From Frisco With Depth – Sounders at FC Dallas

9 05 2012

Three up, three down.  What’s next?  Wednesday in Frisco, Texas with FC Dallas.

Sounders successfully march on to challenging May schedule – March to the Match vs Philadelphia Union 5/5/12 – Photo by © Paul Kahl

The last time Sounders traveled to FC Dallas Stadium, they were facing eight matches in August.  The most challenging portion of their 2011 schedule. How did they do?  Sounders went 7-W, 0-L, 1-D.  Including a rare Champions League win in Mexico.  Only the second MLS squad to succeed in Mexico.  The only other is FC Dallas, who did it one week before Sounders FC.

The Champions League win was followed by a 1-nil win over FC Dallas.  Zach Scott took on growing US Men’s National Team star, and FC Dallas playmaker Brek Shea.  Scott was impressive in shutting down the rising US star.

Currently In the middle of their first scheduling challenge of 2012 the Sounders are rising to the occasion.  They are turning into a club with a well oiled baseball like player and lineup rotation.  And a skipper with a nose for who needs to be on the pitch.  If you accurately predict the Sounders starting XI for Wednesday, buy a lottery ticket.

The Sounders baseball like player rotations and lineup changes have produced three wins in a stretch of five matches over 15 days.  Sounders Coach, Sigi Schmid continues to show his Lou Piniella like sharpness with his defensive rotation.  About his defenders, Sigi said, “I think we’ve got seven starters.  Any of those seven, we don’t miss a beat in the back”.

Seattle is undefeated in its last five matches.  Winning four in a row.  MLSSoccer.com took note of the Sounders recent success in their current power rankings. There is not much to glean from power rankings while you are in the midst of a tight regular season schedule.  That said, they make for fun talking points.  If you’re winning, then you’re climbing the ladder.  While the teams you defeat, like the LA Galaxy fall.  Which is kind of fun to watch.

Early success can be completely forgotten by the time the Sounders hit the showers after Real Salt Lake on Saturday.  The Sounders are 6-W, 1-L, 1-D and 19 points on the season.  (3 pts = Win, 1pt = Draw)  In the West, they are third behind San Jose Earthquakes and Real Salt Lake.  Both with 22 points.  Sounders have played two fewer matches than San Jose, and one fewer than Salt Lake.  If they enter the Century Link locker room on Saturday after facing a second loss in 4 days, momentum and power ranking talking-points will reverse against them.  That is the downside of any short-term success in a compact schedule.

It’s not one position, or one tactical grouping of players going through rotations. It’s the entire squad.  Sounders starting Keeper, Michael Gspurning left after the first half of the LA Galaxy match last Wednesday.  Brian Meredith stepped in to finish the shutout win.  Meredith got the start last Saturday against the Philadelphia Union. Earning his first win and complete game shutout.

Some rotation decisions are tactical, and some like Meredith coming in for Gspurning are for injury.  Meredith is likely to finish the May schedule for Gspurning.

As the Sounders continue to roll through their tight May baseball schedule, they continue to roll through their rotation.  The brightest star for the club is perhaps the depth of their bench.  If the entire club continues to buy into shared minutes throughout the full season, there could be a healthy reward at the finish.

Pre-match Warm up vs Philadelphia Union 5/5/12 - Photo by © Paul Kahl

Please welcome Paul Kahl to Sales on Sounders for his photography contributions.

© 2012 Sales on Sounders by Ryan J Sales





Baseball Payback – DC United at Sounders FC

17 09 2011

DC United - Black and Red - MLS Champions '96, '97, '99, '04

Payback!

This is a payback match for Sounders FC.

Important playoff positioning is at stake, but players don’t always have that on their minds against teams they owe some payback to.

On May 4th, Sounders sojourned to the nation’s capitol and came away rejected as a proposal for finance reform.  Losing 2-1 to DC United.  A disappointing effort.  A match where no less than a draw seemed certain.  With playoff fever circling their heads, this becomes Sounders FC payback day.

Think baseball.

A playoff contender approaches their schedule broken up into “season series”, rather than each game.  The more series you win, the more likely your chances of playing playoff ball in October.  At worst, teams hope to split season series and stay at or above .500.  At .500 in baseball you always feel like a season has been a successful effort, and your prospects for playoff contention next season seem only a trade or two away.

Same for Major League Soccer.  We just don’t say it enough.

One man does.  Sigi Shmid.

There are 6 points for a season series.  Three for a win at home, and three for a win on the road.  Come away with two points, and it means you drew both matches.  In soccer with 1-point for a draw and 3-points for a win, drawing both matches is actually below .500.  You are better to win one and lose one than draw both.  (3-points for splitting a season series.  2-points for drawing both matches)

DC United took the first match picking up three points at home.  Win or draw, they win the season series.  Sounders win, and they go .500 for the season series.  More importantly, it tightens their grip on a playoff spot.

The Sounders have fared well in most of their season series during their 2011 Major League Soccer schedule.  They have only lost two season series, while splitting three others.  LA Galaxy and Houston are the only two clubs to take season series from Seattle.  Red Bulls, FC Dallas, and Real Salt Lake all won once, but Seattle took one back from each, splitting those series.

A glance at teams the Sounders have lost to once in 2011.
To date no team has taken both matches from Sounders FC.

