Let’s for a moment remember that soccer happened in the U.S. in the 1980′s, and in large part it was just one giant party of men in excessively short shorts kicking the side of an innocent barn. Exhibit A, here.
Here’s the actual transcript from this 30-second treasure trove of AMERICAN GRITSPIRIT from a Sounders NASL commercial. The most amazing thing about this ad is that it basically admits the game you’re about to see is rugbysoccer for 90 minutes. And you’ll like this black eye we’re about to give you, because you have no other options, Abigal Mae.
VOICEOVER:Soccer Sounders style.
WEIRD SONG:Playing the game to win. That’s the name of the game we play.
VO:Our style isn’t a ballet with the ball. It’s 90 minutes flat out.
WS:Red and white. Black and blue (???????). Ohhh the Sounders, coming at you.
VO:Soccer finally comes of age in the USA (as he says this, a cross into the box hits a defender’s raised arm. Nothing happens).
WS:Oooh the Sounders playing it. Making it (making what??? Am I taking barbiturates???). Playing the game to win.
If you had any inkling of what American soccer has had to overcome in the past 15 years, the fact that this slogan was considered OK for an entire commercial is just grand. We may not be able to produce balletic grace on ball, but we will definitely dislocate your knee cap and leave you with internal hemorrhaging.
Every year, the return of CONCACAF Champions League play consistently triggers the debate of the tournament’s format, MLS’ need to actually win the thing and excuses as to why they don’t.
The quarterfinal matchups for 2016 are particularly compelling because four MLS teams find themselves up against four Liga MX sides. In the never ending quest to catch up with Liga MX, MLS finds ways to minimize the implications of playing club teams south of the border. Tuesday’s results were mixed: D.C. United lost 2-0 on the road against Queretaro, and Seattle conceded a soft goal late in the second half to draw 2-2 against Club America.
There was one clear highlight from Tuesday, aside from the new turf in Seattle. Clint Dempsey curled in this tasty free kick to open the scoring in the Pacific Northwest.
Jordan Morris cleared the final step to the showroom floor at Seattle’s The Ninety and the flashbulbs popped and crackled like fireworks. Flanked by Adrian Hanauer, Garth Lagerwey, Sigi Schmid and Chris Henderson – the club’s most visible and influential decision makers in matters of player personnel – Morris sheepishly walked to the middle seat of the dais.
Morris, wearing a blazer and a button-down shirt and facing a packed room of about 100 people, settled into his seat and readied to hear the announcement he’d been waiting to hear for years. The kid who’d been in the stands for Seattle’s first ever MLS game in 2009 almost couldn’t believe he was here at all.
There is an old truism in life that you do your best work out of a place of comfort. This is often mistaken for a vague idea of something called a ‘comfort zone,’ and I’d like to wave away those clouds here. In reality, the notion of motivation dovetails into two definitive camps with a million branching sub-genres: those who are motivated by circumstance and those who are motivated by surroundings.
It is easy to survey from a high position and say that all players are made better by more competitive environs, regardless of their physical location. The Bundesliga is better than MLS, and therefore any Bundesliga club is better than any MLS club for every player. The fact that we are dealing with humanity, and not mathematical equations, makes this a farcical idea. It may be better for more players more often than not, but what is the percentage here? 70? 60? 51?
Finally, for the first time in four tries, the Sounders knocked the Galaxy out of the postseason on Wednesday night. The game was as entertaining as it gets in MLS, and after four goals in the opening 22 minutes, Seattle’s Erik Friberg roped home the winner in the 73rd.
Every now and then, MLS teams resume the time-honored tradition of pulling a couple players into the marketing department to make a couple calls to season ticket holders. It’s typically a good time: jokes, laughs, the whole shebang.
The Sounders put out one such video this week. Chad Barrett, Andy Rose and Zach Scott rang up a couple unsuspecting fans, and we settled in for the normal barrage of chuckles. But we got so, so much more.
We love CONCACAF, primarily because it flaunts the idea that soccer has become polished to a high, glossy sheen in our 21st century digital age. While Europe’s top leagues have their own fair share of drama, it’s fairly localized and relatively predictable.
Not CONCACAF. Whether that’s insane penalties in continental competitions or… insane penalties in club competitions, our fair region is suitably insane.
The yearly Amazing Soccer Ritual in Portland between the Timbers and Sounders went off in similarly riotous voice on Sunday. Tied into half, the Timbers scored three goals in the second half – two from Fanendo Adi in less than a minute – and it finished 4-1 in favor of the home side.
It was a great rivalry match. And then Rodney Wallace scored to make it 4-1 and, like, slit some invisible throat and stabbed some invisible gut.
The Sounders and Timbers staged a U.S. Open Cup match filled with an atypical amount of drama, even for this series. Brad Evans was sent off first with the match tied at 1-1, and then hell opened. Clint Dempsey tore up the referee’s book. The Sounders eventually finished the match on seven men and lost 3-1 after 120 ridiculous minutes. The referees were escorted off the field by a cadre of police. A fan threw a trash can onto the field. It was… something.
Needless to say, Sounders coach Sigi Schmid’s postgame was blunt, terse and notably glorious in his response to one of the worst officiated matches in history. I can certainly say I’ve never seen a game bungled more completely on this level. A few of Sigi’s choice cuts from the above video.