne rigate, orecchiette)

organic cooking spray

Cook and cool the bacon, chop it up and set aside to drain the grease. Wash, slice, and drain the green onions.

Make the Topping: Put potato chips or saltines in a large zipper bag, roll with a rolling pin until crumbly (nothing over 1/8 inch, but not a powder). Mix in a bowl with panko and Parmesan cheese. Melt 1/2 cube of butter. Add 1/4 of the bacon and 1/4 of the onions, add melted butter and thoroughly blend it all.

Create a bechamel with 1 cube of butter, flour, and the whipping cream.

Bechamel: Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles, but don’t brown it — about 2-3 minutes. Add the cream a few tablespoons at a time, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring it to a medium boil, continue stirring throughout so that it does not scorch. Season the sauce with nutmeg, cayenne, and salt, lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more.

Boil the pasta, and while its cooking, melt the grated cheddars in the bechamel. Stir regularly.

When pasta is fully cooked, drain into a large colander, shake out extra water, and put back into the same pot. Pour cheese sauce over pasta. Add green onions and bacon, stir well.

Spray a 9×13″ baking dish with organic cooking spray. Spread macaroni mixture into the dish. Top evenly with topping. Bake at 475* for 30 minutes. Broil high for 3-5 minutes or less – keep an eye on it! We yanked ours out at 3.

Remove from the broiler when the top has browned, do not over do it.

Serve hot and creamy 🙂

Cooks notes: I made this with my awesome niece and nephew, and I’m typing this up as they snooze the morning away (they’re teens, they’re on vacation, they get to do that at my house 🙂 ).  At every point, I taught them to choose the best quality and why.  We learned about Cougar Gold cheese when we toured Washington State University during Z’s college exploration. He chose a different university (dammit), but he’s on the hook for that cheese for the rest of his life – no matter what school or career path he takes.  Do yourself a favor and order some – we’ve learned it’s far less expensive to order it and have it shipped from the creamery than to buy it at retail or from Amazon.  You’re welcome.

Butter, pasta, whipping cream: organic because we can make that choice in the Northwest easily. Prices aren’t much higher and organic is readily available.  Easy cheesy, so why not?  Pasta: yes it’s organic, and it’s also made in Italy and die cut – no smashed out crappy pasta for our group.  Why? the difference in quality is worth it, the difference in price is a few pennies.

Bacon: buy yourself amazing bacon. If you don’t live somewhere that you can get amazing bacon easily, then move.

All of the seasoning measurements are approximate – add seasonings until they taste good to you.  Teach yourself to do that.  Be careful with truffle oil – enough is a beautiful thing, too much is Gack-City.  I replace my truffle oil cap with a medicine dropper to help prevent over-use, but tolerance for truffle also grows with more exposure.  I use more depending on who is eating.

straight out of the oven
straight out of the oven

Mac n Cheese 3

Steinamo Trace Bourbon Cream

Bourbon Cream1

I downloaded a recipe for home made “Buffalo Trace ™” Bourbon Cream from the internet.  Buffalo Trace ™ is the best bourbon cream I’ve had – good ingredients without a bunch of nasty preservatives and thickeners.  But the internet recipe, unfortunately, resulted in a disappointing liqueur.  So that stuff became bourbon caramel, and this, friends, is my new bourbon cream.

Buy good bourbon.  If you have crappy bourbon at home, take that out to the garden and use it to repel slugs and don’t bring it back into the house again. Ever.

In a heavy pot over medium heat simmer together until sugar is completely dissolved:

One quart of whipping cream (I like organic)

1 1/2 cups – 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar (I like organic)  start with a cup and a half – add more after you’ve added the liquor later.

agave syrup*

I stirred fairly consistently with a whisk, but didn’t whip it – all of the sugar needs to dissolve.

Once the sugar has entirely dissolved, turn off the heat and add:

1 tablespoon organic vanilla extract

1 teaspoon organic almond extract

2 – 3 cups of GOOD QUALITY bourbon to taste.

Blend thoroughly and taste.  It should taste like melted vanilla ice cream with bourbon.  Yum City!

*If it needs to be sweeter, and you’ve used organic sugar, consider adding agave syrup at this point so that you don’t need to add any heat to the bourbon.  Organic sugar tends to have heavier granules.

Pour into your chosen storage container(s) and keep refrigerated.

If you store it in the fridge for a while, the fat from the heavy cream will rise to the top – so anticipate the need to either skim it off or plan to blend it back in before you pour.

Let’s Talk About Pussy


Georgia O'Keefe

Artwork by Georgia O’Keefe


July 10, 2010


Let’s talk about pussy. Yes, really.  Recently, I’ve been in the presence of men who have used the word pussy to signify weakness –  “Man up, you pussy!”  or  “What a pussy!” in reference to another man who had disappointed him in one fashion or another.


Usage of the word pussy this way baffles me. The pussy I know is the strongest force on earth – men will do nearly anything for it. Pussy topples world leaders,  befalls governments,  launches 1,000 ships (come on, do we really think it was Helen’s face?), drives men wild, and births their offspring. Tell me, how this is weakness?


Note to men:  if you expect to enjoy pussy, you need to  respect pussy.  Or choose another word – jackass, perhaps?