LA Galaxy:  Lose, Draw
Houston Dynamo:  Lose, Draw
New York Red Bulls:  Split
FC Dallas:  Split
Real Salt Lake:  Split
DC United:  Lost in DC, ? (To Be Determined)

Seattle Sketcher, Gabi Campanario

Sales on Sounders by Gabi Campanario - 8/5/09 at Barcelona Friendly

The Sounders played to an exhilarating mid-week CONCACAF Champions League win over Herediano.  Exhaustion could play against them.  On DC’s side they lost star Chris Pontius to an unfortunate season ending injury. Suffering a broken leg in their match last weekend.  Something Sounders FC are all too familiar and empathetic for. His injury will challenge DC United. Nonetheless, they arrive to Seattle with confidence and momentum.  Dwayne De Rosario, since being traded from New York has been a great spark and their playoff chances have increased with him.

Chris Pontius scored the first Major League Soccer hat-trick in Seattle during their 3-2 win last year.  Since Seattle’s 2009 inaugural season, DC United have been one of Seattle’s toughest home opponents.  They drew Seattle 3-3 in 2009, and on the strength of Pontius’s hat-trick last year, won 3-2.  Chris Pontius has scored 4 goals in Seattle.

Payback and playoffs.

Sounders FC will put exhaustion aside for a chance at payback.  DC United will put a tough injury behind then, knowing this is a match to keep them in the playoffs.  Whose mustard is hotter?

Today’s match in Seattle is what every sports fan wants. Both teams have purpose.  Both teams have likable character.  Both teams have their eyes on post season play.

© 2011 Sales on Sounders by Ryan Sales





Salty, Peanutty, Chocolatey – Sounders CONCACAF Dessert vs Herediano

14 09 2011
CONCACAF Champions League

Club Sport Herediano, PrimeraDivisión, Costa Rica

Being a sports fan has its moments of dessert like bliss.  Chocolatey chunks, crunchy bits of salty, peanutty delight, swirled in a sweet cream of lush vanilla bliss. Yes, that good. That is the Sounders in the thick of their third season.

US Open Cup trophies in the Sounders first two seasons have turned domestic success into international delight.  Both cup titles opened the door for Champions League Group Stage matches in the Sounders second and now third seasons. Last year the Sounders left something to be desired.  Finishing with 1-win and 5-losses in Champions League Group Stage.

Two highlights stick out from the Sounders’ 2010 Champions League campaign.  Mike Fucito’s two goal performance, and breathtaking free kick against CD Marathon was arguably the sweetest highlight.  While barely a pat-on-the-back for a near-win in Mexico to eventual CONCACAF Champion, Monterrey was the only other

August 16th – August 23rd.  A week Sounders will want to highlight in their history books.  Comunicaciones, from Guatemala visited Seattle on August 16th and were ushered back home with a 4-1 trouncing.  Seattle headed South, stopping square in the heat of Texas.  A state they had yet to find their step.  Saturday, August 20th, they knocked Dallas out of second place with a slim but well-earned 1-nil win. Sounders finally got their groove in Texas.  Then turned and headed further South to Monterrey, Mexico.  A country US clubs had no previous success.  FC Dallas finally became the first MLS team to celebrate on Mexican soil defeating Pumas, just one week earlier.  No sooner had word traveled to the Sounders camp, and they too tasted success by defeating their 2010 CONCACAF Group Stage foe, and Champions League winner, Monterrey, on August 23rd.

It’s remarkable that the Sounders have achieved this level of competition before completing their third year of Major League Soccer.  Champions League, mixed with Major League Soccer regular season, and US Open Cup matches make for crowded scheduling.  With two wins the Sounders have already doubled their 2010 Champions League win total.

Seattle Sketcher, Gabi Campanario

Sales on Sounders by Gabi Campanario - 8/5/09 @ Barca Friendly

The Sounders go into Wednesday’s match at the top of their group.  Four matches to go, and everything to play for in terms of international significance.  The top two teams in each group advance to the Quarterfinals.

Last weekend’s wakeup call loss to Real Salt Lake reminds sports-fans how quickly teams rise and fall from the top. The Everest like ascent the Sounders pulled off in August, undefeated with seven wins and one draw, was quickly tempered with a 2-1 home loss to the men from Salt Lake City.

The short turn around in preparation time for Wednesday’s match in Costa Rica, against Club Sport Herediano, usually makes bruises feel more swollen.  But short-term memory loss in sports sometimes offers sweet reprise from dwelling on frustration.  A draw with Herdiano, or pleasant win would quickly boost the Sounders momentum.  Both for payback with next Saturday’s MLS foe, DC United, and to give a strong finish in regular season standings heading into November’s playoffs.

The Sounders suffered a dismal road loss to DC United, 2-1 in May.  Payback would even the season series and place the Sounders in the driver’s seat for second place in Major League Soccer heading towards season ending playoff positioning.  A home win over DC United could also clinch a playoff spot for the Sounders third consecutive year.

Club Sport Herediano, PrimeraDivisión, Costa Rica face Sounders FC at 7:00 PST on Fox Soccer Channel.

 

© 2011 Sales on Sounders by Ryan Sales

 





Threshold of a Dynasty – US Open Cup Semi Final – FC Dallas vs Sounders FC

30 08 2011

US Open Cup - Sounders FC 2009, 2010 Champions

The Sounders have not completed three seasons as a modern-era, Major League Soccer version of their thirty-seven year old franchise, yet they stand on the doorway of a dynasty. Defeating FC Dallas on Tuesday, places them one step closer to making that dream become reality.

A perfect way for the US Open Cup to attract more attention is for a team to turn a successful legacy into a historic dynasty. Tuesday at Starfire Sports Complex, in Tukwila, Washington, Sounders FC host FC Dallas for their fifth consecutive US Open Cup Semi-Final. A win puts them into the US Open Cup Final for the third consecutive year. Winning the final would firmly secure their place in US Soccer history.

Ninety-six years of history. The US Open Cup is barely a blip on the US Sports map. The Sounders are helping to change that. The US Open Cup winner earns a valuable shot at Champions League. Both FC Dallas and Seattle became the first US teams to defeat Mexican clubs on their home soil.  FC Dallas defeated Pumas 1-nil on August 17th. While Sounders FC traveled to Monterrey, winning by the same 1-nil score on August 23rd.  The two prestigious victories combined with Real Salt Lake reaching the CONCACAF Champions League Final last year, means Champions League stock is rising for MLS clubs. The US Open Cup should also rise in value as winning it earns no less than a play-in opportunity for Champions League.  The Sounders have made that a successful route to accomplishing their clubs highly valued goal of winning the CONCACAF Champions League.  They have made Champions League two consecutive years via the US Open Cup Champion play-in designation.

This will be the third time FC Dallas and Sounders FC meet this year.  Seattle lost on May 25th.  A tough 1-nil loss at home.  Dallas scored first and held off Seattle’s relentless pressure the rest of the way.  Sounders FC turned the table on FC Dallas, winning 1-nil in Texas on August 20th.  Both home teams deserved a result, but both stole a road victory surviving the others relentless attack.  The recent win by Sounders FC, in Frisco, Texas vaulted them into second place in the Western Conference behind the LA Galaxy.

Chicago Fire have won the US Open Cup four times, with Seattle winning the past two.  A win this year and Sounders FC becomes the first MLS team to win three consecutive, as well as first to accomplish the feat modern-era professional club since the New York Greek-American from 1967-69.  The US Open Cup is filled with a rich tradition and diverse mix of teams.  It is some of the most culturally rich and exciting sporting history in the US.  Only not as sexy as its pass and run football relative, or basketball.  A win for the Sounders over FC Dallas may be a win for the US Open Cup.  Both teams deserve a shot at the final.  But one could turn a dynasty into a selfless act of sporting good-will for a tournament long overdue for a high-profile sporting champion. 

*Please visit and support thecup.us 

© 2011 Sales on Sounders by Ryan Sales





Can the Sounders win EVERYTHING? – Columbus Crew vs Seattle Sounders FC

27 08 2011

Seattle Sounders FC host Columbus Crew tomorrow on the X-Box pitch at CenturyLink Field, at 1:00 pm (PST)

* Be sure to take the Poll at the bottom of this post.  Add your comments about how you feel the Sounders will finish this year and what, if any hardware they will add to their trophy case.

Columbus Crew - 2008 MLS Cup Champions

Columbus Crew leading the Eastern Conference and Seattle Sounders FC second in the Western Conference? Considering most people picked talent heavy, New York Red Bulls as clear Eastern Conference champions, along with Steve Zakuani’s broken leg occurring early in Seattle’s season, most thoughts of Columbus and Seattle being significant playoff contenders seemed highly unlikely.

Here we are, eight matches to go and arguably the two hottest MLS teams square off in one of this weekends more compelling matches with significant playoff positioning at stake.

Last Saturday, Columbus defeated Philadelphia 2-1 at Crew Stadium to go four points clear at the top of the Eastern Conference. The same day, Seattle traveled to 106-degree Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas and defeated FC Dallas for sole possession of second place in the Western Conference. It was Seattle’s first win in Texas.

Seattle scores and Columbus defends. At 36 goals, Seattle is among the top five MLS clubs in scoring. A remarkable turnaround from an early season lack of goals. Defensively, Columbus is tied for third in the league at 24 for fewest goals allowed. That said, both clubs are well-balanced at both ends.  Columbus has excellent attacking forwards, like US International, Robbie Rogers, Emilio Renteria, and Andres Mendoza. Seattle’s defense went through a July stretch of letting in a few more goals than Keller prefers. In their last three matches, Seattle has only allowed one goal and recorded two shutouts.

Since Sigi Schmid left Columbus in 2008 the Crew have yet to defeat the Sounders. Sigi won the 2008 MLS Cup with the Columbus Crew. Sounders FC lured him to Seattle for their inaugural 2009 season. In this, his third season, he was awarded a four-year contract extension through the 2015 season. In MLS regular season play the Crew’s record against Seattle is 0-wins, 2-losses, and 3-draws.  They also lost to Seattle last year in the US Open Cup final.

US Open Cup - Sounders FC 2009, 2010 Champions

Last season featured two significant matches that give the Crew strong desire for pay-back. The first, in September, a 4-nil drubbing in Columbus. Including Sounders FC’s first hat-trick from Blaise Nkufo. The second was a 2-1 US Open Cup final loss at Qwest Field. Seattle’s second consecutive US Open Cup title.

Columbus wants to change the trend.  Both Seattle’s regular season wins were in Columbus. While both the Crew’s trips to Seattle ended in 1-1 draws.

