Seattle Sounders

Seattle Sounders Settle for Promise

Promise? We’re talking about promise?

The Seattle Sounders kept their CCL dreams alive beating Chivas 1-nil Wednesday night.

By all accounts, it was a solid win. Due to fatigue and injury, the Sounders shuffled out a motley eleven, and beat a Chivas side that brought a totally respectable (if not top-choice) lineup to the Emerald City. I never take a win over a Liga MX side for granted. And it was extra heartening to see such young players, Bwana, McCrary, Wingo, all show real promise.

However. I want to see Schmetzer trotting out promise in a gimme league game against San Jose or Minnesota. Blood the boys against chumps! I want to see Bwana “trying shit” and Wingo honing the touch on his cross in more low-stakes settings. But Chivas? You sign TAM players for these games. MLS invented the TAM line item to specifically compete with Liga MX teams and win CCL. Yet Seattle beat Santa Tecla and took a lead against Chivas with only one TAM player (Roman is still getting fit and played his first 90 minutes of 2018) Rodriguez, Leerdam, and Woolf all missed the match.

If I was the President of Soccer sitting in my Emerald Office, I’d be cursing the cruel fortune that had me trotting out a motley mix of vets and babies against an undisputed Super Club. Our lineup last week felt very MLS 1.5: one aging super star (Dempsey), one true DP (Nico), the rest a mix of promising prospects and at-or-around-replacement-level MLS vets. The terribly limited selection (we had Alex Roldan in the 18 for chrissakes!) is really the only reason we had to settle for a 1-0 win.

You read that right: Seattle “settled” for beating a Liga MX. It felt good, but let’s be real: Seattle needed a better home result. Winning away in CCL is hard, like gas station peanut brittle hard. Seattle can do it. We held Chivas without a precious road goal, so any result is a win for us. Even a loss could see us through if we get a goal. But MLS is infamous for going down to Mexico with a legitimate shot only to get blown off the pitch (sometimes I still wake up in the middle of the night shivering and mumbling Santos Laguna, two goals in the first ten minutes). Seattle must keep their cool and weather Chivas’s pride and pedigree. That’s a lot to ask from homegrown players making their second or third professional start.

Long story short: promise won’t be enough to see Seattle through to the semis. Yet Schmetzer should have Woolf available for the tilt in Guadalajara, plus Roman will be more fit. And maybe, just maybe, Rodriguez will be in the 18. If we can field some TAM players, like MLS intended, we got a real chance at knocking off a Liga MX Super Club. Our chances are, shall we say, promising?

Seattle Sounders 2018 Home Opener

Welcome to 2018 Seattle Sounders fans.

The home opener is finally here and we can wipe that nasty MLS-cup defeat from our brainpans. I am excited to whup expansion side LAFC in front of 50,000 screaming Rave Green faithful, if only because Seattle invented successful expansion (seewhatididthere?).

Yes. I still take massive pride in Seattle’s incredibly successful jump to MLS back in 2009. All that talk last year about Atlanta lapping Seattle as MLS’s darling debutante made me gag. We not only started hot, we kept blazing. To wit: Seattle has never missed the playoffs, has made the Conference Finals 4 of the last 6 years, and advanced to back-to-back MLS Cup appearances with one title (not mention all the US Open Cups and the Supporters’’ Shield).

Anyone who dares consider Chicago’s successful launch way back in baggy-jersey-skanky-mullet MLS 1.0, or the all-sizzle-no-steak Atlanta launch from last year knows nothing. Today’s matchup pits the best expansion team in MLS history against the latest.

So there is a wee bit of juice to today’s game. Chivas 2.0 (they’re even coached by Bob Bradley!) can pull a Loons and wallow in ineptitude for a while. Hey LA, come at the king, best not miss.

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Meanwhile at Starfire: The 2018 Sounders are on a mission. They’ve already kicked of the CONCACAF Champion’s League by advancing past El Salvadorian side Santa Tecla and face Mexican giant CD Guadalajara (aka Chivas) Wednesday. Seattle punched their ticket to this continental party by winning MLS Cup way back in 2016. These chances, to compete against the very best in our region, don’t come around too often.

Despite the pomp and circumstance, today’s domestic league home opener is a distraction. We just played a rougher than expected series with Tecla. We walloped them Thursday night, but all the congestion, long travel and the loss of Jordan Morris are devastating to the early goings in MLS.

Look how Toronto fared against Columbus yesterday. They too had to squeeze their MLS opener in between CCL fixtures, and they were embarrassed. TFC, allegedly with the best depth in the league, had less travel (Colorado), an easier opponent (again, Colorado) and still flopped in their MLS opener due to fatigue. Seattle hopes for a better result today, without compromising their chances Wednesday.

