Pre Match, Round 1 vs Philadelphia Union
So filled with Rave Green, I had to take a vacation day. Still got up and did a good Uncles share today, and got my niece and nephew off to their respective schools. They were both decked in Sounders attire. Love them!
I’m taking the day to expand the March to the Match, and I’m marching Seattle. Hard Rock Cafe is first stop, and then taking it to the streets of the Rave Green City. I know, I know. This is not Europe. It is however, unarguably the soccer capital of America. That is a bit self-proclaimed, but I’m taking a role in making it true. The reality is Sounders FC are #2 today to the Huskies sweet 16 game. I’m throwing my support to that game as well, but at the same time doing my part to show that the red carpet, center stage sporting event of Seattle, and the US today is at Quest Field. This game should be as big as Monday Night Football. I’m taking Seattle today to do my part so that one day it will.
Keys to the match:
Really simple. Establish possession early in mid field. Then push Philly back into the attacking third. Find the guy whose ready to step into the match-journeymen Grocery Clerk position and stuff the ball in the back of the onion bag. An early goal tonight. First 20 minutes could open the gates.
Peter Nowak, the Philly manager, is smart and knows Sigi’s game. So the reality is, they will do everything possible to take this match goalless or drawn even at 1 apiece deep into the 75-80th minute. Which would make for an eye-catching, fingernail biting, hold on to your scarf because anything can happen finish.
So, look for the Sounders to push the attack early while Philly tries to hunker down, endure and frustrate the Sounders into a long match. This catch’em sleeping approach could be a good test for the Sounders defense. Probably the best defense in the league, but they have no idea what Philly is going to bring, or who they are going to target in their attacks.
Sounders FC 2 (Fredy and Freddie) – Philadelphia Union 1 (Sebastian Le Toux)
As the match and rain shifted into a steady constant pace, there were a few empty seats. Had the rain become the Sounders faithful first test of true support? After 30 seconds and Union’s first yellow to Danny Califf. The Union showing their true physical colors, and me in Rave Green heaven once again, I didn’t notice the crowd again until halftime. Two goals and a red card later it was halftime. Walking out for the start of the 2nd half I noticed the rain coming heavier and seats completely full. Any doubt Seattle Sounders FC‘s faithful being tested by a little wet weather in year two was put to rest.
At the March to the Match at Occidental Park in Pioneer Square, 60 minutes before the match, Major League Soccer commissioner Dan Garber declared Seattle the soccer capitol of America. How many American sports have their commissioner joining a team rally before their first game of the season? Apparently it will take much more than wind and rain to challenge Sounders faithful.
The standout Man of the Match was Brad Evans. Sigi, singled him out from his Columbus Crew championship to join Seattle in its inaugural season. Bob Bradley has also called him up for a couple caps on the US National Team. He and Fredy Montero scored in the Sounders inaugural match against the New York Red Bulls in ’09. The pair each put up a goal in the first match of 2010. Thursday was the first match I noticed what Sigi and Bradley already knew. If you placed a GPS on Evans you’d see how much field he covers. His recognition for being in the right places at the right times was as consistent as any player on the pitch. His goal seemed so relaxed and simple. Ljungberg did the workhorse move switching from right field to left, and Zakuani drove to the end line and fed a ground cross to Evans who simply fired across goal to the far post. Recognition of player and ball movement. Knowing his role during the flow of game almost made him appear to be a player eventually wearing the captains arm band.
Let it be noted that Ljungberg’s poise, Alonso’s everything everywhere, and the defense, oh the fantastic defense all did their part. Scanning other MLS games this weekend, the Sounders looked as good as any team out there. Round 2 vs New York Red Bulls should be a taste of the full season to come.