To Be A Seattle Sounders Fan

Seattle Sounders Key Contributor

By Kaitlyn O’Rourke

To be a Seattle Sounders fan means to love the team that was born in 1974, to love the boys in famous green, to be “full of hopes an’ full of fears, full of laughter, full of tears, full of dreams to last the years…”

It means to be the “rowdiest” fans in the league, to wear bright green and blue. But most of all, it means to love the team with all your heart. Even if you can’t march to the match, or sing and chant for 90 minutes with 45,000 others.

Even if you can’t lose your voice or follow them to every corner of the country and Canada, if you can only get to a few games per year. To be a Sounders fan means to carry the stories and memories of the team with you. It means to be eternal blue, forever green.

The Memories

The following list is a collection of anecdotes from Sounders fans (and Cristian Roldan’s family) about their favorite moments as a fan. (Promise they aren’t all the MLS Cup.)

~”When Marco Pappa volleyed the ball over Jaime Pinedo‘s head, to score our second goal, and claimed the Supporter’s shield.” –Jesse Lopez (Oct. 2014)

~”A friend brought me to a bar to watch a game. It was there I became a part of the ECS.” –Danny DiRe

~”Loved  traveling to our first away match in Vancouver, and seeing the players celebrate with us in ECS.” –Sandra Azevedo

~”My favorite Sounders moment of all-time was Kasey Keller’s last game. When Kasey Keller made that save in [h]is last game against the Earthquakes that put a huge smile on my face.” – Travis Hartman

~”During my first boom boom clap was the first moment I realized I was free of my emotionally abusive husband and I could live a life of my choice. For that, I will be a Sounder till I die.” –Kyla Lanham

~”Meeting the guys at the airport after my sister in law told me they were on her flight.  We rushed to SeaTac, and were the only fans there. They were so incredibly gracious! My kids were stunned into mutes when Jordan started talking to us, and I admittedly became tongue tied. Ha!” –Trish Mathias

~”I’ll say watching the MLS Cup final in my dorm and having non soccer fans and Timbers fans cheering with me when Torres scored.” –Nelson Matthew

~”My first time going to see a match at CenturyLink. Having moved to Seattle, we had dinner downtown before hand and were amazed at how many families had on Sounders gear heading to the match. It felt like NFL-level support, and the stadium experience lived up to the hype.” –Nathan Reynolds

~”I went to a Sounders game at the Kingdome, and they had 58,000 fans there.” –Pat O’Rourke (Sounders vs Cosmos on April 9th, 1976)

~”We were lucky enough to be in Toronto for the Cup Final. I was wearing a Kilt, because we win when I wear it, so I was borderline Hypothermic. I will never forget the sudden adrenaline of Torres’ PK and how warm I felt for the next hour standing there cheering our champions. I doubt I’ll ever top that Sounders memory.” –Chad Harris

~ “His first MLS goal” – Cristian Roldan’s cousin

~”My favorite moment was when Sounders played Portland at home last year. I thought it was an outstanding performance by the team and it put Cristian Roldan on the map.” –Alexander Roldan (Cristian Roldan’s brother)

~“One of her favorite Sounders moments was when Jordan scored against the LA Galaxy on the 25th September last year. We were still living in Seattle then, living at the Ronald McDonald House and she watched the game with us at the house. It wasn’t so long after Jordan and Cristian had been to visit us at the Ronald McDonald House and played with Erin. She was really happy that they beat LA Galaxy!! Also she said winning the MLS Cup was another of her favourite moments. Also meeting Jordan, Cristian, Tyler and Jordan Schweitzer when they visited her quite a few times at Ronald McDonald House and played football and generally fooled around!” –Erin Cross’s mom, talking about her daughter’s favorite Sounders memories.

~“When my friend Kaitlyn and I were the only 2 Sounders fans in this one area at an away game but we were louder than all the fans in the section, well, she was louder.” -Elizabeth (“oh yeah and Jordan Morris scored and they won”)

My memory? The MLS Cup. I won’t say how much I cried or for how long. It’s embarrassing.

The entire game I felt like I would explode. I kept thinking “the longer this goes on, the better our chances are”. Somewhere I read something that said “We get 30 minutes of bonus soccer because someone upstairs doesn’t care about your blood pressure.” And that’s how I felt. I was in my basement, surrounded by a light up Rainier beer sign and blimp, and a Washington State shaped table, and my dad, who had told me about 50,000 Sounders fans at the Kingdome.

