Month – October 2016

Seattle Sounders Whup FC Dallas 3-0!!!

Your Seattle Sounders played the best playoff game in their history!!! Beating RSL 1-0 in 2012 was great. Beating L.A. last year too. But tonight we destroyed treble-chasing FC Dallas 3-0. Destroyed. De. Stroyed!!

5 games in 18 days: injuries, replacements, fatigue, irregular lineups, none of it mattered. The Seattle Sounders are thisclose! to the Western Conference Finals!!!

BOLD PREDICTION: Seattle Sounders vs. FC Dallas

Tonight in Sodo, the Seattle Sounders and FC Dallas continue their MLS Western Conference Playoff Rivalry. The two teams are meeting on the pitch in the semis for the third straight season (make it 4, considering Dallas coach Oscar Pareja coached the Rapids in Seattle’s 2013 Knockout Round victory), so the teams know each other well.

Dallas felt hard done when they were eliminated on away goals in 2014, and we reciprocated, when away goals, and a PK shootout, nipped us last year. Though with Mauro Diaz injured, Nico Lodeiro in Rave Green, and Sigi in a brief retirement, I’m predicting this year’s matchup to be something completely different.

BOLD PREDICTION:

Seattle is playing their 5th game in 19 days. Our boys are tuckered out, with Roman Torres a game-time decision tonight with a tight hammy. Brad Evans would be the next best option at CB, but he may not be 90 minutes fit. Big Chad Marshall, Thursday’s hero Valdez, Oalex and Remick are also listed as questionable.

Our fixture congestion has been bananas. Though being the higher seed in the Knockout Round while the lower seed in the semis helps, as it gave us 3 straight games in Sodo, our team is knackered. I am flabbergasted that the two teams that advanced from Thursday (Montreal and us) only got 2 days off before the semis, while Wednesday’s winners (L.A. and TFC) got 3… I guess the higher seeds deserve that bonus?

I keep waiting for Ivanschitz to be available for selection. He was doing yeoman’s work while we were enjoying our best run of the season (5 straight results, 13 pts., starting September 10th, including the 4-2 romp in Carson). We’ve employed a much spottier attack without him.

Dallas’s attack may also be sputtering. In the lone game post-Mauro Diaz, the Hoops only mustered 2 shots on target and completed just 60% of their passes in the attacking half. Pareja (who is hard guy to like), abandoned his favored 4-2-3-1 formation for a 4-4-2 in that game. He may be considering flip-flopping back to the old formation with former Sounder Mauro Rosales as a like-for-like swap for Diaz.

Okay… prediction time. I was way too optimistic on Thursday night. But a rough-and-tumble performance against the thuggery of SKC saw us through. I’m all for grit, but the Sounders need to get it together tonight if they want a positive result.

Ozzie’s frayed nerves may be another casualty of the Sounders packed dance card. Honey Badger needs to simmer. down. now. He was thisclose! to ending the Sounders season. As lame-o and whiney as both Benny Feilhaber and Peter Vermes were during and after the game, nine times out of ten, Ozzie probably sees red on that tackle.

Seattle can put themselves in a great spot with a clean sheet tonight. Both of the Seattle-Dallas semifinal matchups over the last 2 years were settled on away goals. I am thinking the Sounders “win” a nil-nil draw, but screw it. Don’t stop believing: Sounders 2-0.

Seattle Sounders On to Dallas!!

The Seattle Sounders are through to the semis!! My unbridled optimism may have been misplaced, but the Sounders gritted out a sensational, nervy performance last night against Sporting Kansas City to continue their improbable 2016 success. FC Dallas and their aspirations for the Treble will be in Sodo Sunday night.

Just real quick: doesn’t it feel soooo good to be on the other side of mercurial officiating? 2016 has seen so many horrible calls go against Seattle, but for one night, we got the breaks. And such a twist of fate couldn’t have happened against a more deserving team than SKC. Those punks won this year’s First Kick match on questionable reffing and lifted the 2012 US Open Cup on far more controversial calls.

Cry me a river, Benny:

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!! Damn it feels good to be a Sounder.

Seattle Sounders vs SKC: Bold Prediction!

The Seattle Sounders hosts Sporting Kansas City tonight in the final match of the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs Knockout Round.

Seattle is hosting their 3rd Knockout Game in team history and look to stay perfect. Kansas City would love to reverse the curse of last year’s knockout game madness (2 rounds of PKs, a double-poster, goalie vs goalie). It’s crazy to think that such stalwart rivals have never met in the playoffs before (though SKC has only shared the West with Seattle for two years), and now a new chapter gets to be written in this rivalry.

BOLD PREDICTION:

I am watching the DCU-MTL game currently and am flabbergasted that Montreal, the team with all the locker room drama, is grinding out a professional result away. Despite the score in the game currently being contested, the home team holds an incredible advantage in MLS Knockout games, having won 9 of the last 11.

Other numbers look good for a Seattle win tonight. SKC has only won 3 times away this season, whereas Seattle has taken all 3 points at home 10 times. Of course the last time these two teams met in Seattle, SKC won 1-0. But other than that result, SKC’s two road wins were separated by 5 months and 3 weeks; they won 2-0 at RBNY on April 9th, and then recently dispatched the Quakes in the South Bay in late September.

The win at the Red Bulls looks great on SKC’s 2016 resume. But context: that result in New York New Jersey, came during the Red Bulls atrocious start, where they lost 6 of their first 7 matches, while only scoring 5 goals and being shut out 5 times. New York is no longer that team that lost to Sporting, and neither are the Sounders.

The context for our first home loss paints a very different picture than the score line. Oneil Fisher saw straight red on a tickytacky call in the 30th minute and SKC had over an hour to find the winner. Of course Fisher won’t be our first choice RB tonight, and Nico Lodeiro will be on the pitch, but the biggest difference will be J-Mo Smooth.

Jordan Morris, in his professional debut, was not the player he is now. He flashed potential but also began his finishing troubles in that SKC match.

Now Morris has the finishing quality to accompany his speed, vision and hustle. J-Mo with a brace. The party continues. Seattle 3-1.

Seattle Sounders Flash Playoff Preview

The Seattle Sounders pulled off the turnaround on Sunday, beating RSL 2-1 and clinching a home playoff game in the MLS Cup Playoffs.

I am stoked, stoked!, just to continue our playoffs trend (especially consider Pee Town has such trouble starting any sort of playoffs streak), and yet I am always #hellagreedy. Tempering my excitement after Sunday’s result, I continue wavering between ferocious optimism and jaded skepticism with this team. As I wrote last week, Seattle is still very much a team under construction.

Considering context, the Sounders are fielding their weakest playoff roster yet in the MLS era (though if we were to imagine such Sounders-on-Sounders crime, this team would probably make short work of the 2010 squad). We only have 1.5 DPs, we only have one solid option at forward (a rookie, no less), and our team is old and injury-prone.

And yet, 2016 could very well be the year Seattle hoists the Cup. The Western Conference has never been in such disarray. Can Seattle beat SKC, their Thursday night play-in game opponent? Yes. Though we’ve lost to them twice this season, that includes the First Kick Oniel Fisher red card game, and Sigi’s 3-nil Waterloo. SKC has a sloppy defense and a mediocre form going into the playoffs, and have yet to face Nico Lodeiro. If we win Thursday, Dallas, for the second year in a row, is our probable opponent in the semis.

Dallas, the class of the league all season, just lost Mauro Diaz for the playoffs. His absence, plus the recent departure of Fabian Castillo, has reduced Dallas to a shell of its former glory. Can Seattle beat a Diaz-less Dallas side? Most definitely yes. Severely undermanned, we were robbed of a result in Frisco just last week. With Ozzie and Brad and Valdez, and possibly Ivanschitz, we could wallop the Hoops.

