Month – March 2014

Michael Bradley Don’t Eat Tofu

I hate it when I’m right. I was afraid we’d lose the game in a letdown. Today’s post is a miscellanea of observations from Saturday’s game. Tomorrow is all Marco Pappa.

*****

Something foul is going down on the Xbox Pitch. Actually fifty somethings foul. Has anyone done a comprehensive catalogue of the total fouls across all MLS games through the first two weeks this season vs. the first two weeks of 2013 or 2012? The Sounders have already been fouled 50 times. 50 Times?! Last week SKC set a dubious record for fouls against Seattle with 25. A large amount, sure, but SKC is a chippy team and it was a start-and-stop First Kick game. Then Toronto ties the record with 25 more fouls a week later? WTF? TFC is not a traditionally chippy team. They shouldn’t be with all the quality and talent they’ve acquired. Maybe Ryan Nelsen said, Screw it. I want to keep my job. San Jose won the Shield being goons and SKC won the Cup as goons. This is what works in MLS. Or maybe the replacement refs are just whistle crazy. I need some chats and graphs here.

This isn’t blame the refs. Refs will always be a variable in sports. Sometimes they hurt your team and sometimes they help. It all comes out in the wash. Any fan who says otherwise and swears his team gets a rawer deal is delusional. I blame Saturday’s loss on the Sounders. In many games over the last couple of years, we dominate for the first fifteen minutes, but then we slow down and lose focus. If we happened to stab one in the back of the net, we usually weather the opponent’s push and hold on for a result. If we didn’t happen to capitalize in that first flurry and score, our ensuing sloppiness gets us scored on. The rest of the game plays out as a too fast and too furious rally to equalize, but, more often than not, we come up short.

The loss is a downer, sure, after last week’s late-game heroics, but MLS has a long and winding season. We started horrible last year. But by September we were leading the race for Supporters Shield. What is cause for concern is how we lost, the disappointing flashbacks to old habits. We lost in a shockingly similar fashion to the sloppy 2013 Sounders. We lost focus and cohesion for five minutes and started shipping goals. Too little too late has become a habit of this team.

*****

Losing Brad Evans hurt. Generally it’s never good to use a sub that early or to lose your captain. But his injury made a specific difference in the result, as both TFC goals were when Evans was in the 11 but either comprised or off the pitch. Evans is one of those players who contributes more than stats. He is the straw that just stirs the Sounders drink. When Evans was full-strength, floating around the middle, shoulder to shoulder with Ozzie, we were killing it. Then he took a helluva knock in the fifteenth minute and TFC immediately capitalized. Evans and Sigi both say the injury is nothing serious, so hopefully he starts next week against the Impact.

The upside to Evans’s injury being the Seattle debut of Gonzalo Pineda. I was absolutely impressed by Pineda. In the first half he was stellar, he showed good vision (that lovely pass to Neagle), was great on the ball, and rarely a liability (unlike someone who’s name rhymes with Sharko Yappa). However he is not yet 100% fit. Pineda is coming back from a sports hernia (few injuries in sports sound so awkward and unpleasant as a sports hernia). His lack of fitness was apparent as his play waned in the second half. His signing was a stellar one by the scouting department. Pineda is a talented and experienced veteran of a quality league. I would love to see him on the pitch much more.

*****

Jermain Defoe killed us. He whipped out his stethoscope and got all clinical. The man scored two goals on two shots in twenty minutes. More than a few tweets and soccer prognosticators deemed this a dismal display of the state of MLS: Defoe comes in with less than a week’s training, and makes it look too easy. Others took Defoe’s performance as further proof that Dempsey sucks. The logic being that Defoe has 2 goals in twenty minutes, whereas Dempsey has 2 goals in eleven games). That is crap. Both are stellar players. A big difference was that the Sounders gave Defoe room to work. He was fouled only once on Saturday, while Dempsey drew a whistle six times.

Dumping on Dempsey is an oddly popular trend. The interesting most angle from Saturday’s game is the public perception of Clint Dempsey vs. Michael Bradley. The national post-game narrative is that Bradley is a stud, a saint, and a baller, while Dempsey is cheap whiner and flopper. This is fascinating. And it is crap. One of the reasons I love sports is because it is a Rorschach of the culture and the people who make culture. Yes, I’ve seen the gifs. Dempsey’s hand swats right at Mark Bloom’s crotch. One (with a 206 area code) could argue that Bloom embellished. That Dempsey wasn’t aiming for the dude’s junk, but just swatting his hand away because people were in Dempsey’s grill all game. One (who spells color with a u) could argue that Dempsey purposefully nut-punched a poor defenseless chap who meant well. I don’t care to argue the validity of either perception. It is less what happened and more how and why we see it happening.

For example, Bradley committed numerous fouls on Dempsey. The ref would blow the whistle, Deuce would pull him himself off the turf, and Bradley’d stroll back into position. No gesticulation or argument with the ref. Bradley knew exactly what he was doing. The man is a consummate professional and fouling is part of the job description. Every defensive midfielder worth his salt knows when to foul: Ozzie, Beckerman, Chara, so don’t start singing songs of St. Bradley. Yes Dempsey got Chippy during the game, but Bradley was purposefully knocking him down. Repeatedly. It’s vintage tactics, from the Mighty Ducks to hack-a-Shaq, the hyper-talented player is neutralized if you goon the crap out of him. Dempsey is a red-blooded American man. He lost his temper at times in the match. Do we wish he had the zen-like calm of a yoga teacher? Hell no. I want Deuce fiery and driven. I want that chip on his shoulder to block out the sun. If America hates him because America hates the Sounder, so be it. Just don’t tell me Bradley eats tofu and walks on water.

Toronto FC at Seattle Sounders Gameday

What a lineup! I’m stoked to see the return to “Sigi’s arrow” (RIP diamond). No Kenny Cooper is quite the unexpected turn of events:

 

Loving the new pregame show. I am big fan of Jackie Montgomery, but boy oh boy, I miss Alan Hinton.

Quick site update: I just switched to WordPress. Now you can comment directly on the articles and don’t need to Twitter or e-mail to tell me how silly I’m being. I still need to tweak some things (re-embed the links, overhaul the logo and other aesthetics), but hopefully you can enjoy the new legit platform.

Dempsey on Bradley? I can’t wait.

The New York Yankees of MLS

The Sounders are the Yankees of MLS. We have no rings yet (let alone 26) but we sure act like the big man.

Frankly it feels weird. My Portland friends (almost an oxymoron), throw me a lot of the same grief that I throw Yankees fans: you buy your talent, you’re a bunch of prima donnas not a team, you can’t buy chemistry or championships. It feels weird because it’s somewhat true.

The Sounders aren’t content to just draft, scout, and develop talent (though they are getting good at this). Sure we found Fredy and Ozzie, we’re developing Rose and Yedlin, but we love to make splashy signings of established players and stars. It is becoming an unfortunate characteristic of the team (or “brand” if you’re reading Joe) to always be flirting with a foreign star or big-name veteran. Which would be okay, but we only keep these players for a season or less and ditch them.

Of course there were Drogba rumors. I don’t know tons about him other than his performances with Ivory Coast in World Cups. Yes, he’d probably be a solid addition to our team. But really? Really?! Why must we always be attached to every big name? Why must we flirt with another foreign star? We fouled up (and pardon if you’ve heard this before) with Ljundberg, Nkufo, Flacco, Tiffert, and Shalrie. Granted Ljundberg and Nkufo made quality contributions to their respective campaigns, but the overarching narrative is: Seattle flirts with big names, blows money, and moves on. Imagine if Robinson Cano just leaves the Mariners after this season. That is a rollercoaster of investment, financially and emotionally. And then imagine if the Mariners did it every off-season (actually, this might be an improvement to the Mariners narrative).

L.A. flirts with stars, signs them and mostly keeps them. We haven’t figured out the last part of the process yet. Last season was the worst example of this:

Do we want Shalrie Joseph? Hell yeah!
Do we want to throw Oba in here after the regular season started?  Yeppers!
Clint Dempsey is looking for work? Throw gobs of money at him!!
Adam Moffat is available at the very last second? Great! Let’s trade a developing  Carrasco      for him and then ditch his neckbeard immediately this offseason!

This is straight-up Daniel Snyder. I have never cheered for a big money team, and it feels weird to buy talent rather than develop it. Inauthentic for some reason. It is hard to identify and consider myself a fan of a behemoth. But the Sounders are positioning themselves to be one of the “Big Four” of MLS. They have the clout, the support and the quality to do it. However there is a problem with the city’s idea of itself.

Seattleites see their city as a forgotten town in a far corner of the country. Seattle has an inferiority complex and considers itself inferior to New York, San Francisco, Chicago, etc. We see these cities as being cosmopolitan and their sports teams as dominant. Seattle begs for more success, more recognition.