What three points would do.  A win and the Crew would likely put insurmountable distance over Eastern Conference favorites New York Red Bulls.  Significant, since the Red Bulls were preseason favorites to win the Eastern Conference, and the MLS Cup.  With a Seattle win, the Sounders would march three points closer to LA, for top spot in the Western Conference.  Further securing their second place spot.  Seattle trails LA by six points for the top spot in MLS.

Enjoying the possibilities.  When I started this site, it was to follow the Sounders rise through Major League Soccer to become one of the world’s most successful soccer clubs.  The Sounders are making greater strides towards that goal in their third season than I imagined.  This coming Tuesday, August 30th, they face FC Dallas in a US Open Cup semi-final.  A win sends Sounders FC to a third consecutive final.  In regular season MLS standings, Seattle sits second in the league.  Meaning playoff positioning is more favorable than the first two seasons.  It also means they trail LA by six points for the Supporters Shield.  The Supporters Shield goes to the MLS club with the highest points total at the end of the season.  (win = 3 pts, draw = 1 pt)  It would be a surprise to pass LA, but the possibility is real. After two CONCACAF matches the Sounders have already doubled their effort from last year. They now lead their Champions League Group D with 2-wins (6 points).  The top top teams from each group goes to the CONCACAF Quarter-Finals.  (4 Groups with 4 teams in each)

Nothing accomplished. No victory celebrations to report, yet. The Sounders are one of only two teams in Major League Soccer competing as legitimate contenders in three competitions.  MLS, US Open Cup, and CONCACAF.  The other team is FC Dallas. Matches like this one against the Columbus Crew show how competitive the Sounders have become.  Every match feels like it’s 106-degrees in Frisco, Texas. The intensity from heated pressure of each match also brings cool fresh hope.  The blue sky is the limit for the Rave Green.  I have no idea how many chances I will have to ask this question with hopeful pride.  So here goes.  Is this the year Sounders win Everything?

* Scroll over the “Share” button below this page to share on Facebook, Twitter, & others.  Feel free to “like” or +1 if you use Google.  Thank you for supporting and reading, Sales on Sounders.  Your comments are greatly appreciated.  

© 2011 Sales on Sounders by Ryan Sales





Brek, Mexico and Sitting Solo in Second Position – FC Dallas vs Sounders FC

23 08 2011

This post is more than 48 hours late. No doubt about that. Considering the tardy arrival, you may feel inclined to slip down to the Post Match portion. Your inclination would be very wrong.  Very, very wrong.  You would miss the beautiful simplicity from my, albeit completely late, Prematch comments.  You would feel like you had cheated.  Like you were suddenly a teenager again, caught shoplifting, completely missing all my post match thoughts, and your cheating ways, although innocent enough in intent, would slowly build a lonely unfulfilled emotion inside you.  “What if I had only read Sales on Sounders prematch comments first”.  The voice inside your head would say over and over and over.  The choice is yours.  Free will is a wonderful thing.  But starting at the beginning may bring you a more sweetened peace of mind than you could ever imagine.

Prematch vs FC Dallas

Seattle Sketcher, Gabi Campanario

Sales on Sounders by Gabi Campanario - 8/5/09 @ Barca Friendly

Saturday is the Texas Two Step, from Frisco.  Sounders FC have never won in Texas.  Nothing from Houston Dynamo and nothing from FC Dallas. Sounders travel to FC Dallas’s home pitch at Pizza Hut Park. The winner takes sole possession of second place in the Western Conference, and the overall MLS standings. LA Galaxy leads the way. Playoff positioning is at stake.

Sounders also want a little pay-back for losing 1-nil to FC Dallas in their first meeting at home on May 25th

On Wednesday, August 17th, FC Dallas made history. They became the first MLS squad to celebrate a win in Mexico. Defeating Pumas UNAM, Mexican Primera División Champions 1-nil. A great win to start their 2011 CONCACAF Group Stage. The mid-week match may have left them tired, but the glorious victory will surely open their confidence up to full sail ahead.

On Tuesday, August 16th, Sounders FC had its most successful CONCACAF win to date. A 4-1 win over Comunicaciones of Guatemala.

Both sides meet Saturday with hopes of securing second place in the Western Conference, and overall playoff standings in MLS.  With LA signing Robbie Keane, last week, an irish international striker. It seems unlikely any team will stop LA from reaching their goal of ending the season atop the MLS table and earning the Supporters Shield.  Any remote chance of catching LA, will likely come from the team that wins Saturday in Frisco, Texas.

One player stands above all as the most likely difference maker in Saturday’s showdown.

Soccer often takes itself too seriously. Media, like Twitter, has become a good source for finding the lighter side of soccer. MLS.com features a podcast airing twice a week that balances soccer’s intensity with joyful humor. Extra Time Radio airs Monday to review the weekends results and events. It airs again on Thursday to review any mid-week matches, while looking to the weekends match-ups ahead. Greg Lalas, one member of ETR”s quartet of MLS.com’s writers and media personalities, recently made the point that Brek Shea is not a good name for soccer stardom. It may be a little early to place the full weight of that stigma on Brek Shea, but his development suggests there is good reason for us to be excited about what he could become for the US Men’s National Team.

Messi, Rooney, and Xavi derive unfair comparison when thinking of single name soccer stars. Dempsey is the closest we have in US Soccer. Even Landon Donovan who is the most successful US soccer star has not caught on as a single name. Lalas proposed, “Brek”. Time will tell.  For now, Brek is the primary challenge Seattle will have to mitigate if they want to win. Heat is the other serious obstacle the Sounders will face in order to come out of Texas victorious, and sitting solo in second position.

