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Seattle Sounders Win Second MLS Cup‬, This Time At Home

Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

It was dark. Pitch black, even. As I rubbed my eyes to check the time, my clock showed 5:58 AM. I turned my head to see if my husband was awake, but his side of the bed was empty. As I slowly sat up and peered out the window into the darkness, I saw him in the driveway loading up our SUV with tailgate provisions. Clearly, he was even more anxious than I was.

The enormity of the day was not lost on us, as I know it weighed heavily on the minds of many Sounders fans and the people of Seattle. In the week leading up to the city hosting MLS Cup, there was a buzz around Seattle unlike anything I’d ever experienced.

Even before the giant replica MLS Cup Trophy began popping up around downtown landmarks, the Sounders were all anyone was talking about. Between the insane ticket sales, the pre-game Macklemore concert and the fact that this was shaping up to be the biggest championship game in Seattle history, the buildup was massive.

Seattle Sounders c-owner, Macklemore. Photo Credit: Jill Peck

I drove in to the city around 9 AM, with my almost-3-year-old son in the backseat. We met up with my husband, who arrived hours earlier to tailgate with family, friends, and several hundred fellow Sounders fans. After some cold brew coffee, doughnut holes, and sporadic Sounders chants, we made our way to the ‘March to the Match.’ It was my son’s first time.

Scenes at Occidental Park before the match. Photo credit: Q13 Fox

The scenes were insane. People packed every inch of Occidental Park and it’s surrounding blocks. My husband was at the first ‘March to the Match’ over a decade ago and expressed to me his utter disbelief and joy that this many people would be walking through blue smoke, singing in unison and cheering together.

As we funneled in to the stadium, it was amazing to see it so full, even before kickoff. A typical Sounders game hosts anywhere between 35-42,000 fans. On this day, the stadium would fill to 69,274 people, a stadium record for any sporting event (take that, Seahawks). The Emerald City Supporters put on a show with their tifo as well, pulling off a full stadium tifo to perfection.

Full Stadium tifo. Photo Credit: Seattle Sounders FC.

As the teams approached midfield and the scarves were raised around the stadium, I looked over to my husband, who was holding our son tightly. While clapping along with those around him, my son yelled, “let’s go boys!” As he had heard his dad yell at kickoff before every game his entire life. I smiled to my husband, so thankful for the moment.

The first half proved to be one of great defensive efforts for the Sounders, which was not what the historical crowd had anticipated or hoped for. The Sounders often looked flat and could not create any offensive threats through anyone other than Raul Ruidiaz. Roman Torres, Kim Kee-Hee, and Stefan Frei were called upon to make several defensive saves. The teams went to halftime tied 0-0.

Photo Credit: Jill Peck

As the teams came back on to the field, the crowd energy in the stadium became an overwhelming 12th man of support. The Sounders were attacking, creating chances, and bringing the game to Toronto… and the crowd was louder than ever before. In the 57th minute, Kelvin Leerdam’s shot on goal deflected off Toronto defender Justin Morrow and slid in to the back of the net. The stadium erupted to the point of seismic activity. Fire shot from the goalposts and my sweet son said to me, “mama, the Sounders won MLS Cup!” I smiled and said “not yet, bud.”

Victor Rodiguez, the Sounders super sub of playoffs thus far, subbed in at the 61st minute and completely opened up the game. The Sounders turned on the jets and showed no signs of slowing down. Even when Jozy Altidore was brought on in the 68th minute, it was Seattle who dominated possession, shots on goal, corner kicks, and duels.

Photo Credit: Jill Peck

As an incredibly nervous and superstitious fan, a 1-0 lead was not incredibly comforting to me. Even with the increase in quality play, I was anxiously watching the clock tick down. But in the 76th minute, the game’s eventual MVP, Victor Rodriguez, slotted home a long range effort to give Seattle a 2-0 lead with less than 15 minutes to go. It was in that moment, even with the most dangerous lead in soccer, that I knew we were going to win.

Photo Credit: Jill Peck

And in the 90th minute, Raul Ruidiaz made sure of that victory with a chip over Toronto goalkeeper, Quintin Westburg. While Jozy Altidore would pull one back in the 93rd minute, the whistle blew moments later and sealed Seattle’s victory 3-1.

The Sounders were officially two-time MLS Cup Champions, but this time winning on their own turf. I couldn’t help but cry as the fireworks exploded around the stadium. I hugged my husband and son so tightly in that moment, knowing it was possibly a once in a lifetime experience for us to have together.

Hometown boys Cristian Roldan and Jordan Morris. Photo Credit: Jill Peck

While the Sounders haven’t been the flashiest name in MLS, with the likes of Atlanta and LAFC taking up many of the headlines this season, they proved with this win that they are a team that should be respected. The accomplishments they’ve been able to make in just 10 seasons are simply unmatched across the league.

This MLS Cup championship trophy will go into Seattle’s already stacked cabinet of four US Open Cups, a Supporter’s Shield, and their first MLS Cup trophy from only 3 seasons ago. They also are the only team across the last 10 seasons to make the playoffs EVERY year. And with clutch tactician Brian Schmetzer at the helm and General Manager Garth Lagerway pulling strings, they show no signs of slowing down.

When my family finally got home after staying in the stadium for nearly 45 minutes and celebrating all around Seattle for hours after the game ended, all three of us were emotionally and physically drained. As we put my son to bed and went to close the door, he stopped us and said, “hey mama, hey dada, the Sounders won MLS Cup.” I gave my husband’s hand a squeeze as I responded, “they sure did bud.”

The emotional comedown from this day was intense for me. It took me several days just to put in words what happened and what that win meant to me. And I don’t think I’ll ever have words for what this win meant to this city. Instead, I’ll let Brian Schmetzer attempt to say it for me:

All images:  @jillmpeck on Instagram

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @savage_hart

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The Rubber Match Preview: Seattle Hosts Toronto for Tie-Break MLS Cup

Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

December 10th, 2016. I sat on my couch in a Seattle suburb balancing a bowl of popcorn on my belly. It was my due date for my first baby boy, Sawyer, and I was beyond ready to meet him. Due dates are hardly ever accurate though, especially with first pregnancies.

Nevertheless, I sat there that day especially hopeful to be in labor soon, but not for at least another 10 or 15 minutes. The Seattle Sounders had just played 120 long, grueling minutes in their first MLS Cup appearance in club history and were now heading to a penalty shoot out. My blood pressure was through the roof.

But the rest is MLS history. Seattle would win the shootout 5-4 and Sawyer wouldn’t be born for six more days. We welcomed him into a world were the Seattle Sounders were reigning MLS Cup Champions. To this day, I’m still not sure which was the greater joy for my husband.

Photo Credit: Ashley Savage

MLS Cup 2017 was not as kind to the Sounders, as Toronto swiftly defeated them. The postseason of 2018 was not much better, as the Sounders were eliminated by their biggest rivals, the Portland Timbers, who went on to lose the MLS Cup final to Atlanta United.

In the span of those two seasons, my son attended nearly every home Sounders match. He smiled brightly every time the Sounders scored a goal and fire shot from the goalposts. At two, he held his hand over his heart for every national anthem and would mumble sounds that somewhat emulated the lyrics. These games brought him so much joy, just as he brought joy to our family.

The 2019 season for the Seattle Sounders was one that I would not describe as joyful. There were so many injuries. Brad Smith, Kelvin Leerdam, Victor Rodriguez, Raul Ruidiaz, Gustav Svensson, Jordan Morris, Nicolas Lodeiro, Roman Torres, Kim Ki Hee, Will Bruin and Joevin Jones all spent significant time out injured. Chad Marshall was forced in to retirement prior to mid-season. The team dropped more points at home than any of their previous ten seasons.

Photo Credit: Seattle Sounders FC

But there were also many moments of magic. Jordan Morris put together his best season in MLS and was rewarded with the MLS Comeback Player of the Year award. Stefan Frei was an absolute force in the net game after game. And when it mattered most, the team grabbed enough points to finish second in the Western Conference and haven’t looked back since.

Photo Credit: Seattle Sounders FC

Raul Ruidiaz has scored three goals and three assists in his playoff appearances this season. Nicolas Lodeiro has two goals and four assists in three post season appearances.

While the Sounders were not dominant in their opening playoff victory against FC Dallas, the team posted a shutout in the next round against Real Salt Lake. Then, they did the unthinkable by traveling to Banc of California Stadium and put on a clinic to near perfection on how to beat the greatest regular season team in MLS history, LAFC.

Now, thanks to a lightening bolt strike from Nick DeLeon that defeated Atlanta in the Eastern Conference Final, Toronto FC are heading to Seattle for the MLS Cup Rubber Match. For impartial fans, this story-line is probably getting old. But for me and my family and the city of Seattle, this is the most anticipated day we could possibly imagine.

The city of Seattle hasn’t hosted many championships. During the 1978 and 1979 seasons the Seattle Supersonics hosted several finals games and the Seattle Storm have hosted in the 2004, 2010, and 2018 seasons when they won their respective titles.

For a metropolitan area of nearly 3.89 million people, hosting this championship means everything. Possibly to no one more than head coach Brian Schmetzer, who was born in Seattle, played for the Sounders USL side and has taken the team to three MLS Cups in his four seasons as head coach. For this city, for this team, and for this writer, this game means everything.

The game will kickoff at 12:08 PM PST on Sunday November 10th at CenturyLink Field and will broadcast on ABC. Tickets for the match sold out in minutes and it’s estimated that nearly 71,000 fans will be in attendance.

