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.
The Sounders cruised past NYCFC 3-1 on Sunday afternoon in the capper to the MLS weekend. It was a good game in the sense that it had goals and both teams tried passing it around a bit. Hard not to when the field is a baseball stadium mated with a closet. Seventy yards wide? I guess.
This moment was the Dempseyest. It was also the best. Dempsey tries these moves at least a couple times per game. Most of the time they die in infancy, the ball skittering off his boot and out of bounds or rolling meekly into swapped possession. But instances like these make every missed enterprise worthwhile. How many MLS teams have ever had a goal like Obafemi Martins’ against Colorado and this assist within a few weeks of one another?
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the lead-up to the goal featured an 18-pass build-up, the longest preceding a goal in MLS this season. Sounder At Heart has you covered.
When we talk about high level development in the U.S., you can hear the crackling static when we talk about the 18-22 age bracket. At least in recent history, nobody’s quite sure where to go from there.
The Development Academy is nowhere near where it needs to be, but at just eight years old it’s made significant strides since it kicked off its first match in 2007. And for all its confusing rules, MLS is slowly attracting and generating more talent from the nutrient-rich waters abroad and off its own shores.
But there still isn’t an easy fix for that 18-22 age range. The college season is too short. The academy doesn’t have U19 or U20 or U23 divisions. And other leagues have fizzled without enough support. That’s why USL’s increasingly large footprint in development is moving the needle significantly. As more MLS teams pop online with USL franchises, the pathway between U18 and pro soccer becomes slightly smoother.
The Sounders were one of those clubs this offseason, and their new USL franchise S2 fired up with its first match last weekend. A smashing 4-2 win over defending league champs Sacramento Republic signaled the league’s MLS debutants (all of Cascadia is now on board) will probably shake things up this season.
And now we come to Pablo Rossi. The good folks at Sounder At Heart know plenty about Rossi, who has his own Seattle-based hype train running up and down the Puget Sound. Over the weekend, he got his first real life game action just days after he triumphantly inked an official contract with S2. And the result was that lovely (SUPER SLO-MO) free kick that won him bonus points for pinging off the back of the keeper.
We here at TDS love our Hype Trains. Rossi’s is one we can hop on.
SEATTLE — Nervy days, but the job is done. And now MLS gets the matchup everyone wanted.
Dempsey vs. Donovan. Keane vs. Martins. Galaxy vs. Sounders.
The Sounders, expected by just about everyone to cut through FC Dallas and set up a dream two-legged meeting with the LA Galaxy in the Western Conference finals in two weeks, got it done. But barely. Through a grim, determined effort at the back and just enough panache going forward, the Sounders managed to pick their way to a scoreless draw Monday night at CenturyLink Field.
That advanced Seattle on away goals after Osvaldo Alonso booted one home to secure a 1-1 draw in Dallas last week. Here are a handful of takeaways from one of the wildest scoreless draws you’re likely to see any time soon.
With the MLS Supporters Shield set to come down to a single clash between the LA Galaxy and the Seattle Sounders, plenty of ink has been spent analyzing the matchup, with tactics, lineups, form and playoff implications dominating the headlines. While these are topics worth your attention, the majority of writers have ignored the greater issues surrounding the match.
Here are our Top Five questions to consider when the Galaxy take on the Sounders for the Supporters Shield:
SEATTLE – A panel of nine sat spread shoulder-to-shoulder Tuesday on a dais inside a pavilion at the Chihuly Gardens, an ornate snake of red glass flowers clinging to the ceiling crawling above their heads. They were gathered to announce the Seattle Sounders’ “unprecedented event,” and it was hardly surprising that men like Sigi Schmid and Adrian Hanauer were among their number. The announcement of a Sounders USL PRO franchise, after all, was a hardly contained rumor.
But there was also a group joining them who became significant soon after the press conference began. Representatives of the Sounders’ major supporters’ groups joined the team’s administrators, and it soon became obvious why. The announcement of the Sounders’ USL PRO franchise came first, the Sounders 2 beginning operation in 2015 as a standalone franchise under the Sounders’ developmental umbrella. Between Schmid and Hanauer was Andrew Opatkiewicz, a fitting visual considering the day’s ensuing events.
What came next was a surprise. The Sounders opened up 20 percent ownership of the new USL PRO franchise to the fans through a new organization called the Sounders Community Trust. The details of the trust are still filtering out – fans can buy in and have a voting stake in the club’s decisions – but the announcement was met with rapturous applause inside the pavilion Tuesday when it came down. Unsurprisingly, it was wildly popular among the Sounders faithful.
The establishment of a USL PRO franchise certainly wasn’t unprecedented. In fact, the Sounders’ Cascadia rivals in Portland announced their USL PRO venture, called T2, earlier in the day. But to have this level of fan ownership at any level in a soccer franchise in America?
In 2012, Tim Cahill played in 12 regular season matches for the New York Red Bulls, racked up 1,080 minutes on the field and scored one goal. By most accounts, his initial transfer-shortened MLS season was underwhelming. He often struggled to get involved and entered the 2012-2013 offseason with uncertainty clipping at his heels. Would NYRB’s latest DP be another mild disappointment? The following season was a mystery.
In 2013, Clint Dempsey played in nine regular season matches for the Seattle Sounders, put in a grand total of 651 minutes in an MLS uniform and scored one goal. By most objective measures, Dempsey’s initial blast of MLS air was a bit stale. Unlike Cahill, his form hadn’t suffered in the EPL on the eve of his transfer, and monstrous expectation had been heaped on his shoulders after his historic and somewhat controversial transfer.
Now, Dempsey is mired in an offseason much like the one Cahill had last year. Big player, grand expectations and a sudden and immediate need to meet them.
Michael Gspurning settled Seattle’s keeper dispute in bizarre fashion on Wednesday.
With the Sounders clinging to a 1-0 lead in their one-off playoff battle against the Rapids at CenturyLink Field, an errant Rapids chip found its way into Gspurning’s path. And he decided to pull a doubleplusstupid, charging out of the box to handle it before extending an arm to Edson Buddle.
Red card. Which meant Marcus Hahnemann, who was thawed out of his ice chamber after most recently starring as Copernicus’ aide in a 1540 experiment on soul patches. Encino Man will be between the sticks for the Timbers in the next round of the playoffs, so get ready for that.