I’m from Alaska. As a Seattle transplant, I feel privileged to take a dual outsider/insider perspective. Seattle has always been Neo-Tokyo, the megalopolis of my region. Seattle wasn’t just another place in the Lower 48, it was urbanity manifested: traffic, skyscrapers, consumerism, culture. To a large swath of the country (the rest of Washington, Alaska, Oregon, Montana, Idaho) Seattle is Babylon, Mecca, king. Seattleites forget this, always and only comparing themselves to other, more established cities.

It’s like the elephant afraid of the mouse. Seattle is increasingly an economic engine of the whole nation: Boeing, Starbucks and a top three tech industry (if not #1). Artistically and culturally, Seattle rocks. I bet anyone can name five bands from Seattle faster than any other American city (try this with friends!). Sure, Seattle got started later than other cities (it was still mighty provincial just 30 years ago), but is now a giant waking up. I firmly believe that Seattle will be a major player in the next American century and that soccer will become the predominant American sport (globalization, concussions, etc).

I firmly believe that Joe Roth, et al. are betting on this. Don’t you think if the owners of Everton could go back in time knowing that the EPL would be the international league but only four or five teams would dominate the narratives and money, they’d have done something very different?

Seattle wants to be, if not the premier franchise in MLS, one of them. Damn if they’re not almost already there. Their beautiful attack, national attention, and international exposure are second to none. The awareness of their brand is growing. L.A. is our biggest competitor (they have it all, plus unparalleled success). NYRB and probably NYCFC could make some serious noise if they started to care. Thing is, Seattle already cares. We are essentially becoming the Pittsburg Steelers or Celtics. Not the Cowboys or the Lakers. The Red Sox, not the Yankees: a premier team if not the premier team.

Are we prepared for that?

Thanks so much for reading this first week. Have a happy Sounders weekend.

Toronto FC Preview and Reader Responses

Good news and bad news. Bad news? I’ve decided to make RavingGreen a Monday through Friday gig, so you’ll have to survive the weekend without me. Good news? I have two action-packed posts for you today. Today’s smorgasbord will start with reader comments and responses, and a quick preview of Saturday’s game against Toronto. The second post is an epic essay on Seattle’s impending Yankeeness.

*****

Bob commented on Wednesday’s post regarding HGP and the Draft. Bob said:

The blog has been great. So far I’ve enjoyed it! Although why can’t you comment on the articles? I think you give the draft to little respect and the HGP too much. While some years the draft might seem like a wasteland there are others where you can get some real talent out of them. You might get a really good player out of Africa or somewhere, that had a opportunity to go to college in the states. Or just a player that might not wish to be a HGP, or someone who’s development took off in college.

P.s. did you find out how many HGP players you’re allowed to have?

Thanks for reading Bob! The inability to comment is annoying. I can’t yet have comments on the site because of the format I am using. I plan on doing some happy hour homework with a buddy tomorrow to try and build the site on a more legit platform so folks can comment.

I wholeheartedly agree that the draft is still a legit place to discover talent. Maybe I am overhyping HGPs after a year of Yedlin and a glimpse of Okoli. Maybe I’m underhyping the draft after Bates/Duran/Sodade. I could be guilty of both. It just seems the real blue chip prospects are identified earlier and attend the academy to get their 10,000 hours quicker.

Every team is allowed to sign two players a year to HGP contracts and get all the benefits. But there is no limit to how many HGPs you can keep on your roster. Right now the Sounders have Yedlin (2013), Okoli and Kovar (2014) under the incentivized HGP contracts. Next year they could have Darwin Jones as well.

One last thing on HGPs. The rule unfairly helps N.Y., L.A., Chicago, Houston, Seattle. The big cities have a much larger pool to draw talent from than PDX, SLC, or Columbus, for example. That is an inequity right now. A team like Seattle has a huge competitive advantage over a team like Portland. I love it.

*****

Toronto FC is a bizarro Sounders. Both teams have passionate fan bases and a market that allows ownership to throw money around. Both teams do throw money around, and have been accused of using money to buy respect and legitimacy (this is a foreshadowing of today’s next post). Yet somehow… Seattle has never missed the playoffs and Toronto has never made them.

This weekend I’m excited to see Bradley, Defoe and Dempsey all on the same pitch. Allegedly the two TFC stars are nursing injuries, and Toronto may hold back players due to our infamously terrible, very bad turf. Part of that cheeses me off because “screw you grass elitists.” Part of me is stoked. The reputation of our turf gives us a competitive advantage. It’s like the old concrete turf at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. Nothing like having some good old-fashioned intimidation on your side come game day.

Dempsey opening his account would feel good. Beating Toronto and starting 2-0-0 would feel better. I am little worried we could have a letdown after last week’s at-the-death winner. But I am wired a little that way; years of being a Philly fan, always expect heartbreak. Prove me wrong boys, prove me wrong.

What Does It Take To Be A Seattle Sounder?

First off, congrats to Cam Weaver on being re-signed as a Sounder.  That’s gotta feel good, local boy comes home. I am not too optimistic about what he brings as a player, but am mighty excited by what he brings as a “culture carrier.” Weaver is a man who knows what it means to be Eternal Blue, Forever Green.

Second off, if you missed last Saturday’s game, then you missed an epic tifo. I’ll do a tifo piece in the future. Just check this out and respect.

And on that note, we cue the music:

I have fumed about Sigi’s substitution decisions many times in the past. I usually think they are too little too late. Often I’m left wondering if injecting a sub or shaking the lineup sooner would’ve yielded different results. On Saturday, I was mighty confused by all of the substitutions. The later two were classic Sigi: Chad Barrett in the 76th minute and Sean Okoli in the 86th (the familiar “really?! what is a player going to do with just 4+ minutes?”). Maybe this is results-based analysis, but… they sure look like great decisions now. However, I was really befuddled by the decision to play Clint Dempsey for over half an hour. He replaced Marco Pappa in the 57th minute, and that seemed too early for a man with Deuce’s recent flight itinerary.

FYI, I am more of a soccer newbie here. My fuming at Sigi is less informed regarding subs or tactics than it is against, say, Andy Reid and his proclivity for the ill-timed time out. I have only been following the Sounders since 2010, and soccer since the 2006 World Cup (oh Ghana, how you wound me!).

Dempsey played 90 minutes in London 7 days prior, and 90+ in Cyprus 3 days before. I’ve seen the maps and charts, Cyprus is WAAAYY over there. I don’t want to “Oba” Dempsey. It was great last March to see our flashy new signing jump right off a plane and into the match against Portland. But it wasn’t fun to watch his torrid start crumble to an injury-riddled halt.

On top of that, I’m just not sold on Dempsey yet. I was so stoked to see the new squad, but Dempsey was an afterthought. Oh yeah, we still have that guy. He just doesn’t feel like a Sounder yet. Last season it was a surreal dream come true. Dempsey, Captain America, stud in the EPL was signing with my team. I didn’t exactly believe it then, it was just so much to digest. Between #Dempseywatch and the theatrics right before the Dallas game I was in shock (that weekend my wife and I were in Spokane for a wedding. We heard the official news at the reception, bought tickets that night, woke up extra early, left our friends and rocked the 90 straight to the C-Link and into our seats). It was so worth it, even with all of Joe Roth’s cheesy showmanship.

Dempsey didn’t deliver last season. Yes there are mitigating factors and excuses. Yes, MLS midseason additions fare much better in their second season. I understand all of that. But you expect transcendence, not trouble adjusting and injuries. You want a buzzsaw, but you get a player with 1 goal in half a season. The weird thing is, these are not the reasons why I don’t buy Dempsey yet. I am not trying to be a hater. I am not trying to be the typically frustrated sports fan who crucifies the franchise. It’s more cognitive dissonance. Deep in my gut, I feel that we are not worthy. That MLS and the Sounders are not big time yet. Why would Dempsey descend from Olympus to join a lowly MLS squad? So I don’t even see Dempsey as part of the franchise, let alone the franchise. Is Dempsey a Sounder?

What does it take to be a Sounder? To represent the crest? Even with all of Eddie’s drama, he felt like a Sounder. Was it because he played hard against Portland? Mauro Rosales felt like a Sounder. Why? I want to do a whole post on the ethos of Mauro Rosales. Dempsey… still feels like Joe Montana on Kansas City: a historical fact, but not a gut “truth.” Maybe I’m holding him to a different standard. Maybe I’ll forget this unease when he scores 20 goals or leads us to the Cup?

Despite the travel and the potential wear, I am actually glad Sigi put him in. He looked great, and arguably played his best game as a Sounder. And that is just it. Put him in coach. Play him. Make him a Sounder.

MLS: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love HGPs

Sigi’s decision to play Sean Okoli was a surprise. I don’t know how many people guessed he’d get minutes, let alone by a decisive contributor, in game one.