With LA Galaxy signing Robby Keane this week, it seems unlikely any team will stop them from reaching their MLS championship goal. Two teams from the West that would like to at least have that chance are FC Dallas and Sounders FC.

Post Match

Hoops

Nicknames; Hoops, Red Stripes, Toros, Burn, The Branders, Dallas 96

Sitting in second after winning in Texas, the Sounders are only two-steps from LA. “if we want to make a run in the playoffs, you know we’re going to have to win games like this”. Keller, after the Sounders first win in Texas.

It all came down to the fifteenth minute.  Lamar Neagle received the ball near midfield, along the left sideline.  He rolls the ball forward on a slow dribble, while Montero makes a run up the middle.  Lamar’s pass avoids an FC Dallas interception finding Fredy Montero, who slides the ball past the last FC Dallas defender. Mauro Rosales runs into the penalty box, timing a one touch strike inside the near post.  Sounders lead 1-nil and all looks good.

Finally, Texas is defeated. The Sounders went on to win by the same 1-nil score. Not a pretty win. It was survival and sweat. Dallas threw everything. They even went down a man and still managed to outplay the Sounders with 10 men.

With the early goal, Seattle gave a little pay-back to FC Dallas for what Dallas did in Seattle on May 25th.  A 1-nil win in Seattle. Brek scored in the 18th minute.  FC Dallas bunkered in behind the ball.  Rarely venturing forward the rest of the match.  Seattle attacked again and again, but FC Dallas held the Alamo and stole a defensive victory. Seattle were the better squad but were not rewarded for their efforts. Carbon copy in Frisco.  Seattle took an early lead, then held on by the skin of their teeth until the final whistle.

Daniel Cruz was shown a third-minute yellow card for a reckless tackle.  Then in the 56th minute the referee thought he was simulating a fall to earn a free kick. The referee made a surprising call against Cruz, showing him a second yellow card.  Dallas played a man down the rest of the match.  You would not have known.  106 degrees hot and a sweltering attack, Dallas never gave up, and were it not for a heroic save by Keller at the death, Dallas looked poised to come back and earn a draw.

For Keller, this was his eighth shutout of the season.

The referee helped Seattle.  Twenty-two fouls against Seattle and nineteen against Dallas.  Forty-one fouls, each giving Sounders players a chance to catch their breath and drink water.  Those little pauses helped Seattle survive 106 degrees of Texas heat and equal amount of sweltering pressure from their attack.

Keller always manages to have the right words to put the perfect perspective on a match. “Maybe they should’ve won here and we definitely should’ve beat them there”.

Happily, Sounders take advantage of the win and climb into sole possession of second place.  Six points behind LA Galaxy seems a bit lofty to think the Sounders could catch them for first place in the remaining eight matches. But pulling out playoff like survival wins are what champions are made of. This is the first time I’ve felt Sounders showed that type of playoff like poise. Even more impressive it was on the road.

 

Credits:  Kasey Keller comments from post match interviews on Sounders FC.com

© 2011 Sales on Sounders by Ryan Sales





Rave Green Chili Peppers – Chivas USA at Sounders FC

13 08 2011
Seattle Sketcher, Gabi Campanario

Sales on Sounders by Gabi Campanario - 8/5/09 @ Barca Friendly

Panama heat, Houston heat, Kansas heat, even CONCACAF Referee heat.  A quartet of chili pepper challenges behind them, Sounders came out looking pretty cool. Two wins and two losses.  For their brave efforts, splitting the peppers found the Sounders continuing to climb the Scoville scale of Major League Soccer.  What can they get from goats this week?

Defeating San Francisco FC of Panama, qualified Sounders for Group stages in CONCACAF Champions League.  Two stoppage time goals last weekend against Sporting Kansas City and the Sounders became the first MLS franchise to win at new Livestrong Sporting Park.  The win placed Seattle one point behind Dallas for third in the west, at 41 points on the season.

Both Sounders goals came in stoppage time.  The second nearly at the death.  Mauro Rosales played a full 120 minutes last Wednesday in the 2-nil CONCACAF defeat of San Francisco FC.  So, it was nothing short of amazing to watch him carve the ball away from two defenders after another full 90 minutes against Sporting Kansas City. With more workman than flash-like moves, Rosales used a calm sense of poise to drag the ball away from two Sporting defenders.  Then pass the ball past their Keeper, Jimmy Nielsen for an equalizing goal. The Sounders would have been content with that tying goal for a draw. Moments later they pushed forward again.  Mauro Rosales passed the ball from the top of the box to the left of goal, where Lamar Neagle met the ball one time with his right foot, skirting the ball past two defenders, and into the net of a heartbroken Jimmy Nielsen for the winning goal.

Sounders FC are building a scary reputation for being road warrior streak busters.  The 2-1 win at Sporting Kansas City’s, Livestrong Sporting Park was their third such feat. In 2009 Seattle ended Columbus Crew’s undefeated streak at 22-games.  In May of this year, Sounders went to Real Salt Lakes’s fortress, Rio Tinto and stopped their undefeated streak at 29-games. The win at Livestrong stopped Sporting’s 14-game undefeated streak.

