Written by Will Parchman

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.

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Written by Will Parchman

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.

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Written by Will Parchman

ozz

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.

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Written by Maxi Rodriguez

landon-donovanWith 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:

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Written by Will Parchman

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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?

Unprecedented indeed.

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Written by Will Parchman

clint

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.

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Written by Will Parchman

gspuirns

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.

Here’s Gspurning’s explanation. Which is funny.

 

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Written by Will Parchman

It’s October, which means fall is all around us. Leaves are turning that crackly shade of orange, pumpkins are springing up on doorsteps across the country and the Sounders have flipped the switch to “incomprehensible.” Ah fall. Can always count on your inevitable tides.

Every year, historically around the time the USOC ends, the Sounders start scuffling in one way or another. The exact timing is always a little different, but it usually happens around the turn of October. This week, it’s hitting hard. The Sounders have given up nine goals in their last two games, 5-1 and 4-1 losses that have made the Sounders look vaguely like TFC with more fans. The latter beating, a Cascadia crumpling at the hands of Vancouver capped by that Reo Coker 70-yard lung-burner up there, happened at home. That snapped Seattle’s 14-game home unbeaten run at a time when the Sounders were chasing a Supporter’s Shield. Eh.

The Sounders’ late-season record down the years is actually fair. Since 2009, Seattle has had a winning record every individual season from September through November, which still includes this year at 3-2-2. Over that span, the Sounders are 31-19-12 since their expansion year. Which, on balance, is a pretty good rate of return when the schedule turns to its most important fixtures.

But a closer inspection reveals what Sounders fans already know with painful accuracy – the team’s forte in big games is still lost in the mail. A 3-3-1 lifetime record in the month of November when previous results had been considerably more positive isn’t cutting it.

The Sounders’ remaining regular season schedule isn’t particularly cheery news, either. At Portland (oof), at FC Dallas, home to the Galaxy. Two Cascadia games in five days? Good luck Sounders. Historically speaking, you’ll need it this time of year.

 

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Written by Will Parchman

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As the season putters toward the playoffs, a handful of coach of the year candidates are beginning to separate from the league’s cluster. These typically run the gamut from coaches turning big talent into points to molding former also-rans into legitimate MLS Cup contenders. I don’t necessarily buy that one is intrinsically more impressive than the other. That Mike Petke has done what he’s done in New York, for instance, is not diminished by the team’s payroll. Look at his predecessors and the praise seems baked into the pie.

And while his tenure is short, I want to acknowledge what Brian Bliss is doing in Columbus.

Bliss’ rap sheet is the shortest of any coach here, which means he’ll have a difficult time dislodging other coaches from higher places. So perhaps Bliss won’t win the honor, but he at least deserves praise for his brief month-long stint in the manager’s chair in Columbus. The Crew had lost seven of 11 when Robert Warzycha was let go at the start of September, and they were drowning and left for dead in the playoff race. Since then, Columbus has won four of five, including an entertaining 4-2 win over FCD over the weekend that inched the Crew closer to the playoffs. The Crew are playing vibrant attacking soccer (11 goals in those four wins), and if their year stretches into the postseason, there might not have been a more dramatic shift in the league all year. And that’s down to Bliss.

Without further ado, five of the top MLS coach of the year candidates.

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Written by Will Parchman

On a wet and slick Sunday night in Seattle, it seemed like the Sounders were girding for a three-pointer to go two points clear of RSL in the West with two in hand. With a 1-0 lead and just 15 minutes left, NYRB was down to its last few punches.

That’s when Tim Cahill came up with this thumping effort after a weather-appropriate melee in the box. It curled into the far netting and sent the Red Bulls home with a point they’ll be happy to have. Suddenly New York has a four-point lead over SKC in the East and are legitimate contenders for the Supporters Shield.

Mike Petke, the miracle worker. Where’s Hans Backe when you need him?

 

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