It's do or die time now, in more ways than one. Seattle needs to collect essentially every available point to stay in the Supporter's Shield race, which of course also includes top seeding for the playoffs. Coincidentally, "every" point includes three available down in Portland this weekend. And, as we saw in 1985, hurting Seattle's playoff opportunities is the sort of thing that Timbers legends are made of.
Then, of course, there is the matter of the Cascadia Cup. Not that it is some sort of big deal. Still, if by some act of Salazar Seattle drops this game, Portland will clinch their first* Cascadia title without even leaving the friendly confines of Jeld-Wen Field.
*because seriously, who takes the two won in 2009 and 2010 seriously?
It's hard to say whether the TIFO war will continue this week, considering Portland last hosted Seattle only a few months ago. Regardless, The Wall Street Journal of all things has a video and article about the rising culture of MLS Tifos. It uses in its examples a number of Seattle, Portland, and San Jose banners, but one of my all time favorites was Section 8's Mario from 2009. (Why can't I ever find video of the Galaxy's Death Star from 2011?)
Luckily for Seattle, reinforcements are quite literally flying in, as Adam Johansson and Mario Martinez return from international duty. Johansson rode the bench for Sweden on Tuesday, implying that he will get the start in Oregon Saturday. You would think Martinez is more in doubt, having played in both games for Honduras. But Soundersfc.com implies otherwise, quoting Martinez as "feel(ing) great". Additionally, all three of Seattle's DPs appear to be ready to go. (Don't forget that this game is on network TV, so tell all your friends to tune in).
With the hype...chainsaw... cutting along a full speed, it's hard to believe that there are other things happening in the world of soccer this week. I mean, there were games and everything! Yeah, I didn't hear about that either! There was just the one MLS match, as Chicago downed the floundering Reds in Toronto 2-1. It's hard to know what Toronto can do differently, failing to make the playoffs in their existence under a number of different plans, despite one of the highest payrolls in the league. If Paul Mariner is retained for 2013, he has his work cut out for him.
For now, Jurgen Klinsmann gets to keep his job after the US Mens National Team managed a 1-0 win over Jamaica at Crew Stadium. However, the seeds of discontent were sown with their lackluster performance a week earlier. Never mind he only took the job a year ago, the fact that USA isn't at the top of the FIFA rankings proves he's got to go.
Speaking of Crew Stadium, Columbus has been in the topic of a number of discussions this week. Prosoccertalk's Steve Davis writes a terrific article about what Crew's building, as the first "Soccer Specific Stadium" means to the league and what it now symbolizes, even as it has been passed by nearly every stadium situation in MLS.
Columbus also held MLS' business summit, which further reinforced that Major League Soccer is a different league than the contraction era ten years ago. Despite being the second-smallest MLS market, Columbus is able to compete with the New Yorks, LAs and Seattles of the world thanks to the league's financial model. Now, according to Commissioner Don Garber, "several of its 19 teams are profitable".
The thought was that David Beckham would buy an MLS club after he retired, but it looks like his eyes have wandered elsewhere. Word is now that he, along with American soccer legend (and acceptable broadcaster) Alexi Lalas, are trying to buy La Liga's FC Malaga.
Turns out that Seattle isn't the only place where new sports buildings are fought with blood and vinegar. In this case, it is the worry of additional traffic that sees opponents of New York's Flushing Meadows stadium plan coming out against MLS' interests there. Still, all parties involved seem excited that the beautiful game will be entering the boundaries of the Burroughs. Why ten miles is such a barrier to entry I still don't fully understand, but it probably doesn't bode well for the Red Bulls and their arena.
It's voting time! No, the presidential election is still a ways away, as is the Sounders' front office vote (HANAUER HENDERSON 2012!) But a couple of lower-division teams are looking for new names, and you can help. First, the Sounders' Open Cup opponents Atlanta Silverbacks have grown tired of being named after a monkey. Then, the local Arlington (not Texas, nor DC) is looking for a moniker for their PASL club.
We've been talking about Chivas quite a bit lately, and the club's future is as uncertain as ever. The LA Times has a comprehensive article detailing all that is going wrong down in So-Cal.
A new study is out showing that high school sports lead to a more positive school experience. So the next time someone replies to your love of the beautiful game with some reference to "Caesar" or "Bread and Circuses", hug them, because their high school experience probably wasn't very good to them.
Suddenly reports have been coming out about match fixing up in Canada that put Italy to shame. Okay, that's not quite true, because Italian soccer is clearly the king of such things, but the Canadian Soccer League and gambling outlets seem to have a closer relationship than is typically allowed. And it is serious enough to include death threats. I normally wouldn't condone such things, but maybe they could, just once, fix a game in Toronto's favor. They could really use it, and the payout would be enormous.
Finally, the University of Washington is seeing its soccer teams in the national rankings. The men see themselves ranked 20th in the nation, while the women just jumped into the top 25, landing on 23.
Here's your 90 Plus. Since there weren't a lot of games last week, Seattle's featured heavily. Have a good Cascadian weekend.