One of those fans will be my son, Sawyer, who is now almost three years old and insists on wearing his Nightfall Jordan Morris jersey to every single match. While he was a few days late to witness the Sounders first MLS Cup, here’s hoping he gets to see the Rave Green hoist the trophy in person this Sunday.

Featured image: Seattle Sounders FC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @savage_hart

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All That Glitters is Not (Black and) Gold

Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

The Seattle Sounders are on their way to their 3rd MLS Cup appearance in four seasons after beating LAFC in the Western Conference Final by a score of 3-1. Yes. That scoreline is real.

Vegas gave the odds at 6:1. The pundits and media members called Seattle ‘underdogs.’ Bobby Warshaw of MLS.com wrote in his pregame column that, ” Seattle can win this game. But first, they need to be scared. Being scared is the right reaction here.” But the Sounders weren’t scared. They came into Banc of California Stadium last night prepared, focused, and stacked with experience.

In the 17th minute of the game, Eduard Atuesta struck one of the most fantastic free-kicks of the season, curling the ball around the right side of the wall and past Stefan Frei for the game’s opening goal.

After LAFC took the lead, the Sounders never dropped their heads or slowed their tempo. The play was focused and direct from the Rave Green before the goal and nothing tactically or emotionally changed afterward. Just 5 minutes later, Raul Ruidiaz leveled the game with a hard-fought finish from just inside the box.

A mere 4 minutes after Ruidiaz got on the score board, Nicolas Lodeiro gave the Sounders a 2-1 lead. The back-line of LAFC gave Nico plenty of space to tee up the shot that snuck past Tyler Miller. The Sounders would go to halftime with a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference Final.

The second half played much like the first. The Sounders allowed LAFC to maintain possession (LAFC would end the game with 69% possession) and were happy to attack on the counter and clog the middle, something Bob Bradley acknowledge in a frustrated manner in his post-game interview.

It was as clear in the second 45 as it was in the first that the Sounders were not playing scared. They were sticking to their well researched and practiced game plan, and honestly, they were having fun. So much so that Lodeiro tried this 12 minutes in to the second half:

In the 64th minute, Ruidiaz broke through with his second goal of the night, sneaking one in near the post and giving the Sounders a 3-1 lead.

While the center-backs, Xavier Arreaga and Kim Ki-Hee, gave Sounders fans everywhere a scare with two incidental contacts in the box, the game ended 3-1 in favor of the Seattle Sounders.

Photo Credit: Seattle Sounders FC

The Sounders await the winner of the Eastern Conference Final. The match between Toronto FC and Atlanta United will air on FS1 at 5 PM PST on Wednesday, October 30th. If the Canadian side should win, Seattle will host the MLS Cup for the first time in club history. If Atlanta wins, they will host their second consecutive MLS Cup at Mercedes Benz Stadium.

Post-Match Take-Aways

LAFC Still Had The Best Regular Season Of All Time

Let’s get one thing straight, the loss last night by LAFC does not take ANYTHING away from the season they had. They are, in my opinion, the greatest regular season team in MLS history. The stats showed that, the style of play showed that, and the individual performances showed that.

Carlos Vela was the most dominant MVP in recent years. If there was a “Most Improved” award, it would be given to Eduard Atuesta and the incredible season he had, pulling strings in the middle of the pitch. LAFC had 3 players voted to the MLS Best XI and probably 2-3 that could have been honorable mentions.

But since the MLS Playoffs were expanded in 2011, only TWO #1 seeds have made MLS Cup, while a #2 seed has made it NINE times. Heavy is the crown of those who win the Supporter’s Shield and while LAFC played an incredibly dominant season on the whole, the Sounders were better than them on the night. And that’s the beauty and chaos of MLS playoffs.

Throwing Beers On Opposing Teams (or anyone) Is Garbage

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Kelvin Kuo

In case the photo isn’t clear and obvious (which neither of those PK claims by LAFC were), this is a photo of Nouhou Tolo kicking away a beer can that was being thrown at him by bitter, lingering LAFC fans. This photo was taken 10 minutes AFTER the final whistle when the Sounders were approaching their away fans to celebrate. This was one of dozens of beers tossed by fans aiming at Sounders players and it cannot be said enough how disgraceful this act is.

Throwing beers, but not cups or cans, to celebrate a goal is one thing. It’s part of the culture and environment of the 3252 and that’s fine. But after play was stopped in the 2018 playoffs because Nick Rimando was being pelted with beer cans during the game, you’d think fans would have learned their lessons. But this happened during the game last night and after the whistle. I’ve been to a game at Banc of California, and those beers are NOT cheap, so at the very least, this seems incredibly wasteful and not financially smart.

But in all seriousness, LAFC fans and team affiliates should take a closer look at these actions. It’s not acceptable, appropriate or a good look for the league as a whole. Please use the beer to soothe your emotions, not physically express them.

Featured image: Seattle Sounders FC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @savage_hart

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Sounders Roll Past RSL to Advance to 3rd Western Conference Final In 4 Years

Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

The 2019 season hasn’t been pretty for the Seattle Sounders. The team has been ravaged by injuries, often lacking an identity on the pitch, and hasn’t had back to back victories since April. But if there’s one thing Seattle fans are learning, it’s that pretty doesn’t matter in the new single elimination playoff format. Win and you move on. And that’s exactly what the Seattle Sounders are doing right now.

Photo Credit: Jill Peck

With a quick four day turn-around after playing 120 minutes last Saturday, the Sounders were fired up Wednesday night in front of a home crowd of nearly 38,000 fans. The first half played to a stalemate with Real Salt Lake maintaining the majority of the possession, but the Sounders managing several quality shots on goal.

When play resumed for the second half, the Sounders were forced to make an early substitution as Roman Torres, who has been a powerful presence since returning from suspension, injured his hamstring in the 49th minute. DP center-back Xavier Arreaga replaced the Panamanian. As the second half progressed, so did Seattle’s intensity, accuracy, and dominance.

After Victor Rodriguez replaced Joevin Jones in the 62nd minute, the substitute made an offensive impact immediately. Only 2 minutes later, Nicolas Lodiero swung in a near-post ball from a corner-kick and found Gustav Svensson’s glorious, Swedish head for a fantastic flick in to the back of Real Salt Lake’s net. The Sounders celebrated feverishly, as did the fans packed into CenturyLink Field.

Photo Credit: Jill Peck

Fifteen minutes later, in the final ten minutes of regulation play, Gustav Svensson played a beautiful ball down the wing to Raul Ruidiaz, who found a streaking Nicolas Lodeiro. Lodeiro hammered in this golazo:

The captain celebrated jubilantly, as did every Sounders player and fan, knowing that with less than 10 minutes left and up 2-0, they were moving on to the Western Conference final for the 3rd time in four seasons.

Frustrations boiled over several minutes later as Everton Luiz picked up a red card for a nasty tackle on Svensson. Players from both teams came together and while Luiz took his time to leave the field, walking through Seattle’s bench and through the towering flags of the ECS, the final whistle blew to secure the Sounders another home playoff victory. Seattle will face the winner of El Traffico, which will be played Thursday, October 24th at 7:30 PM. The Sounders would host LA Galaxy next Tuesday at 7 PM or travel to LAFC on the same date and time, depending on the outcome of the LA derby.

Saying Farewell To A Legend

Photo Credit: Jill Peck

While the Sounders’ win advanced them to the next round of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, there was another historic event that occurred as referee Alan Kelley blew the final whistle last night. Nick Rimando, an absolute legend of both MLS and the position of goalkeeper, concluded his final match. Rimando retires as the league leader in wins, shutouts, saves, games and minutes played. He won two MLS Cups with RSL and featured throughout the years with the US Men’s National Team. And from an outside perspective, he also seems to be an absolute class act human being.

Featured image: Seattle Sounders

All other images:  @jillmpeck on Instagram

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @savage_hart

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Sounders Snag Dramatic OT Win Thanks to Jordan Morris X3

Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

The 2019 MLS Comeback Player of the Year had himself a day on Saturday, October 19th at home in CenturyLink Field. Jordan Morris’ 3 goals lead the Seattle Sounders in their 4-3 overtime win over FC Dallas in Round One of the MLS Cup Playoffs.

Photo Credit: Jill Peck

Raul Ruidiaz opened the scoring in the 18th minute with a long-distance screamer, which is not the textbook Rui goal Sounders fans are used to. The damp fans erupted all around CenturyLink as the golazo slid past FC Dallas goalkeeper, Jesse Gonzalez. Morris then doubled the lead less than 5 minutes later from a well-placed Joevin Jones assist.

Within grasping distance of the halftime whistle, FC Dallas got on the score sheet when an unmarked Reggie Cannon slotted a ball past Stefan Frei. Matt Hedges thunderously headed in Dallas’ second goal in the 64th minute, eliminating the Sounders’ 2 goal lead.

Photo Credit: Jill Peck

Jordan Morris came to the rescue thanks to a Gustav Svensson flick from a Nicolas Lodeiro corner, but the lead would again be dashed by Bryan Acosta just minutes from the final whistle. As the game entered extra-time, it was Morris again for the Rave Green in the 113th minute. Morris’ goal was his third on the day and the final of the game, giving the Sounders a 4-3 victory and helping the team one step further in the playoff chase.

