DuBois native Matt Pentz published his first book, “The Sound and the Glory: How the Seattle Sounders Finally Conquered Major League Soccer — and Showed MLS How to Win Over America” March 5.
Pentz, 29, a DuBois Central Catholic 2008 graduate, wrote the book as an in-depth look at the Seattle Sounders’ unlikely run to the MLS title in 2016.
Now a freelance sports writer, Pentz has lived in the northwest for just over six years, as he spent just over two and a half years as a sports reporter for The Seattle Times covering the Sounders.
Pentz noted that he got introduced to the northwest region by covering high school sports for The Daily News in Longview, Washington for about two years before moving to a much larger publication in Seattle.
The Seattle Sounders were established in 2007 and began play in the MLS in 2009. The team was an instant sensation in the city, breaking attendance records in the league in their inaugural season.
After seven years of regular season success, the Sounders fell short in the playoffs year after year, as the buzz for the team had flat-lined during a poor start to the 2016 campaign as the team went 6-12-2 over the first half of the season.
The team then closed out the regular season by going 8-2-4 to rise from ninth to fouth in the MLS Western Conference and earn a spot in the playoffs.
The team then made a surprising run to the MLS Cup, where it defeated Toronto FC, 5-4 in a penalty shootout to claim its first title.
Pentz noted that the 2016 season for the team was one in which the team went through a lot on its journey to the championship.
“Their coach got fired halfway through the year, they brought in a new star player and they got hot at the right time to overcome this gap and make the playoffs and make the run all the way to the championship,” Pentz said.
The writer said that just a couple months after the team claimed the title, he faced the unfortunate reality of the newspaper business as the company was forced to make some cuts, which led to him being laid off in February 2017.
“I had just always had the idea to write a book and I just wasn’t sure about what,” Pentz said. “That season just had so much going on, and after the layoff happened I had some free time to be able to go and do all that.”
He said he spent about two months coming up with a sample chapter and an outline, noting he was able to sell it quickly to a publisher out of Toronto called ECW Press.
He admitted that the first step was difficult for him because he had only written for newspapers and had a certain style that he needed to adjust.
“Then I spent about four and a half months turning around the manuscript and got that done early last year and now here we are,” Pentz said.
Along with publishing a book, Pentz is working as a freelance sports writer, most regularly for The Athletic, an online sports publication.
Pentz has also had articles appear in The New York Times, the Guardian, The Ringer and ESPN, among others.
Pentz worked as a sports stringer for The Courier Express off-and-on throughout college between 2008-12.
“Scott Schindledecker was very generous about whenever I was home on break about letting me come in for a couple weeks here and there,” Pentz said.
Although Pentz wrote for a student-run magazine while studying at Ohio University, he noted his time with The Courier was his first professional experience in the field.
Pentz noted that most of his colleagues during his time in the northwest region have spent most of their careers working in larger markets and said he felt his time with The Courier in a smaller market helped him improve as a writer.
“It was really valuable to work for a smaller town, I was able to be a little more hands on and see how it all works,” Pentz said. “I’m definitely very grateful to Scott and the Courier for providing me with that outlet at that time.”
He noted that even with his stepping stone in Longview, the move to Seattle brought some culture shock at first.
Pentz added that he felt a little more pressure in the early going at his job with The Seatle Times also, but his glad he made the move.
“It definitely turned out to be worthwhile for me to take that chance and try out a new horizon,” Pentz said.
Pentz said he enjoyed the process of writing a book and plans to write more in the future.
“I’ve always been a big reader, so to have any book come out is really quite thrill for me” Pentz said. “I definitely have that itch to go on and write a couple more.”
“Right now I’m just trying to adapt to the industry and I do like the flexibility of freelance work and kind of being able to call my own shots.”