I must have jumped on and off my couch 1300 times in the 10 minute shootout. I remember every thought I had. On the Sounders 5th kick, it hit me, if Nico Lodeiro missed, we would lose. At that point, I couldn’t imagine experiencing that. I didn’t have to. The Toronto player who went next hit the crossbar. That’s when the first tear came.

When I saw Roman Torres walk up, all I could think about was if he would shoot it over the bar. He didn’t. We had won. All I could think about was that We Had Won The Cup. My hands were shaking. I had such a big lump in my throat, I was crying so much, that when I went up to see my mom, all I could say is “We Won”.

I stopped crying at one point during the press conference only to hear Brian Schmetzer choke up. I had prayed for this moment (and I don’t normally pray). I had made bets on milkshakes (and never lost one). I had more pictures of grown men crying on my phone than I am proud of. I had imagined it 1000 different ways, but now I can’t imagine it any other way.

To be a Sounders fan is what all of these people said. It’s to be at away games, to meet the guys, to do the boom-boom-clap, to carry the memories, it’s to fall in love with the team. To be eternal blue, forever green.

Featured image courtesy: Gilman Park

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Last Goal Wins

Official Portland Timbers Reporter

By Sheba Rawson @shebainpdx

Saturday, March 25: 3-2 Loss

I will always have a special place in my heart for Columbus. Aside from the obvious in 2015, there was this moment (which made me love Savannah forever, she is an awesome human) and this lovable yet incomprehensible video from 2013 (no, please do not ask me to explain it; I cannot). Since we HAD to end the winning streak somewhere, it might as well have been at Mapfre.

The Good

I was happy to see Dairon Asprilla get the start. He has had a second chance and a new beginning with us this year after last season’s loan to Colombian side Millonarios, and this weekend he made it count. In the fourth minute, in his first start for us this year, Asprilla had a beautiful right-footed cross to the left of the net. I was worried about Asprilla’s ability to fill in for Darlington Nagbe when it came to possession and ball handling, but I looked forward to his more aggressive stance when it came to shooting.

Fanendo Adi worked his usual magic, scoring in stoppage time at the half to pull the Portland Timbers level at 2-2, tying the Timbers all-time scoring record in the process. I watched the replay, and I can only describe what Columbus Crew did in response to Adi as “the campfire defense,” something I would argue that our back line was notorious for carrying out in 2011 and 2012. The Campfire Defense occurs when three or four guys in the back more or less make a circle around the opposing player, much like huddling around a campfire, and watch the ball in fascination as the offensive player shoots and scores; and that’s pretty much what Columbus did for Adi’s goal.

The Bad

Speaking of Campfire Defense: we were hurting in the middle and the back in this game. Ultimately we got burned because Columbus REALLY owned us in the middle. We had two key players out for international duty (Nagbe for the US and Davíd Guzmán for Costa Rica), and it showed. Without Nagbe for possession and Guzman for the 50/50 balls, when Columbus threw everything and the kitchen sink at us in the middle of the field, we were unable to respond (a little over 35% possession, which is definitely NOT okay with Porter).

And once again, with a back line consisting of mostly second stringers, our defensive unit did not handle the pressure well. While we were always in the hunt, our back line did not react well in general. We got burned in the 11th minute by Justin Meram cleaning up after a corner kick for Columbus’s first score; Ola Kamara  took advantage of some flat-footed defense at the 19th minute to chip Jake Gleeson; and the final goal by Niko Hansen in at the 84 minute mark ultimately did us in. All three of these goals made our defensive unit look disorganized, to say the least.

Other Stuff

Once again, the Timbers Army on the road represented well. This is the second away game that our road support has purchased pretty much every ticket available in the away supporter allocation. Win, lose, or draw, our away support makes me proud.

I’m also proud of our work off the field. Locally, supporters in Portland and Beaverton put in shifts at the Oregon Food Bank on game day, packing food for the hungry before heading out for watch parties. Team, Town, TA is still in full effect. Well done, folks.

On the field, our strength this year will be the counterattack, the control in the middle, and our attacking line in general; and our biggest challenge will be our, er, less than stellar back line. As I’ve said before, our season will probably best be summed up as “Last Goal Wins.” It’s been true so far, for better or for worse.  See you all next week at home as we battle New England Revolution on Sunday.

Featured image Fenando Adi to tie game courtesy: USA TODAY Sports Images

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Skroman Prijedlog

Official New York City FC Reporter

By C.M. Brandon @lukacharms

It’s international break! The best time of the year!

I wish I could tell you about how the New York City FC players fared on their respective national teams, but to be entirely honest? I wasn’t paying attention (well, beyond Costa Rica’s walloping at the hands of Mexico). Chalk most of that up to being sick as a dog, but chalk a good part up to the fact that my international breaks revolve around one major thing: Obsessively tracking the Croatia national team.