That leaves, realistically (sorry RSL), either L.A. or Colorado in the Conference Finals. Regular bullies, L.A. has been inconsistent all season. Only Colorado (Colorado?! of all teams) has sustained excellent form all season and enters the playoffs healthy (add the potential return of Jermaine Jones and the Rapids are looking scary). Maybe I am naïve, but Colorado honestly doesn’t scare me all that much.

Thursday night could be the beginning of something big. As coach Schmetzer said postgame, we’re just getting started.

Seattle Sounders Officially Rebuilding

Okay, so I finally have stomached the gall from Sunday’s Debacle in Dallas Frisco, to write about the Seattle Sounders.

“Younger and faster” has been the mantra for President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey since he got here. Earlier this season (though I can’t find a link to the quote currently), Lagerwey specifically said that Dallas wins last season’s Western Conference semifinal matchup “ 9 out of 10 times” because Dallas was younger and faster. Well, the Hoops are still younger and faster. And they beat us again.

The problem is still the age of this roster. I’ve been saying this for a while, but age is great for experience and ability, but it stinks for availability. The minutes lost to sundry age-related knocks and bruises has been disastrous for this Sounders team. We went down to Dallas missing Brad, Ivanschitz and Valdez because of various aches and pains, not to mention Deuce’s ongoing medical situation. Add Ozzie’s hotheadedness and it was a shell of the Sounders.

Silver lining? That shell traveled, on short rest, to battle the class of the league to a near result, and–hell–almost a victory (#geigered).

We are getting “younger and faster.” Jordan Morris will only get better (before he gets his European work visa), Cristian Roldan has arrived, Lodeiro is already the man, and Joevin Jones played his best game in Rave Green Pacific Blue. We can also cheat and say Roman Torres is young’ish (turned 30 this year) for a centerback

If this sounds like I am backpedaling from all my unbridled optimism from last week, well… I am. 1 point from 2 games, and no dance card punched, isn’t exactly what anyone had in mind going into Decision Day. Hopefully we make the playoffs just to spite the Timbers and keep our record going, but MLS Cup… forget about it. Take the long view, we are rebuilding. And if the worst Sounders season in history still sees us in the playoffs, I’ll take it.

Still Fuming Over Ozzie Alonso’s Red Card

Just rewatch the footage. It’s a simple sequence of events: Will Bruin kicks out on Ozzie twice (or rather 1.5 times ’cause the first one was such a limp little attempt), Ozzie get pissed and marches over to get in Bruin’s grill. Bruin doesn’t just bark back, but grabs Ozzie: first by the arm and then the scruff of the neck, and he does not let go. Bruin has has 3 inches and 35 pounds on Ozzie, who swipes at Bruin’s face. The fight is broken up. Bruin milks the “hands to face.” Ozzie gets the red. Totally infuriating.

Seattle Sounders Look To Punch Their Ticket

The Seattle Sounder can book their place in the MLS Playoffs with a win tonight against the Houston Dynamo. Part of me cannot believe I just wrote that.

On July 24th, after falling 3-0 to SKC in Sigi’s Waterloo, Seattle were 9th in the West and averaging a lone point per game.

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-2-27-09-pmNow, just 11 matches later, we sit at 5th and 1.42 ppg. And if we win tonight we’ll be just a smidge under the magical 1.5 ppg, Sigi’s old standard for making the playoffs.

Bold Prediction: And win we should. Houston stinks. Sorry Wade Barrett, but it’s true. And they really stink away from the Bayou City, as the Dynamo only average .66 ppg on the road (still better than Portland’s whopping DONUT away from the pretensions confines of Hipstertopia). While we’re looking at decimals, check out 1.87, Seattle’s ppg at home this year (and that’s even after we lost our first 2 home games, and 5 of our first 9).

