Cascadia Cup

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.

Seattle Sounders at Vancouver Whitecaps: Bold Prediction

The Seattle Sounders lucked out Saturday night as the MLS Western Conference decided to roll out the red carpet. The Sounders now have a clear path to the playoffs and may even host in the knockout round.

Portland, Sporting Kansas City, L.A. and RSL all lost last night. The Timbers, hoping to nip our heels, fell 1-nil at Colorado, and SKC, the team directly above the Sounders, fell 3-1 to the redhot Revolution in New England. The icing on the cake was that RSL, once upon a seemingly untouchable at 4th in the West, fell 2-1 to San Jose. After these three results, Seattle not only seemingly has the playoffs on lock, but could potentially leapfrog all the way to 4th place.

screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-2-41-39-amNot too long ago, Seattle sat mired in 9th place in the West. Back then, San Jose and Seattle were competing to see which cellar dweller could leverage their games in hand and mount a push for the red line. On August 12th, the Quakes were on a torrid pace, unbeaten in 5 games while taking 9 points. We sat behind San Jose’s 31 points with 27, but had had just started to turn our season around as well, with three straight results.

Of course you make your own luck and Seattle has been on a tear lately. Since August 12th, Seattle’s taken 14 points from 7 matches while San Jose has gotten merely 6 from 8. Now we’re firmly in control of our playoff destiny, while San Jose has to settle for morale victories like last night’s.

Cliché disclaimer: none of these results matter if Seattle doesn’t take care of business today at BC Place. Though Seattle is looking primed to pounce, we haven’t clinched anything yet. A big win today in our last Cascadia derby could all but punch our ticket to the postseason.

Bold Prediction: Wow. It feels good to be boldly proclaiming again. Frankly, today’s game won’t be pretty. Nico Lodeiro is suspended due to yellow card accumulation meaning Seattle will employ only a half a DP (sorry Valdez). So even with J-Mo smooth tearing up the league, our attack will be stifled. Thankfully Vancouver has been atrocious lately, with only 5 points in their last 9 games while being shut out 6 times. The ‘Caps did manage 3 goals in 3-3 draw with Colorado last week, but hopefully that is just a fluke.

I see Seattle, tired from fixture congestion and often stymied by our neighbors to the north, settling for a 1-1 draw. J-Mo strikes again and has his eyes firmly on Cyle Larin’s rookie record.

Seattle Sounders Fall to Flopping ‘Caps

The Seattle Sounders got jobbed by the Vancouver Whitecaps and Referee Mark Geiger 2-1 on Saturday night.

As a fan I trend to the mammal brain. I yell loudly in the stadium (oftentimes direct invectives at refs or opposing players (usually embarrassing my wife)), I embrace unbridled hate for my rivals and I relish, with a deep soul rattling release, a victory.

As a blogger I try to be bit more objective. I try not to truck in conspiracy or pettiness. I certainly represent a Seattle perspective, but I am a journalist of sorts. I have a sacred duty of reportage to uphold.

However.

Saturday night’s loss has me livid. Vancouver played the most cynical game of soccer that I’ve ever seen. Both teams were hungry, but Vancouver resorted to outright thuggery. The called fouls, 20-14, look only slightly lopsided but don’t tell the story. Vancouver often got away with murder.

This wasn’t a foul:

This wasn’t a yellow:

This wasn’t a red:

CeFb5ukUYAA4Q9z.jpg_large

And Vancouver flopped early and flopped often. This worked to even the tally. There were four goal kicks in a row late in the second half where Ousted would boot it for Blas Perez, Perez would hop and flop and Geiger would whistle the spot. It was like clockwork, Ousted to Perez to grass to whistle. Wham-bam.

All of this could be chalked up to a sloppy game and a bad ref, but what really chaffs my craw is what Vancouver coach Carl Robinson said postgame:

We showed a bit of grit and determination. They’re knockered a bit and they’ve got ice packs all over them, and that’s what you need to do in this game.

That is disgusting and cynical. Robinson coached his team to foul. He coached his time to punch, grab, tackle and “knocker” us, because “that what you need to do.” That is straight out of the Vermes book of coaching.

Robinsons is probably still salty after limping out of the playoffs last season, but c’mon man. I actually kinda used to respect the ‘Caps as one of the teams that did it right. Now they are just another disciple to the art of flopoonery.