My heart beats strongest and hardest for Vatreni. I love them in the way one can only love the homeland of their blood. In May, I’ll travel with my girlfriend to watch them play a friendly against Mexico here in the States, and I only think about that match… oh, I don’t know, five thousand times a day. They’re number one in my head and heart. They mean the world to me.

Croatian players are so often my bargaining chip when talking to other football fans. I can find common ground with Inter Milan fans by singing the praises of their current Croatian wonder duo, Ivan Perišić and Marcelo Brozović. I can break up a heated argument with any culé by asking how they feel about Ivan Rakitić. No matter where club loyalties lie, the most important thing to me is that everyone adores the men who represent my country.

That’s not asking much, right?

Unfortunately, Croatians are all but unknown in MLS. Let me break it down real quick:

Vedran Ćorluka courtesy: Getty Images

Four Croatians have played in MLS. Four! That’s enough to count on one hand, and you’re still left with enough room to give a big thumbs down. Scorin’ Goran Hunjak played for the defunct Tampa Bay Mutiny and pre-Sporting KC Kansas City Wizards in the mid-90s. Josip Mikulić spent one uneventful season with Chicago Fire in 2011; Marko Marić was also there, but only made one appearance before being sidelined with injury. Leonard Bisaku saw out his career at Columbus Crew, though I’d challenge you to find a single soul who remembers him.

And… that’s it. It’s also worth noting none of the players above made appearances for the senior national team.

The biggest Croatian name to make it to America is Niko Kranjčar. A former midfielder for Vatreni, Niko found himself wandering in a bit of a clubless haze after Dynamo Kyiv released him in 2016. He somehow found himself training with the New York Cosmos to keep up his fitness, and signed for them in March when one of their foreign player spots opened up. He made seven appearances, scored one goal, and left for the Scottish Premiership three months later to join the Rangers.

Thrilling.

That brings me to my point. MLS gods that be, if you’re listening, I have a modest proposal:

BRING THESE PLAYERS TO MLS (PREFERABLY NYCFC BUT I’M NOT PICKY) NOW, THANK ME LATER!

  • Ivica Olić — 37 years old, forward, currently with 1860 Munich. I know, I see you balking at his age, but hear me out. Ivica has the honor of being in the top five all-time goal scorers for Vatreni, and even though he’s on the wrong side of thirty, he’s still finding the net in Germany. At one point he was rumored to be linked to the Sounders, so… You know what to do. Make it happen.
  • Eduardo da Silva — 34 years old, forward, currently with Atlético Paranaense. Speaking of all-time goal scorers! Dudu is our #2 man and was instrumental in many of Vatreni’s successes over the years. You need goals? Great. Sign him. Please. I miss watching him play.
  • Vedran Ćorluka — 31 years old, defender, currently with Lokomotiv Moscow. AKA Charlie, AKA that guy whose head kept bleeding during Euro 2016 so they made him wear a cute little water polo cap. Charlie is your prototypical bulky defender and he does well anywhere on the back line. If certain clubs who need some extra beef in their defense are looking for options, well… You’re welcome.
  • Nikola Kalinić — 29 years old, striker, currently with Fiorentina. Arguably the best striker you’ve never heard of. Nikola is on fire with both club and country. He’s a joy to watch play, and he lives up to his price tag based on goal tally alone. Maybe you remember him from embarrassing Spain during the Euros last summer? He’s cheeky. Get him over here right now.
  • Alen Halilović — 20 years old, attacking midfielder, currently with Las Palmas. Look, they’re not all old! Alen is young and talented and, well, major European leagues aren’t working out super well for him so far, so why not? Think of it as a swap deal. If Christian Pulisic can play for the USMNT, Alen can play in MLS. (Related, don’t talk to me about Pulisic until he learns how to pronounce his own surname.)
  • Anybody but Mario Mandžukić. I mean it. Anybody else. I feel very strongly that Mandzo was meant to retire at Juventus, and MLS gods, if you take that from me, you will rue the day.

I mean, I could go on. The list is approximately endless. This is my niche, this is the hill I die on.

Your move, MLS.

Featured image courtesy: Croatia National Team

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Tie Games Are Our Specialty

Official Real Salt Lake Reporter

By Ambrosia Tonkovich @heyambrosia

Saturday, March 25: 0-0 draw

With interim coach Daryl Shore taking over after Jeff Cassar was fired after three games this season (and no games won since August last season) Real Salt Lake takes it on the road to New York to take on the Red Bulls, finishing with a 0-0 draw and their first road shutout since April 2015 against SportingKC.

