Sounders vs Timbers – Cascadia Rivalry – Image from Cascadia Trifecta
The more I am involved in the Cascadia Rivalry, the more I find my perspective broadening and not becoming cemented to one perspective. My heart is for only one club. But the passion, humor, and history of the rivalry have engaged me to the point of enjoying other people across team borders.
This afternoon I have the opportunity as a Seattle Sounders fan to meet up with a Portland Timbers fan. Although your first instinct is to call Homeland Security. I assure you it is not needed. This meeting is the rational outgrowth of many Facebook conversations between a Teacher and a Banker. A Timber and a Sounder.
He is a Timbers fan who was once a Sounders fan. I am a Sounders fan with family and friends near Portland. We have region, beer, and soccer to bond with. Rivalry support is separate, but raising scarves, and cheering on our respective clubs each week, turns out to not be the only supporter qualities we share.
If Obama had the “Beer Summit”, I guess you could say we will have the Beer Meet-up.
We take part in a unique Facebook group known as “Cascadia Trifecta”. Involving fans of all three of Cascadia’s clubs from Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver. Jabs are common place, but moments of rational intellect are not filtered out.
Last year the site gained recognition with the creation of a Cascadia kit. The design came from the creative minds and comments of those who regularly participate in the site.
Here is my recent piece in Prost Amerika where I take some of what I’ve gained in my Cascadia conversations. I still wear my Sounders badge on my sleeve, but my perspective has taken on elements of neutral respect.
Seattle Sounders FC, inaugural season 2009, US Open Cup Champions 2009-Present
Sounders FC‘s steady-seven defender rotation have only allowed 3 goals. Helping Keepers Michael Gspurning and Bryan Meredith earn 6 shutouts. Including 3 in a row, with over 270 shutout-minutes. They are the back-line foundation of the Sounders early success. The best defensive unit in Major League Soccer through 9-matches.
All that defensive prowess and early success for the club will be tested tonight, 7pm at Century Link. Real Salt Lake bring their physical, but slick attacking style to Seattle. Kyle Beckerman and gang are as adept at scoring as any club in Major League Soccer. They have played 12-matches and stand top-of-the league with 23 points.
With a win tonight, Sounders have an opportunity to rise up and takeover the top spot in Major League Soccer. Doing so against Real Salt Lake would build the clubs only missing element of competitive success. Playoff confidence.
These are the types of matches the Sounders must begin to win if they want playoff success. In order to have confidence to march to the dream of hoisting the MLS Cup.
The Sounders have wrestled 12 points in their last 4 matches. The maximum possible. Part of a schedule as compact as a Mariners schedule. Featuring 5 matches in 15 days. Overall, the Sounders have won five in a row and are unbeaten in their last six matches. But none have been as significant, not even the 2-nil win over LA, as this match tonight with Real Salt Lake.
Claret and Cobalt – Inaugural season 2005, MLS Cup Champions 2009
The Claret and Cobalt of Salt Lake City are the Sounders first real test of 2012. If a winner emerges, they could move to the top of the Western Conference. Even tops in MLS.
Last season the Sounders traveled to Salt Lake, braking Real Salt Lake’s 29-match home win streak. RSL countered in the playoffs with a 2-leg, 3-2 aggregate goal, heartbreaking playoff series victory over Seattle.
Is it a rivalry? Nothing like a Cascadia rivalry, but as Sigi said, “Is Manchester United Arsenal’s biggest rival? No, but it’s a rivalry game.”
“Any time you have two good teams playing each other and want to compete for top of the table, there’s always going to be a little bit of a rivalry there,” – Sigi Schmid, Sounders FC
Here are the Sounders Steady-Seven defensive rotation. Only 3-goals allowed. 6-shutouts. 270+ minutes of scoreless soccer.
#12 – Leo Gonzalez, #4 – Pat Ianni, #34 – Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, #5 – Adam Johansson, #8 – Marc Burch, #20 – Zach Scott, #31 – Jeff Parke
Western Conference standings:
1 – Real Salt Lake, 23-pts, 7-W, 3-L, 2-D, (12 matches played)
2 – San Jose Earthquakes, 22-pts, 7-W, 2-L, 1-D, (10 matches played)
3 – Seattle Sounders FC, 22-pts, 7-W, 1-L, 1-D, (9 matches played)
Sporting Kansas City, 21-pts, 7-W, 2-L, 0-D, (9 matches played) - SKC play in the MLS Eastern Conference.
3-pts Win, 1-pt Draw, 0-pts Loss
Title by Hannah J Breuler, 9 year-old niece of SOS
She got the idea while sitting on oranges and reading the blog.
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.
Brian Mullan received Seattle’s most sporting welcome for visiting the Sounders at CenturyLink last Saturday. He was given a proper loud greeting. The kind of traditional Seattle sports greeting reserved by fans of the Seahawks 12th Man, Mariners fans at Safeco, and Sounders Emerald City Supporters for players who’ve become villans of Supersonic City.
Who is Clay Bennett, and who are the Oklahoma City Thunder? For the “Daily Double”, Alex?
There was a large media build up to Mullan’s visit. Yet for all the hype, there wasn’t much to report between Seattle’s fans and Mullan. Except noise. It wasn’t a situation you would characterize as, “much ado about nothing”. But the boo-jeering of Mullan remained tame. Even expected.
From player introductions, to every touch of the ball, until exiting the pitch, Brian Mullan was greeted and jeered with boos for his slide tackle last April, that broke Steve Zakuani's right leg, nearly ending his career.
Mullan strolled into Seattle from the rocky mountains of Commerce City, Colorado. Home of the Rapids. From the edge of town to every turn of the street he was reminded of the sad and heavy-handed incident with Zakuani a year ago. Fans came, fans saw, and fans booed. There were no surprises.
Seattle’s fans did what good sporting fans are supposed to do. From lineup introductions for the purple-clad visitors from Colorado, fans picked out the one true villan. Brian Mullan was given more than a traditional “who?”, during player introductions. ”Who?”, is a pre-match jeer for visiting soccer players as their names are announced. For Brian Mullan, the usual “who?” was followed by a bravado-chorus of “boo”. That greeting echoed the entire match whenever Mullan touched the ball.
Brian Mullan had other plans. In the 33rd minute Omar Cummings shot a solid strike at Seattle’s goal. The ball deflected off Sounders’ Keeper, Michael Gspurning’s hands. Mullan swooped in from his right-wing post and worked his way into the center of the Sounders 6-yard box. Seeing the deflection, he raced forward, knocking the loose ball into the net.
Alex Rodriquez was almost set free. For an instant, Seattle’s most disliked sporting-villan appeared to be released. This vision was quickly vanquished by the assistant referee who flagged the play offside.
In all fairness to Mullan, he was one of the more positive, forward moving playmakers on the Rapids during the match.
In the end, it was one of the more unlikely Sounders who stepped forward into the role of hero. Zach Scott turned a 63rd minute corner from fellow newcomer, Alex Caskey into the far corner of Colorado’s net. Scott’s snap-flick header, came from Caskey’s left-sided corner. As the ball curled in to the box, Scott escaped his defensive marker. Creating a seam of space to run towards the near post and meet the ball before it could be whipped away by Colorado’s defensive grinders.
The game winner was Scott’s first goal in Major League Soccer. The hard working, and longtime Sounders veteran defender had coach, Sigi Schmid contemplating after the match if any Sounder would be more unlikely to score. ”Michael Gspurning. (Sounders Goalkeeper) I think he’d probably be a little more unlikely”.
Scott started playing for the Sounders in 2002 before they were promoted to MLS in 2009 from their A-League/USL-1 days. Teammate Roger Levesque, and Assistant Coach, Brian Schmetzer are the other two standouts from the clubs older era.
Zach Scott’s “Man of the Match” reward was shared with longtime fans. Sending 38,000 riding home into the happy sunset.
Sales on Sounders by Gabi Campanario - 8/5/09 @ Barca Friendly
Before the Revolution and after Red Bull Run. Sounders 30-year-old for-mid-fender, Roger Levesque, is the most disliked Sounder by Portland Timber fans. His game winning goal followed by his “scuba dive” celebration is sure to plant seeds of disapproval further east in the New York Red Bull camp. ”For-mid-fender” is coach Sigi Schmid‘s creative position title for Levesque, because of his willingness and hustle to do whatever he can to help the team, including playing any field position.
