Tag Archives: Jill Peck

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

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

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

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 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

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @savage_hart

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

A 16 Year Old Scored the Game Winning Goal and You Can’t Tell Me Otherwise

Sounders top Whitecaps 1-0 in Seattle.


Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

Image: Jill Peck

The Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps met for the second time this season after a scoreless draw up in Vancouver in March. The Cascadia rivals met on Saturday with both sides somewhat depleted by international call-ups. For Seattle, 16-year-old Danny Leyva made his debut start, the third youngest player to start in MLS behind Freddy Adu and Alphonso Davies.

Along with the debut start of Leyva, USL veteran Justin Dhillon made his Rave Green debut. The Sounders signed Dhillon to a first-team contract after Will Bruin sadly tore his ACL in training and while Raul Ruidiaz is still away on international duty with Peru. Seattle’s only other forward on roster is 17-year-old Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez, who made his substitute debut in the 90th minute.

While both teams were goalless through the first half, the Sounders showed significant pressure in the second half and tested Vancouver goalkeeper, Zac MacMath. In the 60th minute, MacMath came off his line to shut down a breakaway from Dhillon. The ball deflected off of MacMath (after what can barely be defined as contact with Dhillon) and fell to the feet of teenager, Danny Leyva. From 30 yards out, Leyva picked his head up and lobbed a ball in past not 1, not 2, but 3 Whitecaps defenders.

Image: Jill Peck/mlsfemale

After the Sounders thoroughly celebrated Leyva’s debut goal, the stadium fell to a murmur, then a roar of boos as referee Alan Kelly motioned for a VAR check of the goal.

For this. This “contact” from Dhillon, who had full possession of the ball and took a shot on MacMath, who made no intentional contact with the ball except for it deflecting off his body.

When the ball fell to the 16-year-old only a split-second later, he had the composure to do this:

But the goal was called off for what the referee referred to as “sportsmanship”, claiming Leyva should have played the ball out upon seeing MacMath on the ground injured. However, the referee himself did not blow the whistle to stop play and MacMath’s injury was not a head injury. Nevertheless, the youngster was robbed of his debut goal by Alan Kelley and Zac MacMath, who both heard it from the Sounders faithful the remainder of the match.

Image: Jill Peck/mlsfemale

With 8 minutes of stoppage time added on for the MacMath/VAR antics, in the 96th minute Kelvin Leerdam and Brad Smith combined with a stellar passing sequence capped off by Leerdam slotting home his 5th goal of the season to give the Sounders a 1-0 victory.

Image: Jill Peck/mlsfemale

Celebrating A Legend

Image: Jill Peck/mlsfemale

Before the match, Chad Marshall was honored with a brief retirement ceremony and given the Golden Scarf. As a fan, it was daunting to watch him stand out on the field for the very last time while he spoke briefly, teared up slightly and walked away to the blaring tune of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”. It was perfect but still felt too soon. You can read my extended take on Marshall’s retirement here:

Featured image: @jillmpeck on Instagram

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @savage_hart

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale