Written by Travis Clark

USATSI_9635974_167117710_lowresHeading into Thursday night’s MLS playoff clash between D.C. United and Montreal, Didier Drogba dominated the headlines.

Much of that is the player’s stature in the global game. No matter what he does,  Drogba will generally draw the attention, whether good or bad. It’s part and parcel of the approach that Major League Soccer clubs seek with big name signings. Create the splash, by acquiring internationally recognized talent, and deal with the blow backs if conflicts arise

Whatever happened between Drogba and the Impact over the past few days (or weeks even), the Impact sure didn’t need his services in Thursday’s win. Thirty-two year-old Italian forward Matteo Mancosu scored twice and had an assist as Montreal’s lone striker, with Drogba watching on from the stands, sharing his delight on social media.

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Written by Will Parchman

morris

Jordan Morris is not – nor likely will ever be – a hold-up striker.

There was some doubt about this early in his career. At Stanford under Jeremy Gunn, Morris was used as one of the two attacking broadsides up top in a fairly rigid 4-4-2. Wherever Morris would roam – and he roamed – he ended up corralling a lot of over-the-top balls. Sometimes he’d do so with his back to goal, with mixed results. It was how the system worked.

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Written by Will Parchman

nico

If Steven Gerrard’s truncated half season with the LA Galaxy in 2015 was not a full fledged dumpster fire, then it was something resembling a small blaze in a dirty trash can.

Gerrard was OK in spurts, leaning on his wooden, rickety legs to spray a few incisive passes and amble around the deep woods of the Galaxy midfield in an attempt to find some meaning. He was hardly a disaster, although for $6 million you wonder what you should reasonably expect.

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Written by Will Parchman

lagerw

Garth Lagerwey hustled. He hustled for weeks and months, days tumbling into one another as the fish squirmed on the end of a line plunged deep below the darkest spaces of the water. This was the Lagerwey Way. Without knowing the outcome, just keep the thing on the line. Keep it there. Whatever happens, at least you gave it every chance to surface first.

By the start of the summer of 2016, Lagerwey and Nico Lodeiro knew one another. Maybe not as friends bonded by time, but certainly as something more than mere acquaintances. When Lagerwey and Jason Kreis were building Real Salt Lake into a national power in the crook of the Wasatch Range, they had a policy of meeting players face to face before signing them. Lagerwey views this business, quite rightly, as an interpersonal one.

Get the measure of a man and he’ll trust you. Get him to trust you and the ink will dry fast.

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Written by Will Parchman

rolds

Jordan Morris is on some kind of form lately. As if directly responding to Jurgen Klinsmann’s bizarre and empirically incorrect decision to leave him off the Copa America 23-man roster, Morris has scored four times since the tournament started.

That includes a brace (it was almost a hat trick) against West Ham in an international friendly in Seattle on Tuesday night. Morris now has six goals in the league and eight in all competitions as a pro, and this is probably my favorite.

No. It is definitely my favorite.

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Written by Will Parchman

roldan

You may remember Seattle Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan from such feature-length fun as That One Adidas Commercial With the Plastic Bag and The Highly Prized Generation Adidas Signing and How Did He Fall to 16th In The 2015 MLS Draft.

You can now call him Sounders goal-scorer Cristian Roldan.

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Written by Travis Clark

A year and a day after scoring his first and only goal for the U.S. men’s national team, Jordan Morris found the back of the net at the professional level for the first time.

Morris scored in the 71st minute, racing on to a perfectly-weighted through ball from Andreas Ivanschitz and nudging home past Philadelphia’s Andre Blake.

Back on April 15, 2015, Morris started and scored for the full team in a 2-0 friendly win against Mexico in San Antonio.

Making his sixth appearance for the Sounders this season, his goal above provided the winning tally as Seattle topped the Union 2-1 at CenturyLink Field.

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Written by Will Parchman

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.

ohno

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Written by Travis Clark

dempseyEvery 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.

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Written by Will Parchman

jmo

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.

“It’s hard to put into words,” Morris said.

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