RSL had 9 players out on either injury (Horst/Glad/Barrett –knee, Plata – hip, Beltran – back, Allen – quad), international duty (Rimando for USA & Rusnak for Slovakia) or from suspension (Beckerman). For RSL fans this game was a nail biter before it even began.

While we came out strong in the first half, we could not complete passes (5 players on the team had less than 50% pass success rate), nor could we seem to hit the back of the net, although we did have a fantastic debut from Matt VanOekel who had 3 very big saves during this game and became Man of the Match.

Our defense stepped up as well, with Aaron Maund clearing the ball 13 times alone (returning for the first time since August of last year, being out due to injury), and with a couple of great tackles by Chris Schuler. All in all we had 5 shots on target though they fell short of the back of the net, and we continued our card collecting with 5 cards collected this game from referee Chris Penso. Yellow cards were given to the following: Luke Mulholland (57’), Luis Silva (66’), Sunny (68’), Aaron Maund (70’), and Ricardo Velazco (87’).

We did see another debut for MLS Homegrown players, with Jose Hernandez coming in at the 73rd minute of play. This makes him the 7th player to make a club debut in the first 4 games of the season for RSL. With our team looking more and more to homegrown academy players, we are starting to play younger players, but also ones who have proven themselves over the years as they’ve worked their way up to RSL status.

All in all, I think RSL fans were expecting worse with the number of players out and the odds stacked against us. We retained a tight defense, even when things seemed to get a little hot headed up in front while scrambling for the ball between our own players. We did, however, need to work on our possession with us only having a 36% possession for the entire game.

Takeaways:

Brooks Lennon is FAST. Freaky fast. He and Saucedo showed their talents tonight with fancy footwork and constantly keeping up with a very talented Bradley Wright-Phillips. When Plata comes back he is going to have some very talented and fast teammates to work with.

-Matt VanOekel came out strong for his first RSL debut. He did our team, and Nick Rimando proud.

-We still dominate when it comes to collecting cards. This is not a good thing.

-Fans are getting tired of saying “At least we didn’t lose?” to people after games. We need to pull together against Minnesota United who have let 18 goals past them in the first four games of this season alone.

Featured image courtesy: Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports

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International Breaks are No Fun

Official Atlanta United FC Reporter

By Robyn Saghini @robynsaghini

March 25: International Break

It’s week 4 of the 2017 MLS season and Atlanta United FC isn’t playing. *sad face*

Lucky for us here in Atlanta, there was an event to help us quell our thirst for soccer while a handful of our boys are on international duty. ATLSoccerCon held its second annual event today on the west side of town. Set up in an indoor soccer facility, there were supporter groups of ATLUTD and international teams, vendors, Subbueto games, and some jersey, scarf and memorabilia collections. Outside, there was the ever-present beer trailer, a food truck, and a giant foot darts game.

ATLSoccerCon was started by a few of my friends who are massive soccer nerds – and I mean that in the best way. Austin Long is a self-labeled kit nerd and regular podcaster, both on his own (check out his Soccer Nomad podcast here) and also hosts the Terminus Legion podcast (you can find those on Soundcloud and iTunes). Jason Longshore is an editor for the Atlanta United blog, Dirty South Soccer (my favorite source of ATLUTD news), runs soccerdownhere.com, and also happens to be a commentator for the ATLUTD game broadcasts on local radio station 92.9 The Game. He kind of knows his stuff, especially when it comes to Atlanta soccer. JR Francis is a marketing and design guru – he’s the designer behind the Terminus Legion logo (along with tons of other designs). He’s also got the most massive collection of jerseys I’ve ever seen.

A good time was had by all in attendance at ATLSoccerCon and it took our minds off of the injury that Josef Martinez suffered during Thursday night’s Venezuela – Peru game, if only for a few hours.

From what we hear, it’s a left thigh injury. He came back to Atlanta and was scheduled for an MRI today, but no word as of yet what the results were or whether he will be available for Friday night’s game at Seattle. At least we know he’ll be around for a while, though, since ATLUTD  finalized the permanent transfer of Martinez from Torino this Tuesday. Oh, and Martinez also won MLS Goal of the Week for this shot in the ATLvCHI game:

Meanwhile, Miguel Almiron played for Paraguay, also on Thursday, in a 2-2 draw with Ecuador, Carlos Carmona stayed on the bench for Chile’s 1-0 loss to Argentina, and Kenwyne Jones played 84 minutes for Trinidad & Tobago in their 1-0 win over Panama.