A quick dive-down through the key match points. After only 12-minutes Sounders built a 2-nil lead. Sounders 2011 stats would suggest that lead is insurmountable. Then again, this is the crazy world of soccer. New York would half the lead by half-time. Then a Sounders rare Own-Goal by defender Zach Scott in the 58th minute. With the score level at 2-2 in the 58th minute, Sigi Schmid made a surprise early substitution. He sent on Roger Levesque for Michael Fucito. The move replaced short up front speed, with a little more height and up front hustle. The move paid solid dividends. From a well placed Leo Gonzalez corner, Levesque flicked home a headed goal and Seattle took a 3-2 lead.
Then came the moment that has gone internet viral. Red Bull defenders feeling pressure from Levesque and Montero, played a usual ball back to keeper Greg Sutton, who took the ball at his feet and prepared to distribute it up field. Unfortunately for his head, his feet had a momentary lapse. His first touch bobbled awkwardly, and Instead of clearing the ball away, Sutton only managed to bounce the ball in front of his feet. Levesque dove in and was able to swipe away the free-swimming ball. He quickly settled control away from Sutton, and only had to walk the ball into the net. Sutton looked on in broken disbelief.
Brandi Chastain, 1999 US Women World Cup winning PK vs China
Goal celebrations are an important part of sports entertainment. US Soccer, unlike the NFL is not known for many well choreographed celebrations. Two historic examples do stand out. One is Brandi Chastain’s World Cup winning penalty kick against China. Dropping to the ground, throwing off her shirt and raising her hands in celebration. Truly one of the most memorable US Soccer moments. That one made the cover of Sports Illustrated. Almost as epic was Landon Donovan’s 2010 World Cup goal against Algeria. He ran and slid to the corner flag with his teammates following and piling on top.
Levesque’s was not as international. It will definitely make the 2011 top-10 charts and received more media attention than any recent extracurricular soccer affair. Non-FIFA related that is. Running behind Sutton’s shrunken goal, Levesque perched a seat atop the electronic ad-board lining the outside of the field. He put his fingers to his nose, then fell into a pool of celebration. He called this the “scuba dive”. Harmless. But surely not to be forgotten in New York.
Before moving on to Sounder Sunday with Fort Revolution, there was a small soccer gathering in Southern California between El Tri and Team Chicharito competing against the Red, White, and Blue US Boys of Summer, for the 2011 Gold Cup Final. Nearly 100,000 attended the thrilling match. US took an early surprise lead going up 2-nil. Then once Mexico scored, the US defense was never able to regain composure and Mexico found a steady stream of glory. Winning 4-2, this will be remembered as an epic US collapse as well as the most talented and inspired Mexican squad. The Rose Bowl Rendezvous, like Sutton’s blunder will surely not be forgotten.
The Revolution bring back Sounder trouble maker, Shalrie Joseph. His size and skill in midfield is tough for any team to handle. The Sounders are no exception. How to solve for Shalrie? Against New York Red Bulls, Zach Scott put a couple of solid defensive tackles on star Dwayne De Rosario. Shalrie is a bit more retaliatory than De-Ro, so the potential for backlash is greater, but the early effort could help creep a sense of irritation into Joseph’s head. When he roams free and unobstructed he is one of the best in MLS. If the Sounders frustrate him, the door for a third straight win could be pushed open. It will be a physical task. Being the third game in a week doesn’t help. So goes mid-season life for a Sounder.
Qwest Field was officially renamed CenturyLink Field. The introduction was made prior to the start of the Red Bulls match. The first night affair saw the Sounders first ever four goal match, and a new attendance record of 46,754.
The July transfer window is nearly open and MLS rumors of big name signings are piling up. The Sounders are heaped in the middle of the rumor mills. One to watch and one to hope for. Rumored to be attending was Ghana National, Prince Tagoe. Tagoe was part of the Ghana team that eliminated the US from the 2010 World Cup. A hopeful name for this author is Diego Forlan, from the 2010 Uruguay National Team. Both of carry high prices and could easily be silly rumors. It does show that the Sounders attendance gives them enough pedigree to be considered a legitimate home for big name stars.
This contradicts my opinion that developed players are ultimately more valuable than Designated Players, but that is another longer post. Until then, it is off to the Revolution.
Mid-Season Poll Question. Add your comments of who you would like to see come to the MLS.
No contributions or detailed references this week. Please follow my link to Prost Amerika Soccer. If you enjoy Sales on Sounders, you will equally appreciate the passion, humor, and intelligence put into that site.