Kick Off: Sounders supporters bring out the best of Schmid
If you were Sigi Schmid, you would have felt the same way.
After a Cascadia rivalry victory over Portland in front of the second largest ever standalone crowd in MLS history (66,452 strong), Schmid was understandably emotional. Few would be able to contain their emotions after being honored like he was by the pregame tifo from the Emerald City Supporters (see the video of the massive tifo here).
"This is what heaven must be like,” Schmid said. “In my imagination of heaven, this is it: packed house, beating Portland by three, fans going crazy, it can’t get better than that. This has been the best thing that has happened to me in soccer and I’m thankful every day I’m here (watch the video of his presser here)."
As for the match itself, it finished 3-0 in favor of Seattle with both Eddie Johnson and Freddy Montero getting on the board (watch the SEA-POR highlights here). And if the Timbers fail to win in Vancouver on Oct. 21, the Cascadia Cup will remain in Seattle.
Would it be a Seattle-Portland rivalry match without a Roger Levesque jab at the Timbers? The ex-Sounders icon first had some praise for Johnson’s stare down of the Timbers Army: “It was a good forceful celebration,” Levesque said. “Maybe it's just where I'm sitting, but I haven't heard a whole lot from the Timbers Army. It might be the score line, I'm not sure."
The Timbers were dejected by their performance and admitted they “handed” the win to Seattle. “We learned a little bit about certain individuals,” continued interim manager Gavin Wilkinson. “Sometimes when things aren't going well, one or two players start hiding a little bit."
There’s no hiding from this much: The San Jose Earthquakes are one step away from winning the Supporters’ Shield. After a 4-1 victory over Colorado (watch the COL-SJ highlights here), they have a five-point lead with only two matches remaining (see the standings here).
And just when you thought Golden Boot leader Chris Wondolowski was running out of games to catch the ’96 single-season goals record held by Roy Lassiter, he nets another hat trick and is only two strikes from tying it (watch his hat trick here).
Wondo already has the Earthquakes’ single-season club record, beating out a player he rooted for in his younger days. That honor would go on top of a league MVP award which his manager believes he’s already sewn up.
Are all the goals and honors grounds for a DP contract and a seven-figure salary? Apparently that’s what Wondo told ESPN’s Alexi Lalas yesterday.
Sporting Kansas City are the only team that has a chance at catching San Jose for the Shield, but they tripped up, drawing 1-1 at Columbus Crew Stadium against a team that’s chasing a playoff spot (watch the CLB-SKC highlights here).
Although SKC will be sweating out further tests on the “dorsiflexed” right ankle of injured midfield dynamo Roger Espinoza, they will also have to keep an eye out on the hard-charging Chicago Fire, who are now just three points away for tops in the East (see East standings here).
The Fire became only the second team to clinch a postseason spot in the East after a big 2-0 win at Red Bull Arena in a nationally televised NBC match (watch the NY-CHI highlights here). Sherjill MacDonald was the star with two goals, and it’s understandable that he’s a big proponent of the Fire playing counterattacking soccer.
For the New York Red Bulls, “It’s definitely worrisome,” said right back Brandon Barklage. “We didn’t respond like a championship-caliber team does and we paid for it.”
Did the front-office shakeup come at an inopportune time for the Red Bulls? NYRB’s new GM spoke on Saturday and admitted that manager’s Hans Backe’s future is still up in the air: “Today we are behind Hans and we are going to be with him through the end of the season. As to next season, we don’t know right now.”
If the Red Bulls don’t watch it, they could yet find themselves out of the playoff picture. The Crew are only four points behind and the Houston Dynamo three points away from New York for fourth place in the East after their 1-1 tie against nemesis Montreal (watch the HOU-MTL highlights here).
The Dynamo could have inched even closer to New York in the standings had Brian Ching’s stoppage-time goal stood: “It’s disappointing because the linesman doesn’t wave his flag, we are celebrating, and then they call it back,” the veteran forward said.
A playoff berth in the East is looking increasingly likely for D.C. United, who gutted out yet another win without MVP Dwayne De Rosario. They used a stroke of luck after a mishap by Toronto FC’s goalkeeper led to the 88th-minute winner by Hamdi Salihi (watch the TOR-DC highlights here).
They were idle this weekend, but the Vancouver Whitecaps still benefited from the slate of matches as they watched FC Dallas stumble to a 1-1 draw at last-place Chivas USA (watch the CHV-DAL highlights here). That result gives the Whitecaps a four-point edge over FCD for the final playoff berth in the West.
There may have been plenty of playoff drama around the league this weekend, but the best action was witnessed at The Home Depot Center, where league heavyweights LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake threw down their gloves in a back-and-forth affair that saw visiting RSL come up with all three points in a 2-1 win. (watch the LA-RSL highlights here)
Robbie Keane opened the scoring with a golazo and Fabián Espíndola responded with a brace for RSL, but it was an injury to US star Landon Donovan that proved the biggest talking point from the match. We’ll see if the left knee knock costs him a place in Jurgen Klinsmann’s World Cup qualifying roster that will be announced later today at 3 pm ET.
But could red-hot American striker Jozy Altidore be off the roster? According to one of his latest tweets, he’s heading to an AZ Alkmaar team event tomorrow.
Lastly, our thoughts are with the family of New York Red Bulls youth soccer coach Mike Jones, who lost his life in a tragic incident early Sunday morning.
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