Say what you want about the Sounders, but they take the pitch to play soccer. Not to play hurt.  You can’t say the same thing about Vancouver.

Bold Prediction: Seattle Sounders vs. Vancouver Whitecaps

Seattle Sounders Matchday! Hopefully today’s the day we get off the schneid, though the Vancouver Whitecaps are equally eager to grab 3 points.

I apologize for my absence from the blogosphere as of late. I have been tussling with another bout of forever cold. I’ve only had the strength to sleep, cough and binge Agents of Shield. I’m finally getting my strength up and Mrs. Ravinggreen and I will be in Sodo this evening looking for Seattle’s first win.

It is a big game for Seattle. Much has been made about how both clubs are desperate, but I’d argue the Sounders are hungrier for points. We’ve lost to two Western Conference foes (and those are, even in March, always 6 pointers). The ‘Caps loss to Montreal may sting, but won’t further affect the playoff race. Though Who wants it more? never means anything, much to the chagrin of the neo-Platonists. This game, like most, will be won by the team that plays better and gets the lucky bounce.

Both teams have been sloppy this year. Vancouver’s given up a crap ton of goals. The ‘Caps should have a terrific defense with Watson and Parker always in the thick of things, but they’ve hemorrhaged 5 goals in only two games. Chances are Seattle should finally find some joy after scoring just a single goal so far.

Bold Prediction: The Cascadia Cup rivalry starts early and Seattle looks to defend their only silverware from 2015.

Spoiler alert: Vancouver has long won with the counter. The Sounders have always struggled against the counter.

Vancouver has fallen behind 2-0 before the 42nd minute in both of their games this year. They are not built to win that way. The ‘Caps want their defense to keep them even and then pounce when their opponent overextends to attack. When the ‘Caps fall behind by a significant margin, their opponent can tighten up and strangle the counter.

Looking to establish their identity, Seattle will attack the ‘Caps. Unfortunately this plays to Vancouver’s strengths. The Sounders are again weak up the gut, missing Evans and Friberg. Zach Scott and his lack of fleet feet terrifies me against a team hungry to counter.

I want to call a win, I really do. But Seattle hasn’t shown me they’ve put it all together yet. Sounders and ‘Caps draw 1-1.

The Annotated Caleb Porter

One of the best parts of being a Seattle Sounders fan is hating the Portland Timbers. Portland coach Caleb Porter is whining again and I love it.

Porter is the cherry on top of the mountain high hate pie because his pettiness, delusions of grandeur and awkward cocksure bravado are simply delicious. He sure had a lot to say following Sunday’s pivotal Cascadia matchup, here are some of the tastiest morsels:

They [Seattle] had nothing. I think back on the game and I can’t even remember not one time where they broke us down.

Huh? We “had nothing” even though Obafemi Martins was dancing around in the box unmolested and slammed home a cheeky goal? We “had nothing” but Mears put a beautiful ball over the top to Oba forcing Kwarasey into a to-foul-or-not-to-foul decision? Portland had more chances. Portland had better chances, but Seattle most definitely did not “have nothing.”

Their high-powered, big-budget team had trouble.

Don’t pat yourselves on the back too hard Portland. We’ve been having trouble for over two months. Hell, we had more trouble against cellar-dweller RSL last week. And sure, we have a big-budget team, but we only had 2 DPs start while you had all 3. What’s your excuse for that?

They couldn’t create much on us, and they get out of this game with three points off of a poor first goal, I think with a couple fouls, and a PK.

Okay, I know you fancy yourself the arbiter of “good soccer” and that you hate long throw-ins, yadda yadda. Maybe I can kinda see your point there, but what of Oba’s first goal was “poor”? And what are you referring to with “a couple fouls”? The most egregious non-called fouls I saw were Adi’s patented back-to-goal flops. The most obvious earned Portland the freekick to end the game, but Adi repeatedly flopped throughout the match. He’d face away from goal, back into Chad Marshall and then right as the ball arrived slip down to his butt. More often than not, his fishing found a whistle

Due to the subjectivity of the officiating in soccer in general, and MLS particularly, penalties are usually controversial. But they do happen. They count as goals and can win you games. Get over it, Caleb.

I thought the official was very poor. I’ll stick with the theme of coaches complaining this week, but the reality is I call a spade a spade, and the official was very poor today.

Let’s be real, the officiating was far worse in our US Open Cup match. In that game, the ref was an overmatched newb with authority issues but his erratic and inconsistent calls benefitted you. So let’s call a spade a spade: you are a biased, sanctimonious, delusional prick, not some paragon of straight shooting objectivity.

I thought the game was very poorly managed by the official…Just like coaches have poor games and players have poor games, I thought he had a poor game.

Coaches have bad games, huh Caleb?

 

All is Right in the World: Seattle Sounders Beat Portland Timbers!

The Seattle Sounders won BIG against their blood rivals, the Portland Timbers, Sunday night in Sodo.

The hugeness of the victory cannot be understated: 6 points in the Western Conference, 3 points towards the Cascadia Cup, climbing back above the thin red line, Ozzie’s return and, maybe most important of all, we beat Portland. That’s what we do. It’s nice to be reminded what reality you live in. We most definitely live in the Seattle > Portland reality.

The win was big but the game wasn’t exactly pretty. The Timbers were the “better” team on the balance of the night, especially in the first half. The Timbers, passing crisply, dominated possession in the midfield and sparked surge after surge of attacks. Portland vastly outplayed us, putting 13 shots on goal before intermission to our 3. But. Goals change games and Obafemi Martins is a game changer.

Portland can point to their first half stats all they want, but Seattle got the numbers that matter. Oba and Valdez were trying to start a little linkup early in the match, the ball was pinballing possession between the two teams, but Oba persisted in a scrum of Timbers ‘til he found himself with a sitter on Kwarasey’s doorstep. 1-0 Seattle.

Seattle’s second goal, also created by Oba, was a tad more complicated. Mears found Oba alone and boomed one over the top. Oba gave chase until Kwarasey stonewalled him in the box. Sure, the call was controversial, as Taylor Twellman and Ian Darke constantly reminded us, but soccer is a subjective game.

If Oba’s first touch was a “shot on goal” then Kwarasey had every right to stand his ground, but if Oba’s touch was just to control the ball and set up his goal scoring opportunity, then Kwarasey fouled Oba by denying him that chance. Despite the whining you hear emanating north from Pee-Town, the call was solid. Clearly the ref saw the latter reality and his perception is the only one that matters. And honestly Timbers fans, do you really think that first touch was Oba’s attempt on goal? Oba don’t have bad touches in the goalmouth, unlike some Argentinians I can name (*cough* Melano *cough* Urruti).

Sure the second half saw Jewsbury get one back, but the game was pretty well in hand. Portland managed 7 more shots to our 3 in the final 45, and that makes sense. They were chasing the game. So Timbers fans can take their bawling about refs, and stats and shove it. We got the W, all three points when it mattered. Did we get lucky? Sure. But you make your own luck and Seattle is just warming up.

 

Seattle Sounders Routed By Vancouver Whitecaps aka Officially Time To Panic

The Seattle Sounders were garbage Saturday night against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

The Sounders are very, very broken. With a golden opportunity to turn the page on July, clinch the Cascadia Cup and get their groove back, the Sounders pooped the bed. Utterly and undeniably. The offense was still crap and the defense was worse, as the team was whipped mentally and physically.

This is THE worst run in Sounders history, both objectively (we’ve never had a four game losing streak) and emotionally (we’ve never looked so beaten). Sometimes Seattle gets blown out, it happens. But normally these blowouts are isolated events amidst a stellar run of form, and normally these blowouts are delivered by great teams (like L.A.). Rarely is Seattle routed by middling teams, rivals no less, at home.

I am a Sounders supporter and I am panicking. I’m calling it: what we are experiencing right now is worse than the 2013 collapse. There. I said it. If the sky was falling then, the whole universe is crashing down now. Let’s remember that this team returned nearly everyone from a Supporters’-Shield-USOC-winning double. This team was a hair’s breath away from the MLS Cup. Now they inexplicably stink and they’ve been stinking.

