Well, Wednesday was a little tough, wasn't it? Between the makeshift back line, the red card, the potential PK, Montero's thwarted run on goal, and probably a dozen more things I didn't even notice, the 0-0 tie with Real Salt Lake got a lot of people riled up. So much so that there are petitions aiming to see the referee on the night, Ricardo Salazar, receive some extra training. Which I'm sure any professional in any profession would respond well to. MajorLeagueSoccerSoccer.com notes this recent match is far from the first time a ref has been criticized for his performance this year.
Regardless of the result, the match was rather promising. While no goals made it into the back of the net, the team proved that they could hang with one of the best teams in the league despite some SERIOUS adversity. The ball movement was excellent, and high pressure was handled much more efficiently than it was a handful of weeks ago when San Jose came to town. Mr. Gspurning was happy with how the team responded.
Eddie Johnson was another player unavailable for the match, due to his play with the US National Team on what was a break for the rest of the world (more on that later). Johnson put up two goals and an assist to put a GAM-sized stamp on the proceedings. He credits his newest national opportunity to the confidence he has reclaimed as a member of the Sounders. All corners are impressed and excited.
Next up is FC Dallas on three days rest, but the visitors aren't bullish (heh) on the roster they will be visiting Seattle with. It is possible Seattle will see some starters with significant Wednesday minutes take a seat, including Mauro Rosales and Jeff Parke.
There weren't any other midweek games, but there is a Sunday match that many Sounders faithful will be keeping an eye on (besides... you know... the one in Seattle). That, of course, will be Vancouver hosting Portland for the final Cascadia Cup fixture. A Portland victory would mean the first MLS Cascadia Cup for the Oregon club, as well as their first time atop the head-to-head-to-head matchup in their history. A loss or tie sees the Cup stay in the Puget Sound for the second consecutive year. This means that members of the ECS will miss the Dallas match, prepared to hand over the cup if the worst happens. Too bad the game isn't in Seattle; not only would the even spread of two fanbases create an excellent atmosphere (assuming it could get the numbers) but the Tanzania ads would help Seattle keep the cup in any case.
For the Sounders, and half the teams in Major League Soccer, this time of year is almost a base camp in the attempt to reach the MLS Cup-Summit and suffer from the lack of oxygen at the top. The other 9 teams are looking at how to get back down the mountain so that they can try again next year. (At least they won't fall into a crevasse in the first round). This is the situation that the Colorado Rapids find themselves in, sitting three of their starters and examining future strategies. We don't appreciate yearly playoff appearances as much as we should.
If the current playoff format were more like last year's version, Columbus would be sitting pretty on a Western Conference playoff seed, at the expense of the Vancouver Whitecaps. Instead, the Crew are on the outside looking in, a point back of the Dynamo with remaining matches against DC United and Toronto FC. Massive Report is hoping that their star and lead wind Federico Higuain is feeling good for those remaining matches; where he goes, the club goes.
There's still some uncertainty as to whether a true Canadian rivalry will take off. Given the proximity and nationality of Toronto and Montreal, many thought it was a given. But early indications are that the matches between the two have lacked the spark expected.
On the other hand, Seattle has more rivalries than we know what to do with. By virtue of intense matches, that has to include Salt Lake. Their list of memorable moments is one-sided (as should be expected) but can be a good refresher for the Sounders with borderline Alzheimer's like myself.
Construction of the new Earthquakes arena will officially start on Sunday as the club hosts an official groundbreaking event. They will attempt to break a world record for most attendees at a groundbreaking ceremony. The word "groundbreaking" is used like a billion times. Almost like it has some sort of special meaning for the Earthqua... never mind, I get it.
Toronto FC is what the Sounders could have, might have been with a more terrible team. Rightfully, the ownership has seen just how wrongly they have done by their fans (not that they "DESERVE" anything) and have elected to lower season ticket prices back to the level they were at in their inaugural year.
Chivas may have found their coach of the future, but the future of that club still is far from clear. From the other locker room in the bowels of the Home Depot Center, David Beckham has taken on a worthy cause.
The whole Red Bulls organization is getting a shake up. Word is that Erik Soler was scheduled to be out for weeks.
MLS and NASL have been getting along nicely for a while, but that relationship is getting even closer, according to this article on the league website. NASL has been increasingly beneficial to the top-flight league, taking old and young players for more experience, and giving the New York Cosmos a stepping stone to the eventual MLS platform.
An article at Hot Time asks the question "Which is more important: Country or Club"? To which I reply, "the one that I get the opportunity to see live." If the US first team ever played matches in Seattle, maybe I would bother to catch more than the last ten minutes of their matches. Until that happens, it is 100% club.
Regardless, the matches the Nats played to get into the Hexagonial (sic) round were ripe with excitement, and our own Eddie Johnson was a huge part of that. His stock is certainly rising. As is the profile of the US Mens National Team, continuing to progress after the fight to make the 1990 World Cup.
Seattle will be looking for a new shirt sponsor next year, and it sounds like there's a good chance it won't be XBOX or Microsoft related. Some clubs worldwide are going to extreme lengths (phrasing) to keep their organizations afloat, including picking up brothels to put on their jerseys.
Liverpool will continue to play in their historic grounds, as they make plans to renovate their Anfield building. Rumors had put them at building a new pitch at a new location.
Between John Terry's sentence and a snafu on the Asian Football Confederation website, it is clear that racism is still an issue in the otherwise beautiful game. Less racist but just as effective, Singapore's S League is planning to implement their own version of "No Child Left Behind", where the clubs that finish last in the league will receive fines.