It wasn’t the first time Kansas City have played Sounders FC matches expecting to get something, only to come away empty-handed and disappointed.  With the win, Seattle picks up their third stoppage time win over Kansas City.  Last year at Qwest Field there was the famous  Fucito Finish.  The stoppage time goal from Mike Fucito to grab a 1-nil win. Then, on May 21st, Jeff Parke made it “lightning strikes twice” and headed in a second stoppage time winner.  Coach, Sigi Schmid, felt this third such victory was justified pay-back.  “They were the first team to beat us at Qwest, and we’re now the first team to beat them at Livestrong”.

I think it is safe to say Sporting Kansas City will be perfectly happy to not see the Sounders again until next year.

Here come the Goats!!!

Club Deportivo Chivas USA - Founded 2004

At 7-wins, 8-losses, and 8-draws, Club Deportivo Chivas USA comes to CenturyLink a more dangerous attacking team than their record shows. With 29-points from 23-matches, they are sitting sixth in the Western Conference.  Right now, that is good enough for the 10th and final MLS Playoff spot.

Strong in attack.  Chivas have scored 30 goals over 23 matches.  It is their defense that needs work. The Sounders defense are not entirely different. They have also given up more goals than Kasey Keller would like in his final season. Unless either defense becomes stingy it could be an exciting, high-scoring 3-2 match.

The Sounders have developed a knack for dramatic finishes this season.  Especially at home.  Their confidence for always finding a way to win matches will favor Sounders FC against Chivas USA. Beyond that, grab a coin and flip for a winner.

If that seems dismissive of the Sounders better results and record reflecting their effort.  I assure you it is not.  The Sounders have demonstrated they have a club poise and quality for winning.  No team possesses a flare for outrageous winning like Sounders FC.  With 210 minutes played in the last two matches, resulting in two wins, including one in overtime and the other in stoppage time, their team chemistry and determination are among the best in MLS currently.

Seattle’s success goes beyond the intangibles of team chemistry and is in no small part due to their developing talents.  No one in MLS tackles better, and disrupts opposing midfield play more than Sounders’ Osvaldo Alonso.  Mauro Rosales is playing like he belongs on an MLS starting XI.  Add to that the dynamic in-form play of Alvaro Fernandez, along with Fredy Montero, and Seattle’s midfield and front attack is something to fear.  On the other end of the field, a few too many defensive miscues have demonstrated Sounders back line cohesion needs to improve to make a significant playoff run.

Chivas plays a high attacking line, exposing defenses to fast breaks.  They will attempt to run fast and often at Seattle’s defense to keep them unsettled.  They show good attacking form with their passing, possession and forward movement from players off the ball.  This does leave their defense exposed.  But allowing a couple of goals is something they are not afraid to risk in order to create a winning goal in a high scoring affair.

Where Chivas lacks some of the Sounders cohesiveness, they are not short of youthful talent.  With a great mix of strength and speed, which is starting to come together, Chivas are looking more dangerous all the time.

Midfielder, Nick LaBrocca along with forwards, Justin Braun and Alejandro Moreno will put pressure on Seattle’s back line.  If Seattle uses their few extra days rest and preparation this week, they should be able to use passing and possession to counter Chivas strength and speed in going forward.

One thing 36,000 fans do for opposing teams when they come to Seattle is make them want to bring out their best.  Chivas would like to prove they belong in the MLS Playoff-Ten.  With four teams on their heels, taking all three points in Seattle would help strengthen their playoff position and add confidence to their push towards the end of season.

Playoff positioning is equally important to Seattle, who would like to keep pressure on Dallas and LA.  The chase for second place in the Western Conference heats up next week in Frisco, Texas as Seattle and Dallas face-off at Pizza Hut Park.  Trailing LA by 7-points for top spot in MLS and Supporters Shield may prove too tall a hill to climb, but winning never hurts your chances.  Any slip from LA, and another late season winning run from Seattle could leap them into Major League Soccer’s top spot.

© 2011 Sales on Sounders – by Ryan Sales





US Open Cup Quarterfinal – LA Galaxy at Sounders FC – Bruce Arena, no excuses for Revenge

13 07 2011
Seattle Sketcher, Gabi Campanario

Sales on Sounders by Gabi Campanario - 8/5/09 @ Barca Friendly

Sometimes when your team is in form, like the Sounders current eight game undefeated streak, it seems like everything in the world of soccer is about your team.  As the Women’s World Cup heats up, so does the US Open Cup.  As the Women pursue a third World Cup title.  The Sounders pursue a third consecutive US Open Cup.  Can both succeed?  If everything in the world of soccer is Sounders, then the answer is absolutely!

First, there was Sunday, July 10th when the US Women’s National Team came back to defeat Brazil in penalty kicks.  Immediately after, Sounders FC came back to defeat the Timbers.  Coincidentally, on a penalty kick.

Then today, Wednesday, July 13th the US Women’s National Team defeat France 3-1 in the World Cup Semifinals and move one step away from hoisting their third Women’s World Cup trophy.

Tonight, across the Atlantic, on s small field in Tukwilla, Washington, Sounders FC play their Quarter-Final US Open Cup match against the LA Galaxy.  A rematch of last years 2-nil Sounders win.  A win earns a trip to the Semifinal vs FC Dallas for a chance to hoist a third consecutive US Open Cup.

