Seattle Sounders FC
Una de las cosas que definitivamente tenía que ver en Seattle era la ya muy reconocida Marcha al Estadio o “March to the Match”, donde – con una banda de guerra al frente – los aficionados de Seattle Sounders hacen una ruidosa llegada al CenturyLink Field.
Para el partido ante Chelsea FC la fiesta no fue diferente. Los dejó con este video que es una pequeñísima prueba de la rumba que se arma antes del inicio de los partidos.
Un agradecimiento especial a la Barra Fuerza Verde por guiar a este extranjero de sus tradiciones y un detalle a resaltar: noten la seriedad de los hombres del Chelsea al segundo 11 de este video… no sé a ustedes, pero a mí se me hace que no esperaban que todo ese revuelo no fuera para ellos sino para los locales. Me gusta.
SEATTLE - The "Roger Levesque denouement" story will come sometime in the next couple of days. I'm not the one to write it - Levesque has a special place in Sounders lore, and it'll take someone who's steeped in said lore to do his story justice.
But as a neutral, and as a fan of the league, just know this: A life-long sub, a guy who was never the best player on the field at any point during his professional career, just got a standing ovation from 50,000 fans on a random Wednesday night in July. He hung around out there for 45 minutes afterward signing autographs, mingling with hoi polloi, and basically embodying everything about what must have been a wild trip.
Levesque, like so many other American kids, began playing before there was even a professional soccer league here in the States. He started his pro career bouncing between MLS and the lower divisions. And he finished it on a field surrounded by World Cup stars, European champions and teammates from 14 different countries while 50,000 people screamed his name back and forth.
It's been his own journey, but while watching it was hard not to think of how far we've all come.
Anyway, bon voyage, Roger. Thanks for the moment.
Es el jugador más representativo de Seattle Sounders en el medio del campo, y muchos dicen que incluso es el mejor jugador actualmente en la MLS.
Ese es Osvaldo Alonso.
Claro está que no lo es en todas las posiciones de la cancha, tal y como muestra este video, donde el estelar cubano es vencido en la portería por una pequeña jugadora de fútbol.
Zapatero a sus zapatos.
La finale de la Coupe des États-Unis, programmée de longue date à Kansas City, opposera le Sporting local à Seattle, triple tenant du titre. L’affiche rêvée !
Lors des demi-finales programmées ce mercredi, Kansas City s’est imposé 0-2 à Philadelphie, vengeant le cinglant 4-0 concédé en championnat il y a quelques semaines, alors que Seattle a confirmé son retour en forme en battant Chivas USA 4-1. Mais Sigi Schmid ne sera heureux qu’en cas de victoire lors de la finale, le 8 août. Rappelons que le vainqueur décrochera aussi un ticket pour la Ligue des champions 2013-2014.
La journée a également été très animée du côté nord de la frontière. On a commencé par des transferts : Davide Chiumiento quitte Vancouver pour le FC Zurich, Justin Braun rejoint Salt Lake et quitte Montréal qui s’est renforcé avec l’arrière gauche suisse Dennis Iapichino, alors que Toronto se sépare de Nick Soolsma et prête Joao Plata.
En soirée, le duel entre les Ontariens et leurs compatriotes du Pacifique a eu des allures de feu d’artifice (résumé vidéo complet). Le marquoir indiquait 2-1 à la fin du temps réglementaire, avant que Mattocks n’égalise de la tête suite à une détente digne de la NBA. Mais tard dans les arrêts de jeu, Dunfield a offert les trois points au TFC.
There's like a 99 percent chance that, if you're reading this blog post, you also watched the 2012 European Championship final between Spain and Italy.
It was awesome. Even if you had no rooting interest (full disclosure: I'm a quarter Italian, but was pulling for Spain), it's hard not to get caught up when the stakes are that high and the quality of soccer on display matches it.
And it just kills me that CONCACAF and CONMEBOL can't figure out a way to get a "Copa Américas" up and running every four years, starting immediately after the Euros. What an incredible opportunity the two confederations are missing.
Hopefully someday, they'll figure it out.
Anyway, only one real observation this week...
Scoring keeps going up and up and up
OK, now that you've read it, you know that teams are passing more, passing more accurately, passing more aggressively, and as a result (we assume), scoring more. Before this week scoring was already up 12 percent over last season's pace. That will have gone up some more, since in Week 17's 10-game slate there were 34 total goals.
And it's not just a blip. Since the end of the international break, MLS clubs have produced 100 goals in 33 games (thanks to Greg Lalas for that little tidbit).
It's the reversal of a 10-year trend. Back in 2001 MLS averaged 3.28 goals per game; by 2010, that was down to 2.46. Here's the whole table:
2011 -- 2.58
2010 -- 2.46
2009 -- 2.54
2008 -- 2.81
2007 -- 2.66
2006 -- 2.62
2005 -- 2.87
2004 -- 2.61
2003 -- 2.89
2002 -- 3.01
2001 -- 3.28
2000 -- 3.19
1999 -- 2.86
1998 -- 3.57*
1997 -- 3.26
1996 -- 3.37
The key thing here isn't just that MLS have imported guys like Thierry Henry (one of the league's elite finishers) and David Beckham (one of the league's elite chance creators). The league's also kept guys like Dwayne De Rosario and Brad Davis, who've both had overseas interest; they've developed highly rated talents like Chris Pontius and Will Bruin, who've both been given plenty of time to figure out where the net is; and, of course, used the Reserve League to help build Chris Wondolowski, who's turning into one of MLS' all-time greats.
It's a multi-faceted approach to finding and cultivating talent, and the numbers say it's working.
* For those of you who don't remember 1998 for one reason or another ... yes, that season was as crazy as the numbers indicate. Go find some YouTube clips of that year's Galaxy squad — it'll be worth your time.
Timbers Army brought the heat this weekend at JELD-WEN Field, adding another epic tifo to the growing list of massive displays that seem to serve as the precursors to Portland-Seattle matches. (See Portland's King of Clubs and Seattle's Decades of Dominance for example.)
As you can see above, the banner stretched across the entirety of the north end of the stadium, creating an absolutely stunning tribute to the city of Portland and its soccer past. The Timbers Army hit all the right notes with this effort: the Portland skyline, city and cascadia flags and Clive Charles right smack in the middle as a focal point. That's soccer art, for sure.
I'll leave you with one more image from the match, which had no shortage of talking points.
I just went 2/9 on my weekend picks. This was after going 2/6 midweek.
It’s not because I’m bad at picking games (though lord knows, I’m not good), but it’s because the parity in MLS is just that hard to get a handle on these days. This is a league where players like Branko Boskovic and Chris Rolfe come off the bench, where Danny Koevermans goes from misfiring back to deadeye, and where a nine-point week is enough to vault you back into the playoff race.
Turns out the Galaxy aren’t dead yet
Sorry, I know this is going to annoy a lot of you. It’s always fun to try to shovel dirt on the champs – doubly so when it’s a high-profile team.
But it turns out that was premature. LA just rattled off three straight wins, including two by shutout. It’s too early to say they’ve returned to their 2011 form, but it’s also clearly too late to take back all the nasty stuff we’ve said about them over the past couple of months.
One thing to bear in mind: David Beckham said it came down to being happy and loose in the locker room, and that it’s cleared up only in the past couple of weeks. So whatever it was that was eating away at LA’s commitment went away when Robbie Keane did. Will it return now that he has?
“Emergency Defender” proving a rock in Philly
Last week John Hackworth said that youngster Amobi Okugo would be playing in central defense for the time being as an emergency measure. If his first two games there are any indication, he may never get a chance to move back to the midfield.
Okugo is simply excellent when the game is being played in front of him, showing good anticipation and understanding of both when and how to play outlets to the midfield. He’s also big and strong enough (6-foot, 170 pounds) to bully around in the box when it comes down to that.
Most importantly, though, he’s just a better player when he doesn’t have to have 360 degree awareness. This isn’t unusual – d-mids tend to mature later than other players precisely because it’s such a complex position.
But Philly already have two veterans (Brian Carroll and Gabriel Gomez) for that spot, and are paper-thin in defense. And the US… well, we know all about the plethora of defensive-minded central midfielders available to Jurgen Klinsmann.
There are, however, precious few young central defenders who’ve impressed on a game-to-game basis. Okugo’s off to a good start in that regard. Let’s hope he stays there, and we see a bit of him in the red, white and blue this January.
Why not build more Gordons?
Alan Gordon didn’t just become a good soccer player overnight. He’s always had a great passing eye, a good understanding of where to be in build-up play and a willingness to stick his nose in. Even if he’s not a 90-minute player, he’s still valuable. The past two months – and past two games especially – have been proof enough of that.
The thing is, though, that Gordon (and his teammate Steven Lenhart) were built by years of practice and occasional game time. Each of them took several years to get up to speed, and now the Quakes are reaping the rewards of both LA’s and Columbus’ hard work.
Which begs the question: Why don’t more teams take on young guys like Gordon and Lenhart then groom them for that specific role? While combing through MLS rosters, the only ones I’ve seen who are really, truly doing that are Columbus (with Tom Heinemann and Aaron Schoenfeld), Houston (Cam Weaver and Colin Rolfe) and New England (Blake Brettschneider).
None of these guys are truly ready right now – though Brettschneider is close, and Heinemann would have gotten there this season if not for his injury – but in two years, all of these guys can be looked at as Gordon or Lenhart-types.
Or, if you want to go with the original model: Brian Ching-types.
So yeah, putting a guy like that – a true center forward – out there may not be what Vicente del Bosque would do. But no MLS team is going to have Xavi, Iniesta, Silva, Fabregas and Busquets to call on. If you’re not Spain, chances are you’ll need a target.
I’d want my team already hard at work making one.
Not only will the fans of the clubs be whipped into a frenzy, but the soccer culturati in the Rose City and in the Emerald City will be buzzing around to get their hands on these special-edition promo posters.
They aren't even top half of their own league – ninth of 12 teams in the Gran Liga de Oxnard to be exact – but Cal FC are playing on the big stage.
Fox Soccer announced Friday that they would be televising the US Open Cup fourth round match between Cal FC, which is coached by Eric Wynalda, and the Seattle Sounders at Starfire Stadium (correction: The story previously stated incorrectly that the game would be played at CenturyLink Field) live on Tuesday (10 pm ET). In other words, Cinderella is going to the ball and a camera crew will be following her around to document the whole thing.
That's good news for US Open Cup aficionados, of which there seem to be many in the early stages of the 2012 competition. Don't go betting the farm on Cal FC just yet though. They may have knocked off a Portland side that couldn't hit the broad side of a barn, but the three-time defending champions are up next and aren't likely to be so wasteful.
Still, they'll get their moment in the spotlight with plenty of reason to believe they can compete at the very least.
Great news for U.S. Open Cup fans: Cal FC's incredible run continues at @SoundersFC LIVE on FOX Soccer at 10 ET on Tuesday, June 5.
— Fox Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 1, 2012