Nelson Mandela passed away yesterday at the age of 95. While he will primarily be remembered for his political and sociological accomplishments in South Africa, he will also be remembered for his work in the world of sports. He was instrumental in bringing the World Cup to Africa for the first time. Soccer players and managers around the world stopped to reflect on the legacy Mandela left behind.
DeAndre Yedlin was named as a finalist for top male athlete in the Seattle Sports Star of the Year awards. He almost certainly won't win it, as he is up against Russell Wilson, but it's just another indicator of how far he has come in the past year.
Matt Gaschk writes on SoundersFC.com that the Sounders are a big piece of Don Garber's goal for MLS to become a top league.
When the Sounders were pursuing Joan Verdú last year, it seemed like the biggest obstacle to signing him was the fact that he seemed to want to remain close to home. In an interview with Inside Spanish Football, Verdú had this to say about the offer from the Sounders:
When the door closed at Espanyol, that I left opened until the very last moment, I started to carefully evaluate every single offer I received from each country. I had to analyze what would be best for me and my family, the pros and cons. The offer from Seattle Sounders was very appealing, but I wanted to stay in Spain, in the best league in the world.
MLS Cup Final
Mike Gastineau, author of Sounders FC: Authentic Masterpiece (which is still one of the top 20 books about soccer on Amazon), offers some advice to MLS officials concerning playoff scheduling. "The Gasman" points out that Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City have each played only 90 minutes of soccer over the past 4 weeks, as there was a 2 week break between the second leg of the conference finals in addition to the 2 week break between the first and second leg of the conference finals. When you compare that with the 3 days between the second leg of the conference semifinals and the conference finals, it's pretty clear that the playoff schedule needs to be fixed.
This year's MLS Cup Final matches up two possession-oriented teams that use different approaches to retain possession and create chances.
Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis admitted that the MLS Cup Final could be his last game as the head coach of Real Salt Lake. Despite previous reports that Kreis has already decided to become the first head coach of New York City FC, Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen holds out hope that Kreis will choose to stay with the team.
Sports Illustrated released the first part of a lengthy Q&A with Don Garber about the future of the league.
Mike Magee was named the MVP of the 2013 MLS season, after scoring 21 goals and providing 4 assists for the LA Galaxy and Chicago Fire. Magee won the club, media and player votes. This is the second time in 3 year that the MVP award was won by a player that was traded within the league at some point during the season (Dwayne De Rosario was traded twice in 2011, when he won the MVP award).
In an interview yesterday, MLS Commissioner Don Garber ruled out either contracting or moving Chivas USA to another city. He added that he has a plan for fixing the issues with the team but declined to share details of the plan. The Goat Parade sees Sporting Kansas City as a model for revamping the image and identity of the team.
It's bad enough that the Dynamo have to share BBVA Compass Stadium with the Texas Southern Tigers football team. They now have cheetahs from the Houston Zoo invading their practice field.
Toronto FC is getting closer to its stated goal of signing two DP forwards during this offseason. In addition to bringing in a household name from Europe, TFC would like to bring in a young star to develop. The young player Toronto is attempting to sign as a DP is Gilberto of Internacional in Brazil's Serie A.
Sacramento Republic FC unveiled the team's kits for its first season yesterday. The team also announced a 3 year agreement with UC Davis Children's Hospital to be the team's shirt sponsor.
The Portland Thorns will begin their NWSL title defense with a new head coach. Cindy Parlow has parted ways with the club, citing personal reasons.
In a move aimed to at least partially replace the scoring ability of Syndey Leroux, the Boston Breakers announced the signing of 23 year-old Colombian striker Melissa Ortiz yesterday.
Top Drawer Soccer previews the matchups in the NCAA mens' soccer quarterfinals. The preview for the match between Washington and New Mexico notes that the Huskies are unbeaten in their last 18 home games, which really shouldn't come as a surprise to Seattle sports fans in 2013. Saturday's Washington vs. New Mexico match will be broadcast live on Pac 12 Network at 5:00 PM PST.
In the Division 2 women's soccer tournament, Western Washington was eliminated by defending champion West Florida. The Vikings finish the season with a final record of 20-2-1.
The World Cup draw takes place this morning at 8:00 AM PST live from Bahia, Brazil. SB Nation has you covered with a full preview of the draw and with live coverage of the draw. Stars and Stripes FC breaks down the best and worst case scenarios for the United States.
The Seattle chapter of the American Outlaws is hosting a watch party at Atlantic Crossing this morning. ESPN will have cameras there to capture fan reactions to the outcome of the draw.
In addition to bragging rights, the winner of the 2014 World Cup will receive $35 million from FIFA. Every nation participating in the tournament is guaranteed at least $8 million.
There are still some lingering stadium issues in Brazil, with one stadium unlikely to be ready before the middle of April.
FIFA will decide next December which month the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be played. The tournament is likely to be played toward the end of the calendar year, in order to avoid conflicts with the 2022 Winter Olympics.