A very, very beatable Chivas team is coming to Sodo Wednesday night. Yes, they are one of our region’s unquestioned Super Clubs. Yes, Chivas have quality and pedigree and salary. But, they are mired in the LIGA MX cellar right now, and just fought for a home draw yesterday against archrival Club America. Chivas can’t take any league games for granted, and could very well send a b-side to Seattle.

BOLD PREDICTION: I want to beat Chivas on Wednesday way more than I care about LAFC today. For the optics and the ceremony, I hope the Sounders get a W to kick off their MLS campaign. But today’s game is not as clutch as Wednesday’s. And I think Schmetzer knows it. Seattle 1-1.

Happy New Year Seattle Sounders fans!

Happy New Year and welcome to 2018, Seattle Sounders fans!

So… 2017 kinda sucked. Which is weird to say considering the Sounders were, unquestionably, the best team in the West, and roared through the playoffs before losing the Cup to a historically dominant opponent in TFC.

However. Seattle does not want to be a fine MLS club, they want to be a world-class soccer powerhouse. I just don’t know if they got closer to the TFC benchmark over the course of last season.

In fact, Toronto miiiight be the team that is apotheosizing into a superclub (though don’t get me started on that “domestic treble” crap. The Canadian Championship is a pale imitation of the US Open Cup. Seriously wiki it.  Seriously. Five teams compete for this ersatz “Cup” thing: Ottawa, Edmonton and the 3 MLS sides. I know it’s a wee country, but c’mon, calling this a treble is kind a joke. #iamnotbitter)

Regardless of whether the Sounders continue their ascent to the North American soccer stratosphere, 2018 is upon us. We are only 6 weeks and change away from the Sounders first game of 2018, the CCL match against Santa Tecla of EL Salvador (and doing well in that tournament is the next big Goliath to slay). Casting the narratives of the 2018 Season has also already begun: a new fullback, a cheesed off Ozzie, an intriguing new villain and Preki. Oh my.

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Big new changes are afoot here at Raving Green!

Posts will be few and far between during this offseason. I won’t be quietly waiting for the CCL to kick off, but rather am developing an overhaul of the site. I can no longer pretend I’ll ever get back to publishing six posts a week, so I am overthrowing the blog completely. Stay tuned!

Lastly, Happy New Years Sounders fans!

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The 2017 Seattle Sounders Quiet Excellence

The Seattle Sounders host the Houston Dynamo Thursday for a shot to #DefendOurCup at MLS Cup 2017. Frankly, it is more than a shot. The Sounders lead the series 2-nil, with two precious away goals. This is our series to win.

Thankfully the Sounders’ winning has been a lot more consistent than my blogging. Babies, yo. It baffles me that my last ten posts date all the way back to December 10th, 2016 and my Bold Prediction for the 2016 MLS Cup. In those ten posts in almost a year, only two were long-ish form. My commitment to excellence (blog-cellence?) has wavered, but the Sounders’ hasn’t.

The 2017 season, though somewhat underwhelming for the duration, can already be considered one of Seattle’s best seasons in MLS history.

In 2017, Seattle:

  • Earned 53 points, their fourth-highest total ever
  • Finished 2nd place in the West, their third-best conference finish
  • Clinched only their 4th berth in the Western Conference Championship
  • Nearly Booked (don’t jinx it!!) their second trip to MLS Cup

Last year: the drama surrounding the #Sigiout decision, the insane collapse mid-summer, the Nico signing, Clint’s health scare, the raucous and boisterous push to make the playoffs, then the Cup Final. 2016 was a wild, wild ride.

This year: the Sounders were tediously excellent. Sure, they earned all those points and results, but they never felt like a great team, a championship-caliber team. Seattle signed solid players (Svensson, Leerdam, Rodriguez) but whiffed on making a splash with Derlis Gonzalez. Much like their unheralded, lunchpail-type coach, Brian Schmetzer, Seattle just quietly plugged away at the yeoman’s work of being a winning soccer team.

2017 wasn’t precocious 2011, beautiful 2014, or gritty 2016; it was just winning soccer. In the 18 games since Jun 21st, the Sounders only dropped 18 points for a record of 9-2-7 and a whopping 1.88 points-per-game. The Sounders enjoyed four solid months of sustained excellence, but frankly, underwhelmed.

Buuuut these last two games… Vancouver leg 2 and Houston leg 1, saw the all-caps SOUNDERS back in action. Even with injuries and constant lineup shuffling, Schmetzer had the boys singing with 4 goals scored, 0 conceded, and a joyous, jogo-bonito flair.

I’m getting excited again. The boys are rounding into form, getting healthier right in time to knock on the doors of history. Seriously, even without J-Mo and Ozzie we can punch our ticket to Toronto MLS Cup, again, where we have a real chance at repeating. This has only happened four times in MLS history. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

There is still game to be won Thursday night, and Mrs. Raving Green and I will be singing and supporting in Sodo. We didn’t attend a single playoff game last year (see: baby, new), breaking our streak since 2010, and it suuucked. It was especially bittersweet because I had my heart broke in person in the rain in 2012 and 2014. Like Dempsey, I want to be a part of a championship. Good thing I can trust Schmetzer and these Sounders to show up and do the work. Make it so, boys.

Bold Prediction: Seattle Sounders vs. New York Red Bulls

Your MLS Cup Champion Seattle Sounders finally open at home, hosting the New York Red Bulls today in Sodo.

The Sounders want to celebrate last year’s Cup win in style: a large crowd, glorious tifo and finally bagging three big points. Being at 4 after 3 is way different than 2 or, god forbid, 1 after 3. Though we learned last year that early results don’t indicate late success, it still feels weird that the Sounders have yet to “click” this season. And today’s game won’t be cake.

New York are good. Jesse Marsch coaches a smart, aggressive team that always finds goals. He has averaged 1.7 ppg in his two years at the helm in New York, and also has a Supporter’s Shield, and 2 #1 finishes in the East on his resume. Unfortunately, he also has two playoff flameouts. Though Marsch is a solid coach, he hasn’t helped the Red Bulls shed their paper tiger reputation.

The Red Bulls are, arguably, fighting the same label Seattle did for years after their elevation to the top flight: as an ambitious, big money team that wins, but never when it matters. Seattle finally shed their label with last year’s championship; New York still only has bitter memories. Unlike Seattle, who moved from Sigi to Schmetzer to get off the schneid, the Red Bulls seem cursed.

Even before Marsch, Mike Petke coached NYRB to a Supporter’s Shield and an Eastern Conference Final, but after his seasons also ended with playoff whimpers, he was unceremoniously fired. We may want to see Seattle humming at full throttle again, but we know regular season success doesn’t mean squat. At least we’ve been to the mountain top.

Bold Prediction: New York’s decorated strikers exploit raw CB Tony Alfaro for some goals, but, with Bruin starting up top, the creative interchange between Nico, Deuce and J-Mo is on. Hydra is reborn, as Seattle smashes New York 3-2 in a thriller.

No Fluke: Seattle Sounders Rock the Crown

The Seattle Sounders get a take 2 to start their MLS Cup Championship defense tomorrow in frigid Montreal.

I am glad the away locker room was quiet and frustrated in Houston last week (I hoped to get a midweek post up but, much like our boys in Rave Green, I am starting the season slow). The Sounders lost a very winnable match and seem eager to get off the schneid and start rocking the crown with swagger.

Too much smack has been talked about the Sounders this past offseason. I am seriously done of reading about their “Fluke Win.” Honestly, Portland didn’t put up with this crap. Neither did Colorado or RSL on their miracle Cup runs.

The idea that absolute minnows can win MLS Cup, the stereotype being lobbed at Seattle, is a shaky premise. Maybe it was true, once upon a time, but MLS in 2017 is not the same animal as MLS in 2007. Let’s break this down a second. For the sake of argument, let’s start the “modern era” with 2009 (we’re all Sounders fans here).

The strongest argument for the minnow-to-champs theory is that an outta-nowhere RSL, then Colorado, won in ‘09 and ‘10. And that arguably, arguably!, that feat was just repeated by Portland and Seattle.

Back when RSL and Colorado won it all, Western sides could still go through the East’s bracket, and vice-versa. This dramatically unbalanced the already chaotic playoffs (see my previous post about Western dominance in the MLS Cup Championships).

However. For the most part, one of the best teams has won MSL Cup every year. A dominant L.A. owned the seasons between 10 and 15, with an equally strong SKC knocking off RSL in the only outlier. That RSL squad that came out of nowhere in 2009? They were a young team ascending that entrenched itself among the elite.

So only the Rapids truly came outta nowhere and returned to nowhere after their Cup win (though Dallas, the squad they beat, also came out of nowhere; to be fair, Dallas has a strong culture and academy and just needed a proven coach in Oscar Pareja to harness that potential). So with RSL identified as not a fluke champion, only Portland and Seattle remain under scrutiny.

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Expect more of this

Was Portland’s Cup a fluke win? Well…. as much as I want to say yes, the Timbers have been competitive since Caleb Porter brought Soccer For Dummies to Pee Town. Though in only 2013 were they an elite team, back when Porterball was new and the rest of the league hadn’t read the Sparknotes.’15 was their Cup year and ‘14 and ‘16 were their “just under the thin red line” years.