Houston’s troubles are compounded by fixture congestion, as they just played Colorado at home on Wednesday before flying across the country to face their “Western” Conference foe. Also Houston will be missing Alex, who’s on a little goal-scoring run, and Seattle will have both internationals, Jordan Morris and Nico Lodeiro back in Rave Green.

Long story short: Houston is in deep trouble. Seattle emphatically punches their ticket to the dance. Sounders 3-0.

MLS Quick Links: Disparaging Managers

Your Seattle Sounders are enjoying their international break, as is your humble blogger. No worries, I haven’t wandered off into another month-long walkabout.

Some quick hits to tide you over:

Congrats to Bob Bradley on earning the nod from Swansea. I’m proud to see Bradley as the first American manager to rep the Red, White and Blue across the pond (oh wait, their flag is the same colors…) rep the Stars and Stripes, that is.

The Guardian has a tidy write-up. I believe that Bradley is absolutely the right man for the job. He’s used to hardship, financial constraint, and rebuilding. Give ‘em hell Bob.

In other managerial news, Bruce Arena thinks flying commercial is a joke. He tells his players to not rock their logos when they fly Southwest to not damage the image of the league. C’mon again? Sure I get optics and branding, yadda yadda, but seriously? This is what Bruce Arena is worried about? I guess when you repeatedly rely on the scraps of descending international stars (Keane, Gerrard, Dos Santos, et al) to build your roster, it’s tough to sell coach.

Too bad Klinsmann or Caleb Porter didn’t say or do anything really asinine recently. About the worst I got was Porter claiming that Colorado’s “belief” won them the game last weekend. Normally that’s Klinsmann’s bailiwick, chalking up losses to New Age-y Neoplatonic bullshit like “heart.” I am heartened to think that Porter is regressing into a Klinsmann.

Portland is having their worst season under Porter. Even if they win out they’ll finish with only 47 points, just under 2014’s playoffless 49. Portland’s not gonna win out. As much as Portland winning MLS Cup before Seattle chaffed my very soul, if Merritt Paulson keeps an underwhelming Porter in charge for 5 years too many, riding on the coattails of 2015 (much Like Klinsmann is still milking his run to 3rd with Die Mannschaft in 2006), and he runs the franchise into the dirt. Well then. Seeing Portland win the Cup last year just might be the best thing that ever happened to Seattle.

 

Seattle Sounders Win a Wild West Showdown

The Seattle Sounders beat the Vancouver Whitecaps in a Wild West showdown last night at BC Place. The game was good, bad and ugly. The good: The Sounders, terribly undermanned, took all 3 points away. The bad: Captain Brad’s return from injury was marred by a stupid red card that will keep him out against Houston. The ugly: Olympic White kits.

sounders_goodbaduglyWith everything going right for Seattle, the first 25 minutes of last night’s game were terrifying. I had some serious early-2016 PTSD when Ivanschitz was a late game scratch (a little Oba-esque, as in “oh were you counting on selecting a player only to find him unavailable at the last second?”). Then Flacco got injured early (see the Sounders’ early injury ward woes), then Fisher pulled another boneheaded play (First Kick against SKC, ugh.) Then the zebras were giving away free PKs to the ‘Caps (#geigered).

But these are not the Sounders you remember. These are the Fightin’ Schmetzers, and no Nico, No Deuce, no problem. Seattle dug deep into its depth, and Schmetzer rolled out a formation that took advantage of it and we held on for a gritty win against an old foe. Now Seattle sits comfortably above the red line at 5th place.

Sounders fans don’t need to ask anymore if we’ll make the playoffs, but rather wonder how high we’ll seed. 4th place is looking very do-able, especially with the RSL matchup to close out the season. And 3rd place is even within our reach. If L.A. continues its horrible run of form, the Gals only have 2 wins in their last 12 games, and just 5 points in their last 5 games, and we take care of business at home, the #3 seed is ours. Both Seattle and L.A. would sit at 50 points, and we’d take the tiebreaker with more wins.

I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but with the international break all we can do is hope and hype. Damn it feels good to be a Sounder.

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