Kick Off: Sounders attendance ranked 4th largest in world
Here’s some perspective for a Monday morning: Seattle Sounders fans were the fourth largest crowd to watch a soccer match anywhere in the world on Saturday night. Only FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich had larger attendances.
That’s what the editor of World Soccer magazine wanted everyone to know when he saw the 64,140 fans who packed CenturyLink Field for the Seattle Sounders’ hair-raising 2-1 win in Kasey Keller’s final regular season home game.
If you missed the tifo display by Sounders fans in honor of Keller, you’ll want to watch this video. (VIDEO)
Keller got a purple ATV as a retirement gift from the club and Drew Carey was the first to test it out. (PHOTO)
US legends Brian McBride and Claudio Reyna were at the event and were floored by what Seattle offered. While McBride wants to bottle up what’s happening in Seattle and send to other cities, Reyna had this to say: “I'd be lying if I said we didn't doubt the potential ability for soccer to take off here. I doubted it. ... But nights like this make everything seem possible.”
In the hours after the farewell to Keller, the Seattle Sounders are already busy addressing and confirming interest in a possible successor. His name? Michael Gspurning.
Reigning Golden Boot champion Chris Wondolowski saw Keller at his best on a couple of saves but he still managed to get a goal and keep a share of the Golden Boot lead in his bid to repeat. Last year he scored 10 goals in the last eight matches, this year it’s been seven in the last eight: “You go through hot spells, you go through cold spells. It just happens to be that, at the end of the year, I've had a little bit of a hot spell."
More like a hot head when it comes to Thierry Henry. That’s at least what referee Kevin Stott felt in giving the Red Bulls captain a first-half red card. Watch the play and see what Hans Backe and Roger Espinoza, the victim on the play, said in the postgame. (VIDEO)
Heads are also being scratched in Washington, D.C., where The Washington Post questions whether D.C. United even deserve to be in the postseason after their stunning 2-1 loss to the Chicago Fire, who scored both their goals deep into stoppage time.
If fans are wondering why forward Charlie Davies is not starting up top for D.C. United, so is he: “I'm physically fine. I can only do so much with the time that I have. I'm a guy that expects to play 90 minutes. I'm fit. I'm healthy, and it's disappointing when you want to get the playing time to help the team win, and you only get 20, 15 minutes. I've done all I can do."
If watching the result unfold at RFK was maddening for United manager Ben Olsen, it was the same for his counterpart in Houston, Dominic Kinnear. Hoping for a Chicago win on Saturday night to earn the Dynamo a playoff spot, Kinnear says: “As soon as they called the penalty [in favor of D.C.], I got up and walked out of the room because I was so mad.” But Chicago stormed back and Houston are in.
Another team that advanced to the playoffs is the Columbus Crew, who won 3-0 over the New England Revolution in the last-place team’s home finale. The headline of this Boston Herald article says it all: “Rev-olting End To Home Slate.” And Revs manager Steve Nicol had to resort once again to a line he hoped he would not have to use: “We just weren’t good tonight.”
Peter Nowak’s Philadelphia Union made the playoffs in their second season after tying Toronto FC 1-1. He says his club were “a little bit scared to win the game.” And he’s already looking forward to facing the Red Bulls in Thursday night’s finale stating: “The loss of Henry, we don’t know if it’s a good situation or not, because we know that [Juan] Agudelo will play. I don’t know if it’s a good or a bad thing.” Maybe a little dig at Henry?
Now that they’re in the postseason, the Union are dreaming big: “Why stop here? I think we have the talent to make a run at this thing,” says midfielder Justin Mapp.
The result mattered very little on Sunday night, but the LA Galaxy are now unbeaten in the last 10 against Chivas USA with a 1-0 win in the latest SuperClásico. But there were several interesting news tidbits to emerge from the match: Landon Donovan is expected back on Thursday at Motagua and manager Bruce Arena hopes to get Robbie Keane back some time during the playoffs: “Hopefully, he's ready for our first playoff game [on Oct. 29 or 30], but we're going to do what makes sense. If he needs more time, he's going to get more time.”
Meanwhile, David Beckham insists he will decide his future in the offseason. It’s worth noting that his entire family was at Sunday’s match, according to these photos that appeared in the Daily Mail, including his mom, sister and recently born daughter Harper Seven Beckham. (PHOTOS)
FC Dallas have one more game to try to beat out Real Salt Lake for the third automatic playoff spot in the West – they’re even on points after Dallas downed the Vancouver Whitecaps with an easy 2-0 win. After watching his team “hit the wall,” FCD manager Schellas Hyndman says he’s proud “of how well they’ve been able to recover at the right time.”
That’s 17 matches and no road wins for the Whitecaps in their first MLS season. “Not anything we’re proud of,” says manager Tom Soehn. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Joe Cannon says: “When you have 17 chances at it, you should probably get one.”
In NASL second-division action, it’ll be the Fort Lauderdale Strikers facing the Minnesota Stars in the final after both clubs upset more favored opponents in the semis. Carolina RailHawks manager Martin Rennie can now shift focus on the Vancouver Whitecaps after his team fell to Minnesota on penalty kicks.
Among the highlights of American players based overseas, Michael Bradley’s Chievo Verona held Serie A leaders Juventus to a scoreless draw, while Herculez Gomez came off the bench again to score his sixth goal of the season for Estudiantes Tecos.
Speaking of players abroad, the Houston Dynamo are looking for the next star from Barbados, according to this article.
In European news from this weekend, Argentines Gonzalo Higuaín and Lionel Messi led Real Madrid and Barcelona to easy wins respectively, the Bayern Munich machine rolls at record pace in Germany, Inter Milan lost again in Italy and Manchester City are tops in the EPL after the 1-1 tie between Liverpool and Manchester United which saw Chicharito score the equalizer.
The EPL means big money. So much that there is a movement among Premier League owners to abolish relegation and they might soon have enough votes to push it through.
Soccer has grown into such a multi-million dollar business that there is an EPL club that has hired Yale-educated scientists to test for injury-prone players by studying their DNA and seeking genetic mutations tied to an increased chance of landing on the shelf.
In Mexico, Chivas de Guadalajara have spoken out against the goal-scoring celebration of one of its stars. Marco Fabián feted his goal by using his hand to point a gun to the forehead of teammate Alberto Medina. Management did not appreciate it, especially given the violence that reins in Mexico (PHOTO / SPANISH)
Something else you never like to see in professional soccer: racial slurs being used by opponents. Manchester United’s French international defender Patrice Evra claims that Liverpool’s Luis Suárez used a slur 10 different times during their match on Saturday.
Earlier that day, Suárez posed with NBA superstar LeBron James, a minority owner of Liverpool FC who took in his first game. Here are more photos of King James in the stands, looking very owner-like. (PHOTOS)
Lastly, the world of sports is mourning the loss of Indy Car racer Dan Wheldon, who died in a crash yesterday. Here’s a soccer-related memory of Wheldon, including an interview, when he visited FC Dallas back in 2008. He gets mobbed by FC Dallas players after scoring a PK and he’s also seen racing golf carts around Pizza Hut Park. (VIDEO)
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