The Seattle Sounders, Reign and USMNT won the Triple Crown. Okay, maybe that’s a bit hyperbolic, but on a day that California Chrome couldn’t deliver, your favorite soccer teams did.
On a gorgeous Seattle Saturday, I posted up at the George and Dragon with some visiting friends to watch the Stars and Stripes take down the Nigerian Super Eagles 2-1. Jozy Altidore finally looked like Jozy Altidore (funny how some players can go through cold streaks, but still deserve to be on the National Team), and the backline, though shaky, held firm in not conceding a single goal from the run of play. Though I’d have loved to see Brad Evans get the nod, Fabian Johnson continues to impress for the USMNT. He is solid with his defending, 1v1 and positionally, but his true contribution is adding dimension to the attack. Almost every goal scored goes through him. The Yanks are finally playing modern, fullbacks-keying-the-attack soccer. The only moment of concern came, when Captain America Clint Dempsey went down hard on a rough Nigerian challenge. Luckily, he popped up and looked none the worse for the wear. Though physicality and injuries were to be a theme for the day.
The Seattle Sounders beat the Chicago Fire 3-2 in their final match before the World Cup break. Mrs. Ravinggreen soon joined me on the patio, as my buddies ambled off to a different bar (to watch the hated Timbers!). After the final whistle for the Yanks, I quickly switched from red, white and blue to Rave Green and Cascade Shale.
We watched the oddest Sounders game I’ve seen in a while. It was a physical game with eight bookings (two reds) and 32 fouls (60% of which belonged to Chicago). No surprise considering Chicago coach Frank Yallop made his name as the goon maestro in San Jose for the last six years. The Sounders were looking like the superior team, and spurned Super Eagle Obafemi Martins played like a man possessed, scoring a brace. He scored a gorgeous goal on a twisiting pivot in the box before earning and nailing a penalty seven minutes later. The lovable but errant Jhon Kennedy Hurtado lived up to my expectations and saw red on the Martins foul.
Up two and with a man advantage, the Sounders looked ready to romp. Yet Rookie of the Year-candidate Harry Shipp scored a brace and showed his quality. After his first goal, everything went bonkers. Dave Clark was right, things just stopped make sense. All I know is, there was a melee in front of goal and, somehow, Martins was sent off. The teams went into the break even at 10-men with only a goal difference. Thankfully the Sounders continued to weather Chicago’s physicality and Lamar Neagle delivered the win.
Neale’s patience on the go-ahead goal was stellar. Everyone in the bar was screaming for him to one-time the deflected cross from Marco Pappa. Pappa delivered a gorgeous ball into the box that Kenny Cooper served up with his head. The ball ambled in a slow parabola towards Neagle at the far post, spinning in infinity. Neagle calmly let the ball bounce before tapping it once with his knee, as everyone at the pub is standing and screaming. The ball bounced once more off the grass before Neale whacked in a curling shot that the Chicago keeper was powerless to prevent. The bar erupted with joy and the surging Sounders have now taken 32 points in 15 games to stand alone atop the table.
After ordering some meaty refreshments, we settled in to watch the Seattle Reign continued their winning ways with another a stunning come-from-behind victory. The women of the Reign beat the Chicago Red Stars 3-1, in a game that was much closer than the box score indicates. The Red Stars seemed to be following their brother club’s penchant for physicality, as cards were handed out like candy at a parade. Captain Keelin Winters took a worrying blow early in the second half. She was woozy after the hit initially, and tried to keep playing before having to come out.
Two of Seattle’s goals were off penalty kicks. Both of which came off egregious fouls in the box. Sydney Leroux was seriously hit, almost like a defensiveless receiver crossing the flat in an NFL game. She, surprisingly, popped up and finished the game strong. She delivered, arguably, the most beautiful goal I have ever seen just before her hit. Superstar Kim Little found Leroux with space in the box and Leroux put the ball on an elevator, quickly up and quickly down, right into the back of the net. It was a thing of beauty on a beautiful soccer day. The wife and I settled the bill, stated on soccer.