In other news, this article by Doug Roberson of the AJC made my day, specifically this quote from ATLUTD’s rookie sensation, Julian Gressel: “On the field, I remember in the second half, you are on the field and you hear the main supporter’s section going ‘Atlanta’ and the rest of the stadium go ‘United.’ I was on the field and I had to take a deep breath for a second and regroup to focus on the game again. It was breath-taking. It was unreal.” The new hashtag #GresselMania is also a thing here in Atlanta, much to the amusement of some of Gressel’s teammates.

ATLUTD has a four (FOUR!!) game road trip coming up this month, mostly to accommodate for Georgia Tech’s spring football games. Our first major test of the season will be next Friday’s game at Seattle, especially now with Clint Dempsey appearing to be in top form after the USMNT’s rather decisive victory over Honduras last night. Holy cow.

In the meantime, since ATLUTD aren’t playing tonight, I’m getting my live soccer fix by watching some former Atlanta Silverbacks players (Poku and Chavez for Miami and Paul Black for NCFC) in the North Carolina FC vs Miami FC NASL season opener. Yay for random cable networks I never knew existed! The game just ended as a 1-1 draw. Good to see those boys in action again this year!

See y’all next weekend when hopefully I’ll be reporting some good news after SEAvATL!

Featured image of Martinez courtesy: atlutd.com

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#wegot3 USMNT get 3 points in crucial WCQ

US Women’s National Team Key Contributor

By Abigail Gerken @abigailgerken22

March 24: USMNT vs Honduras: 6-0 Win

USA Lineup : Tim Howard; Jorge Villafaña, Omar Gonzalez, John Brooks (Tim Ream, 70), Geoff Cameron (Graham Zusi, 59); Michael Bradley (capt.), Sebastian Lletget (Alejandro Bedoya, 18), Christian Pulisic, Darlington Nagbe; Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore

The USMNT beat Honduras 6-0 in a huge World Cup qualifying game. They are in the “Hex” which is 6 CONCACAF teams (USA, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Honduras, Panamá, and Costa RIca) competing against each other for 3 spots in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The 6 teams will all play each other twice (one home and one away), and the 3 teams with the most points will automatically qualify for the World Cup, the team in 4th place will have to play an inter-confederation play-in game to qualify.

Prior to this game, the USMNT were in last place, with 0 points in 2 games. They lost to Mexico 2-1 on November 11th, and they also lost to Costa Rica 4-0 on November 15th.

The goal scorers for this game were Clint Dempsey (3), Sebastian Lletget (1), Michael Bradley (1) and Christian Pulisic (1).

The Budweiser Man of the Match Clint Dempsey scored his first goals since June 16th, 2016 during the Copa America. He has been sidelined from national team duty after being diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying – CONCACAF rankings as they stand

TEAM GP W L D Pts. GF GA GD
Mexico 3 2 0 1 7 4 1 3
Costa Rica 3 2 1 0 6 6 2 4
Panama 3 1 1 1 4 1 1 0
United States 3 1 2 0 3 7 6 1
Trinidad & Tobago 3 1 2 0 3 2 5 -3
Honduras 3 1 2 0 3 3 8 -5

Featured image courtesy: U.S. Soccer

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Fight and Win

Official Seattle Sounders FC Reporter

By Amber Rocha @amberrocha

Sunday, March 19: 3-1 Win

There is nothing like watching the Sounders play in Seattle. With March 19th being their first home game of the season since their MLS Cup win, the atmosphere at CenturyLink Field seemed to be more electric than normal. After their Championship Celebration and banner unveiling, the reigning MLS champs went on to beat the New York Red Bulls 3-1 in front of a record high crowd of 45,600.

With Roman Torres out on suspension for misconduct in last week’s match against Montreal Impact, a large question was how the Sounders would do without their star defender. However, the win was never too out of reach for the Sounders, as they started off stronger and more in control than they had during their first two games of the season.

The Red Bulls did put in effort and came away with one goal that came out of nowhere in the 59th minute when Bradley Wright-Phillips headed in a nice cross from Sal Zizzo. The Sounders, however, were unstoppable with three beautiful goals including a penalty kick from Clint Dempsey in the 28th minute after Jordan Morris was brought down in the box by Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles.

Goal number two was a result of an impressive show of skills from Joevin Jones to Nicolas Lodeiro who made a beautiful cross where Jordan Morris was able to head it past Robles in the 66th minute. Lastly, the third and final goal came in the 78th minute after Harry Shipp tapped in a shot that Jones took from outside the box that seemed to be heading straight to Robles.