Photo Credit: Jill Peck
Photo Credit: Jill Peck

The Sounders take on their longtime Western Conference (and playoff) rivals, Real Salt Lake, Wednesday October 23rd at 7 PM at CenturyLink Field. RSL come to Seattle after a dramatic win over the Portland Timbers, robbing Cascadia fans everywhere of a playoff rematch from 2018.

Other Highlights

FC Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez was fined by MLS DisCo following Saturday’s game for two separate incidents. The first was hands to the face on Nouhou Tolo, which occured a good 30 yards out of Gonzalez’ own goal.

Following this incident, when Gonzalez’ hand was swatted away by Nouhou, Gonzalez fell to the ground in a heap. MLS also fined him for this incident citing simulation/embellishment.

Besides Jordan Morris (and Stefan Frie, who had an amazing shot-stopping performance), the fan hero of the game was this gentleman who “assisted” in running the clock out in OT.

In typical Seattle playoff fashion, this game was dramatic, rainy and a full display of tough kids.

All images:  @jillmpeck on Instagram

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @savage_hart

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Seattle Sounders claim no. 2 seed in West with 1-0 win over Minnesota

Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

After an incredibly unpredictable run of games, the Seattle Sounders grabbed 3 points at home against Western Conference rival, Minnesota United, to lock up the 2nd spot in the West and a home road in playoffs.

Photo Credit: Jill Peck

In their fan appreciation match, the Sounders honored the return of their longtime captain, Osvaldo Alonso, prior to kickoff and the fans showed Ozzie nothing but love. General Manager Adrian Hanauer presented Ozzie with a framed copy of the recently elected Sounders Best XI, which featured Ozzie in the midfield. The Honey Badger gave the entire stadium a clap and wave before heading in to the opposing team’s locker room, a feeling that must have felt odd for the man who spent nearly a decade in Rave Green.

Photo Credit: Jill Peck

In front of nearly 48,000 home fans, the Sounders pushed the attack from the opening whistle. Jordan Morris and Joevin Jones provided plenty of pressure from the wings, while Nicolas Lodeiro was a welcome return to the middle of the pitch after missing the previous two games from injury. Due to another red card suspension, Xavier Arreaga missed the match and was replaced by Roman Torres, who had only returned to eligibility in the 18 man lineup the previous weekend after serving a 10 match ban for substance violation.

The Panamanian made a thunderous return to starting form in the 29th minute. After a corner kick played in fell outside the box, Joevin Jones sent in a vicious cross that found the head of Roman Torres perfectly. This goal was Torres first in Rave Green and couldn’t have come at a more dire time for the Sounders.

Photo Credit: Jill Peck

The Sounders managed to generate a few more offensive chances and also held off the Minnesota United attack as the match ended 1-0 in favor of Seattle. While the result was probably not what Osvaldo Alonso would have hoped for his return to CenturyLink, the Sounders and their fans relished the 3 points, which secured them the second seed in the Western Conference.

Up next the Sounders will face FC Dallas, who had a disgustingly dominant 6-0 win on Decision Day vs Sporting Kansas City, at CenturyLink on Saturday October 19th with a kickoff of 12:30 PM.

Playoff Preview

The biggest concern to the Seattle Sounders over the back half of the season has been health and squad depth. The Sounders reached deep in to their reserves for many games this season and dropped more points at home than ever before. However, the Sounders were able to maintain the third longest playoff appearance streak in American professional sports (behind the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Antonio Spurs, respectively) by securing their 11th straight playoff appearance.

Photo Credit: Jill Peck

While it appears Victor Rodriquez is sidelined by yet another injury, Seattle is entering playoffs with nearly their entire squad healthy and ready for battle. Both Raul Ruidiaz and Nicolas Lodeiro are questionable to be at full health after recent injuries, but Gustav Svennson, Kelvin Leerdam and Brad Smith are all back to full health after missing long individual stretches. Cristian Roldan and Jordan Morris are as hungry as ever, the former having been named to Opta’s MLS Best XI. In this final game, Joevin Jones seemed to show flashes of his former self as well.

While the road to MLS Cup is not a simple one for the Seattle Sounders, they just might be hitting their stride at the right time.

All images:  @jillmpeck on Instagram

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @savage_hart

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Sounders Rule as Cascadia Cup Champions after 2-1 Win at Portland

Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

This is the season of 2-1 defeats for both the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers. The two teams traded defeats at home this year with Portland taking a 2-1 victory in Seattle and the Sounders grabbing a 2-1 win at Providence Park on Friday. Seattle hoisted the Cascadia Cup trophy in back-to-back seasons after the victory and, most importantly, grabbed a much needed 3 points to remain in playoff contention.

The first half contained a few moments of offensive and defensive highlights from both teams, but nothing as impactful as the show both teams’ supporters groups displayed. For the first 33 minutes of the match, neither supporter group waved flags, sang songs, yelled chants or performed their respective duties as the Timbers Army or Emerald City Supporters and Gorilla FC.

The stadium, usually tightly packed with sound, was still for those 33 minutes. The television commentators had a tough time navigating the silence and, honestly, the players seemed put off as well. However, both teams came together at the start of the match to show support for the message the fans were intending to send to the league. The picture of both teams together is one that I never thought I’d see, but the photo sends a powerful message that two utter rivals can put their dislike aside for the message of anti-fascism and anti-racist.

Photo cred: Jill Peck
Photo cred: Jill Peck

MLS Commissioner, Dan Garber, was in attendance for the match, which may or may not have impacted the display shown by both groups. However, the response the league has shown towards the anti-fascist and anti-racist cry from supporters groups across MLS has been disappointing. A silent protest by two of the most prominent, most vocal supporters groups in what has consistently been voted and considered the biggest rivalry in MLS sends a strong message that hate will not be tolerated in this beautiful game, whether in the stands or on the field.

The match itself had the usual amount of ticky-tack fouls, offensive aggression, and defensive prowess this rivalry has become known for. The Sounders opened the scoring in the 22nd minute after Cristian Roldan thundered home a rebounded deflection from a Jordan Morris cross. Morris spent most of the game running circles around Portland’s Zarek Valentin down the left wing.

Photo cred: Jill Peck

The Timbers were quick to push back after the opening goal, testing centerback-pairing Xavier Arreaga and Kim Kee-hee with many offensive chances. Kee-hee and Arreaga stood strong, the latter committing so hard to the proper shirt tuck that fans are slowly starting to embrace the trend after his stellar showing against the powerful Portland offense.

Photo cred: Jill Peck

Although Jordan Morris appeared to pick up a knock late in the first half and seemed unlikely to continue, he and the rest of the Rave Green came out blazing in the second 45. In the 47th minute, Morris again drove past Valentin and sent a pin-point pass in to Raul Ruidiaz, who converted from 8 yards out.

Photo cred: Jill Peck

The Timbers pulled one back in the 54th minute when Diego Valeri’s free-kick took a deflection in to the back of Seattle’s net. The rest of the game showed chances for both teams, but after the full 90 minutes and SEVEN additional stoppage time minutes, the score held 2-1 in favor of Seattle. With the Western Conference standings tighter than they’ve been in years, every point counts and these were 3 huge points Seattle desperately needed to take home with them.

Photo cred: Jill Peck

The Sounders will face Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the LA Galaxy at home next Sunday at 3:30 PM for another important Western Conference battle. The Sounders are hoping to snap a home winless streak, the longest in franchise history, against the high-powered, Carson-based LA team. It has been reported that both Brad Smith and Victor Rodriguez should be available for selection, providing Seattle with a true first team selection since May.

Featured image: @SoundersFC 

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @savage_hart

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Seattle Love

Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

I’ve been quiet in my game summaries since Seattle lost at home to Portland on July 21st. After that game, I wrote an article that generally said that losing to Portland wasn’t the end of the world, but the Sounders were not alright. After squeaking out a 1-0 victory on the road in Houston the following week, nothing has gone right for the Sounders in every match that’s followed.

Image Credit: Jill Peck

In the month of August, the Sounders are winless and have gathered only 2 points in 4 games. The Rave Green lost 3-2 at home to Sporting Kansas City, who at the time were second from the bottom in the Western Conference. While I have a great deal of respect for Kansas City as a club, that was a game the Sounders should have taken 3 points from. But they let in 3 goals at home, an occurrence fans are starting to see often, and couldn’t capitalize on their own offensive chances.

Photo Credit: Jill Peck

Then Bruce Arena and the New England Revolution came to town. While New England is on an upswing, this too should have been a sunny Sunday afternoon for Sounders fans. A can of Rueben’s brew, some boom-boom-clap, 3 points and back to business. But instead, the game tied 3-3. Six goals in the back of the Sounders’ net in 2 games. And then they took to the road.

A double game week on the road is never an easy task, especially for a squad absolutely gutted by injuries like the Sounders are. But taking another 3 goal beat down in Salt Lake and not even recording a shot on goal is embarrassing. It’s uncharacteristic. As Brian Schmetzer has said recently to the media, it is not the Sounders way of play. So again, the Rave Green marched on to visit another Western Conference foe: the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Down in Carson, the Sounders lineup was still missing 3 to 4 key starters and facing a Team Zlatan that was shining with fancy new TAM/GAM players (that would be DPs anywhere else in the league, mind you). But the Galaxy gave the Sounders a much needed break in the 6th minute when Daniel Steres was red carded for DOGSO (denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity). This should have been a golden opportunity for the Sounders. A man advantage, even against a team led by Zlatan, should basically guarantee 3 points.

But much to the dismay of commentator Taylor Twellman and Sounders fans alike, Seattle did not high-press the opportunity. Instead, they sat back and did not alter their game plan in the slightest. In the 42nd minute, Raul Ruidiaz finally put the ball in the back of the net, but the man known as Zlatan leveled the score only 3 minutes later. The Sounders midfield gave Sebastian Llletget plenty of time and space to send in a lofted ball to the most towering Ferrari in all of MLS and this happened:

Zlatan would go on to draw his own penalty and convert from the spot in the 65th minute. Then, in the 82nd, David Bingham decided to play as recklessly as the Sounders defense has for the past month and a half and do this:

Own Goal struck once again and became the only reason the Sounders, who were up a man from the 6th minute, took a point home from LA. Seattle now sit in 5th place and face Portland away next week and the Galaxy back home at CenturyLink the following week. No slouch of a schedule on the back of what is nearly the worst run in Sounders history. However, the worst run in Sounders history ended with the firing of Sigi Schmidt in 2016. Falling in the standings, letting in 11 goals in 4 games and unable to keep a healthy squad has left Sounders fans wondering what in the world can turn things around.

So… what is going on in Seattle?

Well, the first thing to note is Chad Marshall retired. While I realize that happened at the end of May, it’s impact has been felt in more than just the on-field play. Marshall was the leader on the field even without the captain’s armband. Before him, Ozzie Alonso kept things in check. With both of these impactful leaders departing this season, the squad is looking around (literally) for someone to lead and finding no one.

The second note is our signings have been a bust. Joevin Jones has returned a shell of the defender he led the league in assists in 2016. His play has been inconsistent at best. Xavier Arreaga, the DP center back Seattle vastly overpaid, has shown no chemistry alongside Kim Kee Hee and made several mistakes that have lead to scoring opportunities for opponents.

Before the summer transfer window closed, former MLS player Luis Silva and Argentine Emanual Cecchini were brought in. Cecchini has been hyped to fans as a CDM to fill the Ozzie void, while Luis Silva is simply a more seasoned Harry Shipp-style winger. Neither of these signings fit the most pressing needs of the Sounders and General Manager Garth Lagerway continued to state to the media that he “likes our squad the way it is.”

Injuries have been the third note of issue for the Sounders. Brad Smith and Kelvin Leerdam have missed a combined 11 games as of late. Victor Rodriguez has been out due to injury for 13 games so far this season, Raul Ruidiaz has only played 6 of the last 11 league games and Gustav Svensson has only logged 4 full 90 minute games since week 9 of the season. Oh, and Roman Torres went and got himself suspended for 10 games for taking some sort of illegal vitamin.

The final note of issue facing the Sounders has been the gradual decline and recent exit of co-owner Joe Roth. While the Sounders front office recently introduced 11 Seattle-based families (including Macklemore and his wife and Ciara and Russel Wilson) to take over Roth’s majority share, fans were quick to speculate that Roth’s lack of recent involvement and exit from the club were most likely a key factor in the lack of major signings lately.

Sounders fans tend to have two pools of thought: Rave Green ‘Til I Die or What Have You Done For Me Lately? The former will continue to support, cheer and love the Sounders. They are the first to point out that the last time Seattle went on a run like this, they won MLS Cup. The latter demand a DP signing when things get rough, sell their tickets after what was the worst 4 game home stretch in Sounders history and insist that Brian Schmetzer isn’t the man to lead this team.

Both groups come from a place of Seattle Love. They love a team that plays hard and with passion for the full 90. They know the history of a team that has tallied the second most points in all of MLS for the past decade. For both of these groups it isn’t necessarily MLS Cup or bust, but play hard. Win games you should win. Score goals and try to keep less than a dozen out of your net in a 2 week stretch of games. But for many of the reasons I listed previously, we’ve all been greatly disappointed.

Featured image: @SoundersFC on Twitter

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Sounders drop points at home… again.

Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

It was another tough home match on Sunday night as the Rave Green dropped another important 3 points at home, this time to Sporting Kansas City. This was the second consecutive loss at CenturyLink Field, which has not happened in over three years. The Sounders now sit in a 3-way tie with San Jose and Minnesota for second place in the Western Conference.

Felipe Gutierrez struck first for Sporting in the 12th minute, silencing the nearly 38,000 fans in attendance. The Chilean would add his second goal only 21 minutes later after VAR determined Nouhou made a penalty-awarding tackle on Gerso Fernandez.

Although down 2-0 after 45 minutes, the Sounders still had some fight in them during the second half. Jordan Morris got Seattle back in the game with a beautiful strike just moments after kickoff. Nico Lodeiro picked up is 10th assist of the season, making this the third consecutive season the captain has tallied 10 or more assists.

In the 58th minute Erik Hurtado gave Sporting a 2 goal lead once again, recording his first goal of 2019 in his first start for SKC. The former Whitecap found his way through the Sounders’ back line after a pinpoint pass from Gerso Fernandez.

Once again, Jordan Morris made things interesting in the 82nd minute and converted his 7th goal of the season to make the game 3-2. While the Seattle native had several more opportunities through the rest of the game, neither Morris or his teammates could find another goal and the match finished with Sporting Kansas City leaving Seattle with 3 points.

While the loss was tough and not at all pretty, there were some bright spots to the disappointment. Jordan Morris notched his 7th goal of the season and scored in back to back games for the first time since September 2016. It was also his third multi-goal game as a Sounder. Morris is now the second leading goal scorer of the season.

However, the positive marks basically end there. While the last time the Sounders dropped 2 home games they eventually won the MLS Cup, these losses don’t indicate a light (or trophy) at the end of the tunnel. The entire team looked flat and uninspired against the Timbers two weeks ago and the same could be said of the play last night.

Joevin Jones, who is filling in for the continuously injured Victor Rodriguez, looked out of place on the left wing for most of the match. He misplayed several passes inside the box and attempted to play down the middle through Lodeiro.

Nouhou, who was starting for the injured Brad Smith, made defensive error after error and despite the speed and agility both players possess, he and Jones could not get any chemistry going down that left wing.

While Jordan Morris single-handedly kept the Sounders in the game, he made his second consecutive start for Raul Ruidiaz, who is still in concussion protocol.

Gustav Svensson missed another match with a hamstring injury and was replaced by 16 year old Danny Leyva. Kelvin Leerdem was in the 18, but did not feature and Saad Abdul-Salaam started at right back in Leerdem’s place.

Xavier Arreaga started at centerback for the suspended Roman Torres and played alongside Kim Keehee. However, Kim did not display the comfort and partnership next to Arreaga that he has always had with Marshall and Torres.

The injuries and lineup adjustments are officially a concern for the Sounders. While General Manager Garth Lagerway has continually been quoted as saying he “likes our current squad”, the recent record and dropping of points indicates some reinforcements need to be brought in… and soon.

Featured image: @SoundersFC

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Sounders Snap Home Unbeaten Streak to Rival Timbers and its Not Okay


Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

Rivalry games are one of the most powerful aspects of competitive sports. As an avid sports fan, these are the games I circle on my calendar as soon as schedules are released. Manchester United vs Liverpool has been one of the biggest rivalries in English football dating back to their first meeting in 1894. USC football vs UCLA football has been a blood bath since 1929. Seattle Seahawks vs San Francisco 49ers has been a turning-tables rivalry for decades. These are the games I live for every year as a fan.

Atop my rivalry list is Seattle vs Portland. Even in the USL days, these teams did not like each other. The rivalry has always, from a Seattle native’s perspective, felt like a little brother vs big brother rivalry. The younger brother of Portland has always wanted to climb outside of the shadow of big brother, Seattle, and has done so successfully a time or two.

But statistically, the Sounders dominate this rivalry. The pure amount of hardware displayed in the pregame tifo shows that. But on Sunday, as they did in the playoffs last season, the Timbers outplayed and conquered the Sounders.

Image: Jill Peck

Both teams came out firing and aggressive. There was a push and a pace to this game not typical of either team and each team’s DP forward put on a show. It was chippy, aggressive and the epitome of what this rivalry game is year after year.

After a back and forth battle of offensive chances, Portland opened the scoring in the 21st minute of play. Jorge Moreira rattled a long-distance shot off the crossbar that fell oh-so-kindly at the feet of Brian Fernández, who placed the ball swiftly in the back of the net.

Not to be outdone by his Argentinian rival, Raul Ruidíaz, the Peruvian, equaled the scoreline in the 50th minute. Roman Torres sent a long ball up to Ruidíaz, who was able to round the Timbers goalkeeper and slot in the equalizer, making the contest 1-1.

Image: Jill Peck

Fernández would tally his second of the night only 1 minute later, finalizing the score at 2-1 to the away side. The stadium fell completely silent with only the roars of the Timbers Army’s cheers pouring through the air of defeat that covered CenturyLink.

Two Strikers on a Hot Streak

Brian Fernández and Raul Ruidíaz are the latest names on the list of powerful strikers to appear in this heated rivalry. Both strikers come in on an undeniable hot streak of consistent scoring. Signed only in May, Fernández had scored 6 goals in 6 starts heading into Sunday’s rivalry match. Similarly, Ruidíaz had notched 8 goals in 10 starts on the season.

The list of influential strikers in this rivalry is top class: Clint Dempsey (SEA), Fernando Adi (POR), Ryan Johnson (POR) and Freddy Montero (SEA), to name a few, had massive performances in the history of this rivalry. But if both Fernández and Ruidíaz stick with their respective clubs for the long haul, it could raise the rivalry (and their respective teams) to an unparalleled level in MLS.

Featured image:@jillmpeck on Instagram

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