Seattle once again proceeds on to the later rounds of the CONCACAF Champions League, putting a stamp on their 2012 run with a convincing win over Marathon. Their 3-1 victory featured goals from 2012's role players, Sammy Ochoa, David Estrada, and Steve Zakuani. It was also the
first most recent Seattle start for born-again Sounder Marcus Hahnemann.
Before we continue with our regularly scheduled links, it is important to get something out of the way; Nintendo is the best video game company in the history of video game companies. Nothing against the XBOX on our shirts, but when Sounders fans are asked what game console they prefer, the answer should always be Nintendo. Because it is the right answer. Also, as a season ticket holder, I'm okay with my ticket prices increasing a little bit when my team is doing well. I appreciate it less when my club is terrible and the prices are increasing a lotta bit.
Seattle wasn't the only MLS club wrapping up their group round campaign. Toronto FC could have done the Rave Green a nice favor, holding on for a tie with Santos Laguna for nearly 75 minutes. Such a result would have made Seattle's Wednesday victory one worth the second seed in the quarterfinals. But a late strike from none other than Herculez Gomez would be the only goal scored, as Santos took its (rightful) place as the top seed in the round. Also on their way out are RSL, after drawing with Herediano. Joining Seattle in the quarters will be Los Angeles and Houston, (the former of which was the second club in two weeks to take issue with the MLS officials).
There was even a league match this week, even if it seemed inconsequential on paper. Philadelphia had a chance to play spoiler, knocking Kansas City from their first place perch in the east. While they were unable to take points from the match (read: they lost), they did do some damage to KC's playoff aspirations, injuring midfielder Paulo Nagamura. This, in conjunction with the Roger Espinoza situation, means Sporting won't be going into the playoffs at the top of their game. On Philadelphia's front, there is a feeling that all would be okay (or at least better) if one certain former captain were back with the team, but the club they traded with isn't interested in back-sies. He isn't the only one missing the Philadelphia connection.
Also not in top form right now are our neighbors to the north in Vancouver. Has any team ever backed into the playoffs with more "back" than them this year? As the first Canadian team to make the MLS cup playoffs, the occasion was supposed to be one of celebration, but the tone surrounding the club seems to be one of mourning, as if they were one of the nine clubs NOT making the playoffs.
Bizarrely, certain quarters of the Timbers population are actually quite happy this week, despite having been effectively eliminated from the playoffs for months. That is, of course, because of their first ever Cascadia Cup win. The less said about that, the better. But they do have one more match left to play this season, against 2012's perpetual villains, the San Jose
Rapunzels Earthquakes. Golden Boot winner leader Chris Wondolowski will attempt to set the record for most goals scored in an MLS season against the Portland Timbers this weekend, and there is as little love lost between those two teams as there is between me and Lenhart's hair.
That "out" group includes Dallas and Columbus officially this week. Neither team expected to be on the outside looking in when the 2012 campaign began, and find themselves looking at 2013 draft prospects early for various reasons. Dallas rightly regrets missed time from several of their key contributors, resulting in a downright brutal first half of the season. Columbus is beginning to wonder if their success over the last four years hasn't been more a carryover from the Sigi Schmid era than thanks to any ability coach Robert Warzycha may possess.
Did we say that Hans Backe was out in New York? We actually meant that he is unequivocally the man for the job. Or something. The coaching situation in Harrison is more confused than (insert topical Presidential Debate reference here).
New York isn't the only location having coaching kerfuffles (one of my favorite words). Adrian Heath was set to join Toronto's coaching staff under main man Paul Mariner (not those Mariners, though the results are similar), but now that isn't the case.
Who would have thought that Chivas USA would be one of the top headline-getters at this stage of the season? Between their own coaching saga, their front office clusterf@#$, and talk of a new home in downtown LA, it is hard to know what to make of what is going on down there. One thing is for certain though, You aren't relevant in MLS if there isn't talk about building a new Soccer Specific Stadium for your club. WITHOUT EXCEPTION.
The transition from Olympic Stadium to Stade Saputo wasn't a smooth one, but the result was a positive one for the Montreal Impact. The club will have high expectations set for them in the 2013 season.
Despite Herculez Gomez doing Seattle no favors, Tyson Wahl is our notable ex-Sounder of the week, with a whole article devoted to his poor fit up at 5,280 feet. Wahl was serviceable in Seattle, even downright good at some points, under certain conditions, and his rough time of it
in near Denver just goes to show how important scheme and surrounding talent can be in the success or failure of an individual player.
Fans of the Minnesota
North Stars of the NASL are in for a crazy Saturday. Their team will be playing for the league championship on the same day as the league convenes to decide whether or not to dissolve their club. Averaging fewer than 3,000 fans per game, the Stars aren't exactly a model off the field for their league. But boasting a supporters group that reportedly numbers at over 500 members should count for something, right?
Goal-line technology continues its steady march into the world of soccer, and as long as it doesn't include an obnoxious air horn, I couldn't be happier.
There are tons of great potential markets for the next round of MLS expansion, but one that continues to linger in the back of the conversation is Hartford, Connecticut. While not a huge traditional sports market, Hartford hosted a US Womens National Team match with nearly 19,000 in attendance. The state hasn't had a professional sports team since the NHL's Whalers left. That link also takes a look at how the MLS numbers on NBC Sports have gone.
Here are the goals from week 33. It seems that MLS has decided they don't want to do 90+ anymore. Their loss.
If you have heard of Sheffield FC, it is probably because the club is known as the oldest soccer organization in the history of the world. They are 155 years old this week. It is for this reason that if I were to develop a super power, it would be some form of time travel/immortality/seeing the future. I want to know what the Sounders will be like 155 years from now. More than likely my great great grandkids will be playing for the club after five generations of Rave Green indoctrination.
Oh, and if you've ever said something to the effect of "I want to be paid in beer", 1) I have a lot more in common with you than I thought, and 2) we all have a new hero to look up to.