Maybe the great play of the US Women in Germany will send soccer waves all the way to the Sounders in Seattle?  Maybe it’s coincidence?  You decide.

US Open Cup - Sounders FC Defending '09 & '10 Champions

Some Major League Soccer teams question the value of the US Open Cup.  Seattle Sounders FC make it a priority. The Cup winner gains the opportunity to play in the CONCACAF Champions League.  A tournament gaining international recognition.  LA Galaxy and New York Red Bulls are two teams that have questioned the value of US Open Cup.  Chicago, Columbus, and FC Dallas join Seattle in taking the US Open Cup seriously.  Scheduling and lineup choices are challenges, but what league around the world doesn’t face those same challenges in important tournaments other than their league?  The weak effort and hasty excuses from some MLS squads are showing leaks.

Tonight pits Major League Soccer’s league leading, and star-powered LA Galaxy against two-time defending US Open Cup Champion, Seattle Sounders FC.  Both clubs have high stake reasons to win.  No excuses.

No excuses for watered down lineups.  LA Galaxy play a Saturday friendly against Real Madrid.  While Sounders FC play an intense weekend regular season match against Major League Soccer defending Champion, Colorado Rapids at home.  Sounders coach, Sigi Schnid has the tougher schedule, but will play to pursue a third consecutive US Open Cup title.

Bruce Arena and LA have dominated Seattle with 5-wins and 1-draw in MLS regular season and playoff competition the last two years.  His only loss to rival coach, Sigi Schmid and the Sounders came last July in the US Open Cup.  Bruce Arena will be seeking revenge for the 2-nil loss.  He has no excuses for doing anything other than fielding a high-powered revenge seeking lineup.  Sigi Schmid has the tougher job of navigating lineup decisions to have players healthy and ready for both matches.

“. . . to me these games don’t make sense”.
“Essentially, it was a reserve game tonight.  I think the timing of this competition isn’t right for MLS teams”.
” . . . the competition is watered down due to the fact that each team is juggling players”.

Bruce Arena’s comments, July 2010 after losing 2-nil to Sounders in a US Open Cup Semifinal.

Bruce Arena also made comments about the Starfire field and facility.  He may have a point in questioning the Sounder’s Front Office insistence in using the small practice pitch, but he won’t have to worry about lineup juggling or MLS scheduling.  The only watered down issue he may have to deal with is his teams preparation for the short, fast, Northwest pitch.

Follow me tonight on Twitter.  @SalesonSounders also @USOpenCup.  Watch the match live, here.  Also visit the US Open Cup site TheCup.us.

Thanks and support to Josh Hakala and ALL involved with and working for TheCup.us.

© 2011 Sales on Sounders by Ryan Sales





A Thursday Night Frisco Affair

22 04 2010

Round 5 vs FC Da llas

Sounder 'til I die

Before 2005 FC Dallas were the Dallas Burn.  Their home is Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas.  Welcome back to Sales on Sounders for a rare mid-week work night clash of the Red Stripes and Rave Green.  The player to watch on Dallas is Jeff Cunningham.  He is probably the most likely player in MLS to score two goals a game.  The Sounders did a fantastic job keeping him under wraps last year.  That will be crucial again in this match.  Surprisingly, he has struggled at the start of this season.  Meaning he’s over due.  He tallied 17 goals in 2009, and has over 120 in his MLS career.  He’s still an outside consideration for Bob Bradley’s US World Cup squad in South Africa this summer.  However the Galaxy’s Edson Buddle is building a strong case for his consideration.  Either way, Sounders defenders will have their hands full.  Cunningham is a striker with that rare talent for consistently finding the back of net.  Another player to target is Atiba Harris.  Harris scored at X-Box pitch last year.  FC Dallas is good at putting on an offensive show.  But their defense struggles at times.  They are more likely to give up a couple of goals and win 3-2 than pull out a 92nd minute Fucito Finish.  This is a mid-week showcase match, so expect to see Dallas a steal of the Sounders limelight.

Keys to the Match

Hoops

Nicknames; Hoops, Red Stripes, Toros, Burn, The Branders, Dallas 96

Without Nate Jaqua, or any tall target up front, Seattle will have to create chances built from possession.  The best defense on the road is pass possession moving the ball deep into the attacking third of the opponents half.  The simple wrap on Dallas is that they have a team that likes to score.  If they get in a groove they are as likely an MLS team to knock in 3 or 4.  If frustrated, slowed, pressed, and challenged hard, they will cave.  They can be exposed, and if the Sounders own ball possession and press Dallas, then Sounders will get the better chances to finish.  In full stride, Dallas can control the pace and keep a steady attack.  With the Sounders pressing forward this aspect of Dallas’s game will go away.  Expect Sigi to bring Ljungberg back into the midfield.  He and Alonso can work to lengthen Dallas’s midfield by feeding long passes to Montero and Noonan who will likely take forward positions.  Montero will likely be asked to take the high position and Noonan, a more back-to-goal, possession type forward.  If Noonan is successful, he could help take pressure off Ljungberg for setting the table.  If Noonan can set up a few good central attacking chances, then Zakuani can widen the Dallas defense allowing him to cross in or work the ball in himself.  As much as speed is usually a Sounder strength, they have a second game on Sunday.  So expect the speedy runs to only last about 35-40 minutes.  That means those long passes forward from our midfielders need to be on target.  That will strengthen our counter attacking options and allow pass possession to be more valuable than speed.