I am sick of blaming roster turnover, injuries and suspensions. It is inexcusable that Seattle didn’t bag more than 6 points from their last 10 games. A run of games that included 5 at home, 4 against the Eastern Conference and 2 against the West’s cellar dwellers. Seattle is at .6 ppg from their last 10. Even with the absences we should have been able to muster some draws.

Sure, Dempsey played Saturday then Wednesday, and barely practiced with Thomas and Friberg. Sure, Seattle has 11 more games to right their ship. Sure, all they need to do is make the now-expanded playoff field to potentially pull an L.A. and salvage this season. But our Open Cup dreams were crushed by Portland. The Supporters’ Shield defense, barring a complete script-flip where the Sounders win 8 of their next 10, is cooked. All of sudden, the best this team can do is lick its wounds, get its head right, and hope to make the playoffs. We should be better than this. We deserve better than this.

 

Seattle Sounders Lose (Again) to Portland Timbers

The Seattle Sounders suffered their worst lost to the Portland Timbers in the MLS era, 4-1, last night. For the first time in MLS history, the Sounders have lost three straight.

Both teams were hungry to recapture their winning ways, the Timbers after their 5-1 blowout loss to LA and Seattle after losing to two cellar dwellers in San Jose and Philly. It was Portland who started, and ended, the night strong.

My favorite whipping boy, Darlington Nagbe, actually had a goal. A unicorn made love to a sasquatch in the pot of gold at the end of a double rainbow on February 29th and Nagbe’s shot found the back of the net. But the overmatched Sounders fought back and equalized on a Lamar Neagle strike off a Tyrone Mears cross. This was Seattle’s first goal with a DP-less lineup, and I hoped the Sounders were finally flipping the script from underachieving losers to gritty survivors. The 1-1 score line at the half was well earned, and everything was going great until around the 65th minute.

I hate to say this, but hats off to Portland. They hustled and finished their chances well. A top-choice Timbers squad should beat a Sounders team featuring Oneil Fisher, Andy Craven and Darwin Jones. So congrats to Portland for getting the job done. Shortly after Craven came on for Barrett, possession flipped firmly to Portland’s favor. Adi scored to solid goals in less than two minutes, as the Sounders, frankly, lost composure (no comment on Fisher’s contribution to the two goals). Replacing Rose with Roldan, put even more youth on the field, and eventually Wallace added the fourth goal in stoppage time. It probably felt really good to beat the dead horse.

After their putrid run of form, getting blown out of the park in a Cascadia derby wasn’t exactly what Seattle needed. Luckily, this blowout has an asterisk. Portland leveled a tired, vastly undermanned Sounders team. The loss sucks, because Portland sucks, but I can contextualize it within the frame of “we don’t have our DPs. what do you expect?” But after 5 games of this, we can’t keep chalking up putrid offense displays and sloppy defense to our DP-less phase. I am sick of contextualizing. We need the Sounders we have to change this narrative.

 

Seattle Sounders Tiki Taka Over Vancouver Whitecaps

The Seattle Sounders took a commanding lead in the Cascadia Cup rankings beating the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-0 Saturday.

Though early in the season, this was a fabulous result for many reasons: a Western Conference six-pointer, the aforementioned Cascadia implications, grabbing 6 points on a 3 game road trip and Hydra is back. With Obafemi Martins sidelined, Seattle just called in their other brace-capable striker, Chad Barrett. Now Clint, Oba, Neagle and Barrett have opened accounts and are looking for interest.

We also shook the Vancouver bugaboo. Seattle was 0-4-1 against the ‘Caps in their last five and had never (?!) won at BC Place. The Supporters’ Shield and 4th Open Cup were historic last season, but c’mon guys, first win at BC Place!!

The best part of Saturday’s win was the 25-pass (31?) sequence that culminated in Barrett’s second goal. Seattle’s midfield dominance, shortly on the heels of the 18-pass sequence in the bandbox of Yankee Stadium, is transcending the league. I don’t want to get things out of proportion here, but the Sounders are starting to look like tiki taka jedis. The ball movement may be square-ish and lack dynamism, but in both NYC and YVR, the Sounders camped out in the midfield and owned the ball. They kept exchanging easy pass and lulled their opponent to sleep while constantly recycling the attack and waiting for a good run. Then they struck.

Behold (and yes it’s annoying the camera cuts away here right at the key pass, missing Pappa’s assist to Barrett):

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