Sadly, I've been incredibly busy in the last 1/3 of the season, and I haven't been able to share as much as I'd have liked on certain parts. But, with the end of the 2010/2011 season, some reflection is needed.
I'll be repeating this a lot through this post: that was a great season.
Without a doubt, the introduction of our rowdy neighbors and some new faces on our own team, the Pacific Northwest lit up the league. Hopefully this year in MLS history will be more remembered for the greatest derbies every witnessed, and not for a Galaxy win in the MLS Cup final (we shall see). But man, this season was the one that finally felt like we were playing real soccer.
Part of it was that the novelty of having an MLS team finally wore off, and that the Sounders actually became Sounders. In some cases, we were forced to accept the nature of the game, like when Steve Zakuani's season was ended prematurely. That was a jarring moment for everyone, but it's when we realized that this is what happens to soccer players and soccer teams.
But at the same time, we were allowed to bask in the glow that the beautiful moments provide us. Things that we don't necessarily predict or expect. Like when the Rodge got on his horse mid-season and showed everyone what he's capable of. Both in terms of water yoga and goal celebrations.
And we witnessed some spectacular goals. In one of the finest Sounders games every played, Lamar Neagle put up two candidates for best goal of the season. In the same game no less.
Tyson Wahl deserves some consideration too, also in a game that had his scoring debut. What a stunner by Wahl around the wall.
Our defense also deserves some credit. At certain points in the season, our defense intimidated offenders and punished teams not paying attention. Oh, don't we just love it when SKC come to town.
This goal might be my favorite though.
Kasey Keller's made some ridiculous saves for the Sounders, and it's true that even in his twilight we got some of the best performances out of a true legend. But leave it to Keller, our captain, to serve this up in his farewell match. Spine-tingling and heart-pulling.
I could also highlight all of the games that made history. Our first ever derby at home, in a rain drenched and cold night where the buzz and excitement brought a whole new level of electricity to the field. And again putting our foot down on the Open Cup as the rightful kings of the #threepeat.
It was a historical season. It was fun. It was miserable. It was gritty. It was sunny, rainy, hot, cold, but it was soccer. It technically isn't over, because of the Champions League, but one of my natural instincts at this point is to begin reflecting on missed chances. In fact, a couple weeks ago I wanted to do a post about games we could have, should have won, where the few points we had in our grasp were lost along with the Supporter's Shield.
But I can't do that. Because this season was a success. If it was possible to grow and further solidify the Sounders as a part of this city, this season went a step beyond that. Block parties, bowling parties, and dates with Sounders. For all the whining and griping overheard in the in between spaces of frustrating losses and draws, this season was fun. Insanely fun.
So, cheers to the boys who now call Seattle home. Mauro, Alvaro, and even Lamar, no matter what the bitter melons say, you guys deserve it. Kasey, you've been a tremendous guy the entire time here, and you have a long future in the organization. Fredy, please stay. We love you.
If we can keep the positives over the long off-season, and ship the negatives *cough Noonan, Ochoa get in shape*, then we're looking up. Which, as a Seattle sports fan typically looking down into an empty glass, it's a good feeling knowing 'up' is a positive step.
With a final cheery toast, to the best season yet boys!