Yellow cards were not super prevalent in this match but one standout moment was when Red Bulls forward Fredrik Gulbrandsen attempted to earn a penalty kick for his team immediately after the Sounders had taken theirs and was instead met with a yellow for simulation and a Sounders free kick.

Injuries always seem to be around the corner and there seemed to be a couple that might become an issue in the future. Oniel Fisher came off in the 64th minute after a foul by Sean Davis with Alvaro Fernandez replacing him on the field. Jordan Morris played through the limps (and still scored) after he was brought down in the box but came away with an ankle injury. Lastly, Chad Marshall took an elbow to the head while doing his defending but continued playing and doing his thing, as Chad Marshall does.

All in all, after starting the season off with one loss and one draw, the Sounders are back to winning and on the right track to defending their championship title.

This result leaves the Sounders ranked as 6th in the Western Conference and is hopefully just the right beginning to keep this winning momentum going. Next week, we face Atlanta United who boast an impressive record so far. Atlanta did beat the Sounders during preseason but then, they have never played Seattle at home so it will definitely be a face-off to watch.

Random but important:

  • Joevin Jones’ space buns are all-powerful and every Sounders fan should wear their hair that way for the rest of the season.
  • The Sounders are really good at breaking streaks as they ended one of the longest streaks in Red Bulls history, with 18 unbeaten regular season games. Additionally, they have broken Orlando City’s 17-game home unbeaten run, the LA Galaxy’s 12-game home unbeaten streak and ended the Colorado Rapids 18-game home unbeaten streak while becoming Western Conference Champions last year.
  • Five Sounders have left Seattle for international duty including Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris who joined the United States national team, Joevin Jones who joined the Trinidad & Tobago national team, Roman Torres joined the Panama national team and finally, Nicolas Lodeiro who joined the Uruguay national team for World Cup qualifiers.
  • The Sounders left in Seattle will be playing a friendly against Club Nexaca on March 25th which should be a good time.

Featured image courtesy: @SoundersFC

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Vancouver Whitecaps vs Toronto FC

Official Vancouver Whitecaps Reporter

By Christy Casas @nkstar9

Saturday, March 18: 0-2 Loss

This game was tough to watch as a fan. This game brought the Vancouver Whitecaps’ second consecutive loss and 2nd straight red card in 3 games. One thing I can say, the game wasn’t boring.

The highlights of the game are as follows: Fredy Montero offside like 18 times, Toronto defense beats our offense in the air every time, we continue to feed forwards in the air, Brek Shea gets carded, Michael Bradley screams a lot, there was almost a full team fight, Armando Cooper is a crybaby, referee is the worst referee I have ever seen. EVER.

Ok, so here are the details. Whitecaps are playing CCL games in tandem to their MLS games and it might be causing some fatigue. They traveled from Vancouver to San Jose, to Mexico and back within a week. All excuses aside, Whitecaps are not looking so hot. The decision making on the field is poor and there seems to be a lack of ability to adjust their game to that of their opponent.

In addition, the midfielders were not making runs into space. There were many opportunities for through balls, but the problem was, our mids were sitting back. They weren’t connecting any passes. They were passing into pressure and losing the ball.

Why do I sound like a high school soccer coach? Because we are talking about the basics of soccer, the BASICS.

The game was pretty physical and was called by what seemed like a ref who had been paid under the table. Just to let you know that I am not being a cry baby, the refs were shown off the field by security. Eventually, after letting the play get pretty dirty, Shea was shown a yellow, then quickly a red after something was mumbled or said to the ref.

Just shortly after the ‘Caps went down to 10 men, Toronto FC came on strong with 2 goals. That’s 5 goals in 2 games they’ve allowed after falling down a man. This is 5 too many in my opinion. If we can’t compete with 10 men, let’s not play with 10 men. Discipline please.

Well, here we are. Let’s try this again #riseupraincity

Featured image courtesy: Vancouver Whitecaps facebook

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Top of the Table

Official Portland Timbers Reporter

By Sheba Rawson @shebainpdx

Saturday, March 18: 4-2 Win

What’s that, you say? The Portland Timbers are 3-0 and top of the table after three weeks in March? How in the heck did THAT happen?

It has been a crazy start to the season, to say the least. In week two, we won on the road in Los Angeles. The last time a Timbers team pulled off a March road win, I was in high school. (In related news, I am old.) And last Saturday, we managed to defeat a strong Houston Dynamo squad that was having a fine March of their own. Fortunately, the boys came through when it counted.

The first two scores of the match, both on penalty kicks, came from handballs that were so hard to see in person that I had to re-watch the highlights later to know just what had happened. The first, coming at the 10th minute off a ball that deflected off the lifted elbow of DaMarcus Beasley, certainly didn’t look intentional, but who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth?

In any case, Diego Valeri confidently jogged up to the spot and drilled it high and center for the first score of the match. The second, at the 36th minute, was a handball that careened off Diego Chará’s arm as he lifted it up to cover his face during a Cubo Torres free kick. Hard to fault Chará for trying to keep his face from getting drilled, but if you’re going to call the first one you might as well call the second one, I suppose.

There were several long minutes in the first half where I was worried about our ability to withstand Houston’s counterattack, and their score to close out the first half was a perfect example of why. During first half stoppage, we got our clocks cleaned. Alvas Powell was WAY behind the play on the counter, probably a combination of playing so far up on offense and recovering from an injury; and Zarek Valentin, our third string fullback, was playing catch-up much of the half. The result was a quick Torres to Alberth Elis flick, followed by a beautiful and deadly pass from Elis to Romell Quioto for the easy score. If this was a sign of things to come, I didn’t like our chances in the second half.

But then, the second half came, and something was different. I don’t know what adjustments they made, but Valentin and Powell looked like they were hung out to dry a lot less often. In fact, Valentin redeemed himself in the 57th minute with a BEAUTIFUL left-footed cross from the corner, perfectly placed for Valeri to head into the back of the net, and suddenly we were tied again.

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Smoke after a goal. We had a lot of those that night. (photo by Sheba Rawson)

Our third goal of the night was probably my favorite. David Guzmán is a beast, in every good way. I may call him Tenacious D for his work in the back (which by the way frees up Chará, thank you very much), but he also works incredibly hard on the offensive side of the ball. And he was rewarded for his efforts last night with what turned out to be the game winner in the 65th minute. With Beasley trying to clear the ball, Guzmán chested it perfectly to Nagbe, who returned the favor by making a ridiculously good spinning-as-he-hit-the-ground pass to Guzmán, who put it away, then kissed the crest following his first score in a Timbers uniform. Sebastian Blanco is definitely DP quality, but I really think in many ways Guzmán might be our most valuable signing of the season so far.

Fanendo Adi was kind of driving me nuts that night. (Okay, not kind of. He really was.) He managed to line up offside a few times, his footwork wasn’t the best, and he was looking gassed toward the end as he missed chance after chance. But just as I was turning to a friend and saying “WHY haven’t we subbed him out yet?” Adi did this at the 87th minute and put us ahead 4-2. Way to shut me up, Adi.

Hot takes

  • I don’t want to go on and on about it, so I’ll just say that Cubo Torres was being kind of a jerk.
  • Alvas Powell reminded me of first-year Powell, which meant moments of brilliance followed by moments of WTF? I do not wish to watch another season of the “That’s So Alvas” show. Hope we’ve seen the last of it for awhile.

  • Our back line still scares me, but Roy Miller wasn’t horrible. He and Guzmán have some playing history together and it shows.

  • We made adjustments at the half and they worked. More of this please.

  • Darlington Nagbe’s ball handling is so solid that I think he might have only had one errant pass the whole first half. I remember because when it happened it felt SO out of the ordinary. I hope he gets a chance to show some of that magic during the USMNT qualifiers this next weekend.

  • Jake Gleeson. Holy cow, son. You had some saves that first half. Nice work.

Other stuff

Prior to the match, the Timbers had a ceremony to honor Nat Borchers, retired center back and amazing human. Nat took the opportunity to salute the Timbers Army one last time and we tried to return the favor. Now Nat is taking up a new position, this time in the broadcast booth. We love you, Nat. Best of luck in this new chapter.

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We Are Your Shining City Upon A Hill (photo by Sheba Rawson)

This weekend also marked the Timbers’ Army’s participation in the Independent Supporters Council’s stand against racism.  The tifo display, We Are Your Shining City Upon A Hill, spoke to the Timbers Army’s desire to continue to defend equality as a fundamental human right and to reject racial oppression. In addition to the display, the Timbers Army also sold both “Refugees Welcome” scarves and “Sanctuary” scarves, with proceeds going to charitable organizations who work with immigrants and refugees. And finally, we also held the first of many match day drives, this time collecting food for a local food pantry at Impact NW. Yes, we want to win the battle on the field; but we also want to win the battle for equality and dignity in the broader world.

Well, that was a most excellent weekend. Next stop: Columbus. Hopefully, we can manage to hold down the fort while Nagbe and Guzmán are away on international duty. See you next weekend.

Featured image, David Guzmán celebrates his first goal in a Timbers uniform courtesy: Portland Timbers

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Oh When the Wiz…

Official Sporting Kansas City Reporter

By Kirsten Arpin @Kirsten_Hoogs

Saturday, March 18: 2-1 Win

Three points? A goal by Benny Feilhaber? A nutmeg goal by Soony Saad? I’ll take one of each, please!

Saturday’s game versus the San Jose Quakes at Children’s Mercy Park started off much like the rest of the season so far. Sporting Kansas City was creating, but not capitalizing, and Tim Melia was staying strong in goal.

*Before I go any further, you should know that there is no love lost between Sporting and referee Jair Marrufo. Some of you may know about the game against San Jose last year when Dom Dwyer was tripped by Andres Imperiale in the box, and was not awarded a PK. Afterwards, both coaches agreed that a PK was warranted.* With that said, there was a good bit of chippy-ness going on (read chippy-ness as Dom getting tripped up three times and play continuing each time). I know Dom has a tendency to “embellish” fouls, but not to that degree.

Now, moving on. There were so many close shots in this game! If the goal was one foot wider the score would have been something like 5-2. Benny missed just wide right in the 18th minute, Jimmy Medranda missed slightly wide left in the 39th minute, Dom tripped in front of the goal after beating keeper David Bingham in the 54th minute and he then missed the far post by about two feet in the 58th (the U-S-A chant by The Cauldron was a nice touch though).

This is the same issue we had the majority of last season. Sporting would get forward and make shots like no one’s business, but they couldn’t convert. The thoughts of many SKC writers were that we needed someone up front to help Dom, ala Krisztian Nemeth, and this off-season we signed Gerso Fernandes, Latif Blessing, and Dom’s Man Crush Monday Soony Saad.

Let’s see how this turns out once the team gets going and some more of these guys get worked into the Starting XI. One other worrisome note is Ilie Sánchez in the midfield. Some of his decisions seem a little questionable, and his passes aren’t connecting as much as I would like them to. Hopefully, he just needs a little more time to gel with the rest of the team.

But on to the fun stuff! Nearing the end of the first half Benny Feilhaber lofted the ball over David Bingham and into the corner for the first goal of the season! Bingham had no chance, and Sporting got to celebrate!

Luckily for Sporting, San Jose didn’t have much of an answer. Our defense was solid minus a terrifying two minute stretch at the end which led to a stoppage time goal by Florian Jungwirth. This would have been an issue, but Soony Saad’s 89th minute shot nutmegged David Bingham and rolled into the goal. We’re going to say it was a goal for Soony…the MLS is saying it’s an own goal off of Bingham…tomato tomato (that is way less effective when you type it). You know a goal is lucky when the team’s tweet about it is “¯\_(ツ)_/¯”.

The ending was probably the best part of the game. If you look at the picture at the top of the article you can see The Cauldron in the distance. At the end of the game The Cauldron sang “When the Wiz Go Marching In”, and the players sang, swayed, and jumped along. It was a great ending to an awesome game!

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Photo credit to Peaty Romano @PeatyR

Week 3 fun facts

Captain Matt Besler and Graham Zusi have been called up to the National Team for the World Cup Qualifiers! You can watch them play against teammate Roger Espinoza when the USMNT meets Honduras on March 24. The other US qualifier is against Panama on March 28.

Forward Dom Dwyer is officially a US citizen! He had his swearing in ceremony on Thursday, so we may be seeing him on the USMNT roster some day soon…

Sporting KC did an “official” team bracket on Tuesday, and it was pretty interesting. The guys who had teams in the tournament got together to make their picks: Matt Besler – Notre Dame, Soony Saad – Michigan, Graham Zusi – Maryland, Ike Opara – Wake Forest, Cameron Porter – Princeton, Colton Storm – UNC. Ike basically took over much to the chagrin of his teammates. Ike’s picks were a Duke vs UNC final with Duke winning. Benny came in once everyone left and lambasted Ike’s choices. The video is on Sporting’s Facebook, you should check it out.

*Note: at the time of writing Duke had just lost to South Carolina. Also, the KU Jayhawks have made it through to the next weekend…Rock Chalk

Have a great spring break, everyone, and I’ll see you for the next game on Friday, March 31st at Toronto FC!

#WeTogether #AllForTheCity #NoOtherClub

Featured image courtesy: Olivia Brestal @oliviabrestal

Follow and chat with me on twitter: @Kirsten_Hoogs

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Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017