Okoli is a Home Grown Player and only just turned buy-me-a-pint years old. All we heard in the preseason was how raw he was. I’ll admit I didn’t expect Okoli to see any significant time this year. Even with Yedlin’s breakout year, I was skeptical of our new HGPs, Okoli and Aaron Kovar. I was more excited and intrigued by Cooper, Marshall, Pappa, even Parsemain.

But Okoli was a stud. Sigi loves attacking wide and crossing it in, and Okoli looked like a demon on the flanks (watch him at he bottom of the video, #13, sheesh he’s fast!). He is a baby Zakuani, I swear that’s who I thought I was watching. Great pace and vision. And he showed boatloads of confidence.

Based off years of only watching the traditional American sports, I was confused by the very idea of Home Grown players. These are players you didn’t draft, you just added them to your team. I saw them like undrafted free agents in the NFL. Not that this is logical, but that is how I saw it. In the NFL, there is the understanding that a top draft pick has a much higher probability of contributing to your roster than a player you didn’t even draft. I was not sold on the potential awesomeness of HGPs.

Clearly I gotta re-wrap my brain around HGPs and the meaning of the MLS Draft.

Here goes: The best soccer players in the United States aren’t drafted, and they don’t stay in college very long. They follow a very different development pipeline.

Once upon a time a player like Yedlin/Okoli would not go to college, but instead attend the IMG academy (like Donovan or Adu) or something of that sort. US Soccer and MLS got in cahoots back in 1997 and created Project 40 (then sponsored by Nike, now called Generation Adidas and sponsored by the Three Stripes), to help usher young talented players straight into MLS. The thought being that our players could develop in our league. It worked great for a while: Tim Howard, Demarcus Beasley and Carlos Bocanegra (just to name a few) were all Project 40 players who cut their teeth in the young MLS. The only problem with this model was that it kept MLS as a developmental league, as Howard, Beasley and Bocanegra all moved on to bigger and better things overseas.

Currently, the Generation Adidas program chooses (with help from coaches and scouts) a class of 8-12 non-senior collegians. These elite players are signed by MLS before the draft. Special contract/roster stipulations exist for the GA players, such as not counting against the salary cap or roster limit. Thus clubs are incentivized to draft them.

The Home Grown Player rule was passed in 2008. A Home Grown Player is a local high school soccer prospect who’s tabbed by the area MLS club to start training with their academy. These players are the cream of the athletic crop. Watched and nurtured from a young age, they were selected by Coach as special and invited to develop in a professional setting with other highly talented individuals.

HGP players join youth academies and they can treat college, not as the necessary next step of development, but as a loan. To use a year or two of NCAA play to show their skills to their senior club. If a HGP gets the nod to join the senior squad, that is the true MLS equivalent of a first round draft pick.

If the Seahawks have a top ten pick, fans are pretty stoked and the team expects a major return on their investment. If the Hawks pick up some undrafted free agent from the CFL or Nowhere State U., fans don’t care much and the team sees him as having an outside shot at the roster, let alone game day snaps.

The MLS Superdraft is 4 rounds and 77 picks. To be eligible to be drafted, a player must have a) graduated from college, or b) be already signed by the league (i.e. have a Generation Adidas contract). Thus the majority of eligible draftees are guys with less-than-alluring developmental prospects. They are players who went to college and slogged through four years and graduated.  So the Superdraft amounts to MLS teams mostly sifting through players who’s next-level soccer prospects stultified at the NCAA level.

Not that the draft doesn’t yield prospects (Dylan Remick or Andy Rose, for example), it’s just that you have to flip the traditional American perspective of the draft. Yedlin, Okoli and Kovar are far more blue chip than Damien Lowe, Jimmy Ockford, Andrew Duran, or Will Bates.

We shouldn’t be surprised by the DeAndre Yedlins of the league (though I am guessing he is still an extreme outlier). We should expect HGP to be huge upside prospects, our blue chips. A key play made by a player of Okoli’s pedigree, in retrospect, is not that surprising. Do I expect double-digit assists or goals this season. No. But I sure am excited to see his hustle and potential every time he gets the nod. And after the thrashing U-Dub dropped on the Sounders Reserves, I want to see Darwin Jones trade purple for Rave Green pronto!

The All-New All-Different Seattle Sounders

It was raining hard and the Sounders were about to pull off the comeback. November 19th, 2012. Second leg of the Western Conference Finals. With goals from Eddie and Zach Scott, we are just one away from equalizing. We had finally gotten past the first round. We had finally won our first playoff series, that epic tilt against RSL.