A quick aside: For those new to the site, I am a Philadelphia Eagles fan. Back in the ol’ heyday of Andy Reid, the Eagles were a team that positioned themselves as a perennially title contender. The Birds were regular NFC champs who went deep in the playoffs year after year, but could never cash in any of that success (ask Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s. All you can rally control is your positioning for the playoffs, after that it’s a crapshoot).

Portland has positioned themselves as merely a pesk in the West. You are who your record says you are, (to quote the Big Tuna) and Portland is regularly the 6th/7th-best team in the conference, always just within spitting distance of the playoffs. That is, to be fair, a formula that works in league like MLS. Portland seems content to buy a wildcard lottery ticket every season. As long as Porter has the Timbers close to the mix every season, all they need is a double-posted PK to become a serious threat.

The Sounders, on the other hand, are like those 2000s Eagles: a team built to perennially contend. Seattle regularly finishes close to the top of the West and wins silverware. Regardless of past seasons’ failures, Seattle was always considered a major contender in the West and for the Cup.

In reality, the odds just finally regressed to the mean. Last season was a “fluke win” as much as ’14, ’11 and ’12 were “fluke losses.” In those seasons the Sounders were legit contenders who unluckily stumbled in the playoffs. I see absolutely no reason why ’17 will be any different.

The Sounders will play well. The Sounders will finish near the top of the West. The Sounders will make noise in the playoffs. Will they win it all again. Who knows. It’s always a crapshoot.

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BOLD PREDICTION: Tomorrow in Montreal, inside a dome, the Sounders will draw 2-2. Last week’s showed the defense weaknesses yet at 100%, but the Sounders can and will score. Nico and Deuce continue to work together and we’re all in for a fun ride.

2017 Seattle Sounders: Let’s Get this Party Started

Happy New Year, Seattle Sounders fans! How’s it feel to support, unquestionably, the best team in MLS?

After a short layoff, and a lightning offseason, the Champs (I looove writing that) start their title defense tonight in Houston. And frankly: the sooner the better.

Though the Sounders finally claimed MLS Cup they’ve always sought, many are not considering Seattle as the best club in MLS. The trolls are out in force and writing Seattle off as flash-in-the-pan, paper champs. As Taylor Swift so aptly put it, “Haters gonna hate. Hate. Hate. Hate. Hate.”

The Sounders have always been hated, and when the ECS sings, “No one likes us, we don’t care,” they actually mean it. This hate of the Champs is everywhere from the paid talking heads to the neckbeards at message boards from SB Nation to MLS.com to ESPN FC. Though Seattle has been a perennial contender every year of their existence, their down-year-turned-championship-season is allegedly fuel for the “MLS is a terrible parity league” argument.

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The Dawn of a New Season

Last year may have been shaky, but don’t call it a comeback. The Sounders have been here for years. When we were winning Open Cups and demanding respect like a big boy, we were laughed at. When we won the Double in ‘14 and came thisclose to MLS Cup, we were shut down as whiners.

But oh how the tune changes when Seattle is the Johnny-Come-Lately who wins it all. It is like Seattle *invented* the wildcard to winner MLS parity model. Oh, the irony.

So, yeah. I am hungry to see Dempsey join the champs. I am hungry to see a full season of Nico and Deuce. I am hungry to see Jorstian Mordan continue to develop as two of the best young players in the league. I am hungry to see Stefan Frei finally get the respect he deserves as a top keeper in the league.

I am hungry. The first championship doesn’t change anything. Sounders ‘til I Die.

And, oh yeah:

BOLD PREDICTION: Like most, I am little in the dark here. Who knows who’s gonan win this matchup? In Houston, where we’ve never won, not even with Nico late last year, and a new lineup (hello Harry Shipp and Will Bruin, goodbye Ivanschitz and Nelson) against a first year coach who’s supposed to finally unleash Cubo Torres… I’ll be wild and say: Sounders win 2-1. ‘Cause that’s Sounders do, we beat the odds.

The City Can’t Hold Us: Seattle Sounders Rally

Today the city of Seattle celebrated the MLS Cup Champion Seattle Sounders. The ECS led a Sounders parade from Westlake to Seattle Center.

In the shadow of the Space Needle, reportedly 40,000 acolytes of the Rave Green cheered at the rally. It was a dream fulfilled.

Merry Christmas, Sounders fan.

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Seattle Celebrates the MLS Champion Sounders

The Seattle Sounders are rallying downtown to Seattle Center tomorrow. Seattle is a city of champions!

The parade starts at Westlake at 11am and the rally in Seattle Center at 12:30pm! Be there to cheer on the boys in Rave Green!!

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