Bold prediction:  Seattle puts on an ESPN Game of the Week 3-2 goal display.

Post Match

There are times when my personal support for this team will possibly blur my vision.  But know this about me first; I believe in the growth and development of soccer in America for men and women at a first class professional level, even more than I support the Sounders.  Country before club!  That said, is the topic of water-boarding still inappropriate?  Is Goldman Sachs short selling tactics something to shelve for future consideration?  Is Iceland affected by global warming, or just really, really upset that they are not invited as the 33rd country for this years FIFA World Cup in South Africa?  Did Jason Yeisley intentionally dive to gain the late game stoppage time penalty kick for Dallas?  You better believe your European, flight delaying, volcanic ice cloud he did.  Should the ref have used his side linesman?   You better believe your bank reform laws, he should have.  Penalty kick #1 was a rare John Kennedy Hurtado mistake.  A missed clearance and poor decision.  Penalty kick #2 was a ref that needs work.

Once again, Seattle is relegated to the MLS test lab.  It feels like we are sometimes punished for our technical playing style, and strong fan support.  The MLS needs to improve, and in order to improve they need current, relevent material to demonstrate the necessity for change.  Since most MLS clubs play a clustered, physical defensive style the league is short on samples.  So, when you get a tactical team that prefers constant pressure to build an attack over defending, like Seattle, the league almost appears to roll its sweaty hands together and say,
“Ah, here is our chance.  Prepare the lab gentlemen, we have a living Rave Green specimen”.
That is the life of sports right?
To make the playoffs the math is still in the Sounders favor.  With 5 rounds played, there are 25 to go.  At 3 points per win, that puts 75 points still up for grabs.  The minimum playoff target number is 45.  After 5 rounds, with a 2W-1L-2D record the Sounders are sporting a reasonable 8 points on the season.
Confession:  I wrote that last bit just to relieve my head of the Texas size penalty call by the Lone Star Ref.  To forget that this happened, this supporter and the team must lick their wounds quickly.  Toronto is next.  They are a road match looming ahead on Sunday!  A loss there could hurt.  A draw or win could make this stretch of stoppage time, Ref-alooza matches seem like an early season obstacle to reach towards a greater accomplishment.  What is beautiful about these last 3 matches going to stoppage time, is that there is no more exciting Club Soccer being played anywhere in America.  Put down your NBA playoff schedules, set aside your NHL Stanley Cup craziness, forget about the NFL draft, MLB is early, the Sounders are the real deal in American sports right now.  If you aren’t checking them out, then you are missing out.  The only other sport with games as intense as the Sounders is Congress.

Here is my first completely, honestly, totally, non bias poll.

And lastly, you make the call.  Here is a link to the clip of Jason Yeisley going down.  Was this a Yeisley dive?  Or did the Seattle defenders cause a reprimandable offense impeding Yeisley’s progress and making the refs PK call valid?

Yeisley goes down.

Post your comments and let me know what you think.





Nothing Really Matters, In Preseason.

12 02 2010

It’s the start of preseason, so goals don’t matter because games don’t count. That is one opening line for this first preseason game against regional rival Vancouver Whitecaps. Another opening would be, this is possibly the greatest preseason comeback victory in Sounders FC short MLS history. Sounders dropped behind two goals in the first half. They outran and outplayed Vancouver for 30 minutes, then drifted defensively for the rest of the half giving up both goals. Sounders players and coaches were telling themselves, “eh, this is just a scrimmage”. Then the second half lineup came on. It was game on. The Sounders grabbed an early second half corner and Lamar Neagle made it count heading the ball in off the set piece. Then Sanna Nyassi showed his development by making a nice run down the right side of the box on the next possession. He found enough fitness at the end of his run to slot the ball past the keeper and equalize.

These are preseason goals, they don’t count. Wait. Do you remember our first season? Remember the word ‘draw”? After the Sounders first three wins in 2009, it seemed like Chivas was the only team that tried to attack. The rest chose to play a dense, physical midfield, where defending and tackling were more important than passing and attacking. Give credit where credit is due, because the strategy worked. Eleven draws keeps you out of the basement, but it also keeps you from reaching the ceiling. The Sounders attacks outnumbered opponents on a regular basis but the attacks were predictable, and opponents physical midfield took the threat of speed out of Sounders attacks. Near the end of last season the Sounders started to create ways to counter this against teams like Columbus, Kansas City, and FC Dallas, but the draws had already built up enough that a playoff pairing with a physical team like Houston was a sure thing.

So, this preseason score, which doesn’t even count, seemed to settle at . . . you guessed it, a 2-2 draw. It’s never easy to come back from two goals down in soccer and earn a draw. A preseason, I mean scrimage, comeback draw is a hard fought respectable result. A comeback win is simply out of the question. An obsessively determined effort that does not happen in preseason games or scrimmages. So, it’s nothing short of a little preseason magic that the 88th minute winner from Sanna Nyassi, his second of the match off a great move by Nathan Sturgis to enter the left side of the box, and find Nyassi for the one timer, was an early season reward for this team. Whose 2010 attitude is to add speed and determination to their attacking style. If this good for nothing preseason game winner is an indicator of anything to come this season, it is that this team is a faster more determined team ready to fight out a win from every game, even a meaningless preseason game on February 11th, in Casa Grande, Arizona.








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 757 other followers

%d bloggers like this: