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Seattle Sounders Mean Mugging FC Dallas!!

Damn it feels good to be a Seattle Sounder. Western Conference Finals, here we come!!

Exactly 363 days ago, the same teams played the same game in the same stadium to the same score line. Seattle and Dallas played the second leg of the Western Conference semis in Frisco with Dallas winning 2-1 back on November 8th, 2015. Of course, with a 2-1 Seattle win in the first leg, the series went to extra time and then PKs and Dallas advanced. What a difference a year (and a 3-nil home result) makes.

Even with pulling my best Nostradamus, I was nervous during this match. I was worried we’d be the first team to blow the 3-0 lead. And it got shaky at times in the first half. Whether by design or Dallas, Ozzie and Roldan were collapsing onto our backline repeatedly for the first 45. The Hoops were running amok around the center circle and pushing the pace.

At halftime, as he has so many times under the interim tag, fresh-minted “official” head coach Brian Schmetzer made key adjustments. Ozzie and Roldan pushed their line well into midfield and held that ground. Ozzie was an absolute DESTROYER in the second half, and as our old buddy Mauro’s legs slowly remembered they’re 35 years old, the game was over. Nico had room to play taffy with a Dallas side desperate and ill-shaped, and all we needed was that one moment of brilliance. #thismoment (#thisblognotoffciallyendorsedbysounderfc)

Or rather, less brilliance than grit. Tyrone Mears just outhustled Walker Zimmerman (oh him of the hated mean mug) to Friberg’s overweighted pass. Though Zimmerman should’ve easily collected that ball, Nico, Joevin and Valdez still crashed the box. That’s hustle. That’s follow through. That’s give a damn.

Your Seattle Sounders are in the Western Conference Finals for the third time in 5 years. For the first time they won’t have to face their bugbear, the L.A. Galaxy. And, Ohhhh!, Walker Zimmerman. I’m sure your surname’s forebears will appreciate this: Danke schon für die köstlichen Schadenfreude.

I love how he impotently chases after Mears, and watches the goal before settling on a hands on head resignation. #thatmoment!!

Playoffs Becoming A Lock For the Seattle Sounders

Like tumblers in a lock, the MLS  Western Conference is falling into place for a Seattle Sounders playoff run. Teams like SKC, the Timbers and Quakes keep finding themselves on the wrong side of results. This weekend in Kansas City, Seattle can continue to improve their playoff chances.

The 2013 Sounders remember all too well the adage, “games in hand are great as long as you win them.” SKC has been learning that lesson the hard way lately. Sitting pretty on points and games played just 2 weeks ago, Peter Vermes’s side has stumbled hard. Unlike Seattle, SKC has no easy context to explain their poor run of form. The USOC has been a slight distraction, but their schedule hasn’t been too congested. They’ve had a full complement of players but can’t stop dropping points. Their midweek loss against a 10-man Houston Dynamo squad is just the most recent example.

Seattle is finally really clicking. Though the Cauldron has been a tough place for the Sounders lately, I expect all 3 points. With that result Seattle could be tied for second in the West at 48 points. L.A. plays Dallas this weekend and would join us at second with a draw. The last intriguing Western matchup is RSL-San Jose in a battle for keeping hope alive. The Sounders have, luckily, played their way past the hope stage. With a win on Sunday, they’ll be firmly in position to jockey for strong playoff bye.

Seattle Sounders Lose to The Philadelphia Union

The Seattle Sounders continued their recent slide losing 1-0 to the Philadelphia Union last night. Seattle has now lost 3 of their last 4, 3 straight in all competitions.

This loss hurts. The Union stink and even they got the better of a depleted Seattle side. Granted, the Sounders started three debutantes in Jimmy Ockford, Oneil Fisher and Aaron Kovar. Expectations weren’t high, as this was the most JV lineup Sigi’s been forced to field yet. I want to say that blooding the young’uns now will pay dividends later. I want to say that, but all I can think about is how crappy Sounders soccer has been lately.

The only bright spot was the play of Fisher. He looks like a real gamer. He was pacey and confident, and the moment wasn’t too big for him. This may seem like hyperbole, but I remember having the same thoughts when Yedlin first entered the lineup. I’m not trying to saddle Fisher with unfair expectations, but we need some of this kids to step up and surprise. Maybe Fisher can deliver.

As for the other newbs, Ockford was abused at times and Kovar has yet to really impress me. I can somewhat forgive Ockford, as he was playing with an unfamiliar CB partner in Zach Scott. But I keep waiting for Kovar to change into a player who is challenging the 18, and he always disappoints. If he wants to show Sigi he belongs, now is the time.

It’s only going to get harder. I’d have loved Seattle to have stolen some sort of result from San Jose or Philadelphia. These were the easy games. Next up is Portland. Then LA. We have to stop the bleeding, but with the Gold Cup fast approaching and Oba not miraculously healed, I don’t see how. Unless we, maybe, I don’t know, borrow Jordan Morris. Klinsy isn’t using him.

 

Seattle Sounders Check-in

The Seattle Sounders came back in the second half to down FC Dallas Saturday night 3-0.

I’m swamped this weekend and not 100% plugged in. But I am excited to head north for the USA-Nigeria game in Vancouver. I also look forward to catching up with Sounders news. Evans at CAM anyone?

It Stinks Like Rotten Meat

Maybe it’s melodramatic, but only Langston Hughes can capture my feelings right now:

What happens to a dream deferred?

      Does it dry up
      like a raisin in the sun?
      Or fester like a sore—
      And then run?
      Does it stink like rotten meat?
      Or crust and sugar over—
      like a syrupy sweet?

      Maybe it just sags
      like a heavy load.

      Or does it explode?

Hell. There’s always next year.

Three Ways of Looking at a Pitch Black Golazo

Didn’t get a rave up today folks, sorry and thanks for your patience. Here’s a quick treat to tide you over: Three Ways of Looking at a Pitch Black Golazo. In a postmodern treatment, I am presenting Ozzie’s wonder volley in three mediums of reality: the internet, cable TV and live photography.

via the internet:

link to gif

via SportsCenter:

Lastly, my view from the stands as his brothers-in-arms celebrate him:

DSC06611

The Hate Song of J. Caleb Porter

I hate and love. And if you should ask how I can do both, I couldn’t say; but I feel it, and it shivers me.

-Catullus, Poem 85

There was a lot to love in Saturday’s game: Deuce’s hat trick, Oba’s assists, Yedlin and Neagle’s hustle. There was a lot to hate: Anibaba’s defensive lapses, Azira’s turnovers and the Timbers in general. Portland’s whole ethos is pitiable and annoying, but I’m saving that post for later. Today I want to talk about Caleb Porter.

I hate Caleb Porter. Hate him. He’s the evil coach in Mighty Ducks, a cocky, intense bully. When things go well for PTFC he strolls the sidelines, hands in oversized topcoat sneering and fist pumping. He pontificates about macho crap like “brass balls,” but when the Timbers lose he whines and makes excuses.

Porter has been griping about fouls and officiating. Sigi’s upset me in the past for clowning the refs and making excuses, but I’ve never seen him complain about calls two weeks late. Refs make bad calls, teams complain, and everyone moves on. Not Porter. It takes some real narcissistic solipsism to think poor officiating or human error is new and only affects your squad.

Sigi and Porter are polar opposites and make for a fascinating dichotomy in archetypes. It is too easy to fixate on Sigi’s girth and project him as Falstaff or the Ghost of Christmas Present. In truth, he is more like Gandalf: though disarming and pleasant, you immediately respect his experience and breadth of knowledge. Sigi, like Gandalf, can be very fallible, and even silly, at times, but he is singularly powerful and a formidable opponent. Porter is Boba Fett: appearing intense and fearsome at first, but actually a dime a dozen. When in control both Porter and Fett are daunting, but both whine like a child when facing adversity. To finish the nerd-out, I think of the Golden Compass. Every coach has a player/daemon, a totem, familiar or spirit animal. Sigi has often said Brad Evans is “my guy”. Peter Vermes has Aurelien Collin. Porter has Will Johnson. Yes, Will Johnson, arguably the most hated player in the entire league (with Lenhart). Porter projects a gaming, snarking, cheap shot artist to capture the ethos and soul of the Timbers. It says a lot.

In a weird way, Porter matches the shallowest of Seattle stereotypes. He is slick and corporate, and could be at home in the city of Starbucks and Amazon. Portland prides itself on being the current capitol of funky cool, calling Seattle just another faceless big city. Too bad their soccer team has a faceless corporate-clone coach.

We struggled against the Timbers last year. At times they looked absolutely stellar, and Porter appeared the coach Portland dreamed of, innovative and clutch. But whispers of Porter’s failures simmered in the background. Though heavily favored, his team crashed out of U-23 Olympic Qualifying in 2012. Is 2014, the year he crashes out of MLS? Maybe his Argentine love affair is getting the best of him. Maybe he’s too obsessed with his system, and not the flow of the game. Maybe he is a Nick Saban or Bobby Petrino, only successful at a lower level.

The Cascadia rivalry is better when the teams do battle. But if Porter is revealed to be a loser and the Timbers go into a death spiral, I’d love it. So let’s step on their whiny throats next time. We weathered the storm. Now build a bonfire.

Big PMP’ing

I apologize for the late and short today. Busy week for me. I updated the Plus/Minus chart to reflect the Columbus loss. I also added a points column. Just like in hockey, I award a player one point per goal and assist.

The Sounders have 11 total points for the season, five goals and six assists. Obafemi Martins accounts for a whopping third of them with two assists and a goal. This, coupled with his +2, shows that Oba is integral to the team, as if you needed stats to know that. Cooper is tied with Dempsey for second with 2 points, a goal and assist each. I’d rank Cooper above Dempsey considering his team-leading plus/minus of +3. Dempsey is at 0 plus/minus, one behind the pace of the team, but he has missed the last two games.

If you take the sum of the plus/minus and points for each player, you have a good idea of the Sounder’s best contributors. Ideally, the points stat represents goal creation and plus/minus accounts for overall play, offensive and defensive actions are roughly considered. I’ll call this statistic PMP (plus/minus, points). The Sounders PMP leaderboard:

Obafemi Martins: 5

Kenny Cooper: 5

Gonzo Pineda: 3

Lamar Neagle: 3

Clint Dempsey: 2

Chad Barrett: 2

Not too surprising. With Dempsey back in the lineup at Portland, hopefully we’ll be big PMP’ing.

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