Tag Archives: Brian Schmetzer

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

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

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

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Sounders Suffer First Loss Of The Season To LAFC, 4-1


Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

Coming to Los Angeles as the last undefeated team in MLS, the Sounders were definitely a lesser version of the team that started the season with the greatest run in franchise history. With Chad Marshall, Raul Ruidiaz and Will Bruin all missing the trip, Jordan Morris became the lone forward in Seattle’s 4-2-3-1 lineup.

After a midweek flop in Vancouver, the Black and Gold were aggressive and borderline vengeful with their attack from the opening whistle. After repeatedly knocking on the door, Carlos Vela finished off a beautiful pass from Mark-Anthony Kaye for the game’s opening goal.

The remainder of the first half, Seattle seemed unable to get anything started offensively and had several miscues on defense. Shortly before the halftime whistle, Eduard Atuesta took Roman Torres for a slip and slide as he slotted home the second goal for LAFC in the first 45.

Known for his compelling halftime speeches, Brian Schmetzer’s boys came out of the locker room with an improved look and created some excellent build up play. In the 51st minute, Victor Rodriguez found an open Harry Shipp, who tallied his first goal of the season and brought the Sounders back within one.

However, four minutes later Carlos Vela scored an almost identical goal to his first of the day, this time assisted by Atuestsa. In the 61st minute, Christian Ramirez tapped in a sitter from six yards out that gave Kaye his third assist of the day and LAFC a 4-1 lead.

While the game finished with a 4-1 score, the saga continues less than seven days later as LAFC will travel to Seattle for an incredibly quick rematch in the Emerald City. With injuries plaguing the Sounders in Los Angeles, a full squad and home field environment should help the Sounders put on a better display. However, a midweek home match against San Jose will likely require some squad rotation and depth is a luxury the Sounders do not currently have.

A comment on fan behavior

Let me start this by saying I’m not a Sounders fan who hates all other Western Conference or MLS teams. When I first became a season ticket holder, I went to an away game in Portland. A small group of us were grabbing beers at a bar far from the stadium that was playing morning football games (the Seahawks were playing) and no one in the bar was wearing Timbers gear. Eventually, a small group of Timbers came in to the bar. A girl from their group walked up to me, threw sardines in my face and tossed a salmon head on the table while saying “today we gut the fish”. I was in shock. I promised myself then and there I would never become a fan fueled by hatred for other teams, only passion for my own.

I enjoy watching other teams do impressive and inspiring things, because it benefits the league. I love what Atlanta is doing with their fanbase and attendance. I love Minnesota’s new soccer specific stadium. I love what Mia, Magic and Will Ferrel are building in LA and I respect the hell out of Bob Bradley. Having him coach in this league helps make MLS more respectable globally.

What does not help the reputation of MLS is LAFC fans throwing beer on opposing team players. It is atrocious beyond explanation. Watching a sideline fan throw beer on Nouhou, who was simply attempting to throw the ball in, was disgusting. And it’s not the first time. When facing RSL in the knock-out round last year, the referee stopped the game for 5 minutes after fans from the LAFC supporters section were throwing beers at Nick Rimando. This should not be a representation of team or fan culture if we ever hope to progress MLS to the level of the EPL, Bundesliga or La Liga, three leagues where actions like this would never be tolerated.

RSL Goalkeeper Nick Rimando’s tweet after having beer thrown on him in a playoff game last season.

While LAFC were a beautiful display of skill on the field Sunday, it disappointed me to see fans still throwing beers on opposing team players. I hope that fan behavior can someday replicate the professional integrity of the teams.

Featured image: @SoundersFC on Twitter

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @savage_hart

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

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

Chat with me in the comments section

Check us out on instagram! @mlsfemale

Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017