Remember the starting 11? Gspurning, Johansson, Parke, Hurtado, Scott, Tiffert, Ozzie, Brad, Zakuani, Fredy and Eddie. This was the climax of Sigi and Adrian’s roster building. These were the Sounders destined to bring home the Cup. But they weren’t. All it took was a cunning Robbie Keane and a questionable handball on Johansson.

After THE handball, the front office started dismantling the roster. Now starting 2014 we are a shadow of that team. Last year’s team wasn’t “on the bubble” or “a Shalrie Joseph (or even a Clint Dempsey) away from the Cup.” 2013’s chemistry experiment blew up in all of our faces.

So yeah, we needed to take a step back and “reload” or “rebuild.” But rebuilding in a completely different way than in other professional American sports leagues. Roster building and consistency is completely different in MLS (and we are all still getting used to this– and to make it trickier, MLS loves moving the goalposts). In the NFL, roster building typically revolves around a five-year plan and maximizing that window (in a future post I’d like to look at roster consistency/turnover around the league and see how that contributes to W-L).

So few Sounders were Sounders just two years ago. Sounder@Heart noted only 8 (9 if you count Hahnemann) current Sounders were on the roster in 2012. Who’s left on the squad and suited up against SKC on Saturday? Ozzie, Brad (the RB platoon from 2012 of Scott/Leo is still here, but Remick could change that if he pulls a Yedlin and displaces an injured vet, but that’s another post). That’s around 80% turnover from arguably the best team the Sounders (according to results in the postseason) ever fielded. That team had DPs in Fredy, Tiffert and Mauro, plus talent on the cheap in Ozzie and Eddie and quality vets like Evans, Parke and Leo. That was a talented, talented team.

The Sounders are coming out of their first 5-year window. Years 1-4 were Fredy driven and culminated a single game short of the Cup. Last season, year 5, was a shoot the moon season with a descending, but stacked roster. Sigi and Adrian were trying to retool on the fly. Now? We are officially in a new era. There’s been a revolution at Starfire and we’re looking at the All-New, All-Different Sounders (and it’s still a little funny to see Kenny Cooper in Rave Green).

Sporting Kansas City at Seattle Sounders: Deja Vu, Baby!

Chad Barrett entered a pantheon of surprising Sounders scoring at-the-death goals against SKC. After a wet and soggy ninety minutes, the Sounders had the game right where they wanted it. And yours truly was jumping around with the other 39,239 raving faithful on a rainy First Kick Saturday.

To celebrate Mrs. Ravinggreen’s birthday, we stood in the Seattle sunshine for three hours. We jumped, clapped, sang and cheered. I was quietly optimistic about our chances to win. But I was frankly more excited to see our new team gel. By the 90th minute, I was soaking wet, but content.

I was completely happy with the nil-nil draw. After the slaughterhouse Colorado and Vancouver games last year, I just relived with the new-look back five delivering a clean sheet. The new guys were performing well, especially Chad Marshall and Sean Okoli (wow!), and Dempsey was playing some meaningful minutes. All was good at the Clink. Then Chad Barrett happened. A killer feed from Ozzie to Dempsey, then Deuce finds Okoli who crosses back to Dempsey who takes not one, but two strikes before Barrett stabs it home. And the crowd went wild. Wet and bedraggled and delirious, it was a helluva birthday present.

It was fun game for many reasons. One, we won. Two, we won. Three, I just love cheering against SKC. I hate them, especially Jimmy Nielsen, Aurelien Collin and Peter Vermes. Thank god Nielsen retired. Another bonus to today’s game was that I didn’t have to see his tongue. It just made me all sorts of crazy when he would get all squinty-eyed and tongue-waggy between the pipes.

Whenever a broadcaster says, Vermes molded his team into the type of player he was, I always think, Peter Vermes was somehow both a goon and a flopper? The “flopoon” or “goopper” is an oxymoron I still haven’t figured out. But like the flight of the bumblebee it is nature that defies reason. SKC is absolutely a team that will physically hack you to death (25 fouls!?) while also rolling around on the turf deserving Oscars. They are just easy to hate.

Of course it all goes back to the US Open Cup. But other than Jimmy Nielsen’s facial contortions, I don’t remember much else I was pissed at SKC about. My memory is fogged red with memories of referee Ricardo Salazar. Maybe all these at-the-death winners is our karmic retribution for stealing our would-have-been-history-making-fourth US Open Cup.

Did I mention how happy I am we won (and that Nielsen retired)?

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