We real cool. We
Left School. We
Lurk Late. We
Strike Straight. We
Sing Sin. We
Thin gin. We
Jazz June. We
- "We Real Cool" - Gwendolyn Brooks
Show me 40,000 screaming, full-throated Sounders fans and I'll show you a good time. Here in Seattle we have our own style. Sandals in rain, shorts in snow, jackets in summer and a couldn't-care-less attitude. You think we're cocky and conceited but we know that's not true, because narcissism is a flaw and we don't have any.
So congratulations on your Salazar-Assisted 2012 USOC trophy, Sporting Kansas City. You've been paying reparations for that fuck up since before that game, and it's carried over long since after. SKC sees the 4th official step up and hold the board indicating 4 minutes, and they break into a cold sweat. They know. Seattle knows. You think you're getting points, Sporks? Go home. Go home and wallow in your self-loathing.
Sporting came out strong to start the game but Seattle weathered the attack and sprung the counter. They played disciplined defense, not allowing mistakes to define their play. Sporting looked threatening at times, as you would expect from the defending MLS Cup Champions. But they got shut out.
Meanwhile the Sounders have 3 points out of 3. Stefan Frei has a 0.0 GA, and we as fans got both tacos and burritos! Not a bad haul. Last year it took Seattle until April 20th to pick up their 3rd point of the season. In 2014 they did it in 43 fewer days. Not to be all doom and gloom, but this might be the first undefeated team in MLS history.
I've got some bullets to point.
- You have to wonder how much energy the new Sounders players receive when they step on the pitch in Seattle for the first time. You could tell by Chad Barrett's celebration that he had the passion; he couldn't even hear himself screaming after he scored the game's only goal. Stefan Frei, Kenny Cooper, Marco Pappa, Chad Marshall also played in front of Seattle's crowd for the first time with the crowd on their side. Dylan Remick and Sean Okoli got to experience their first game time in Seattle. You heard the players talking of this after the USMNT game against Panama, this crowd is special and the players know it.
The game changed after Clint Dempsey was substituted in. The SKC defense stopped marking Martins exclusively and it opened things up. After his entrance it was all Seattle, save for a few late gasps by Sporting. To me, Clint Dempsey does not look done as a player. With only one day training with Seattle, he made some amazing first touches, almost scored the game-winning goal in the 94th minute, and provided the assist for Barrett's game winner. He had a few one-touches that made me go, "Oh my!" And it was his pressure on the back of Dom Dwyer that caused the small forward to miss his header after Graham Zusi made a gorgeous corner. It's safe to say I'm excited to see how the team plays when Dempsey is more familiar playing with his teammates, new and old. For the sake of narrative, Dempsey scoring the game winner would've been great vindication for him after such a maligned loan spell at Fulham, but I'll take the win without his goal.
This is not last year's offense. Call it a hydra, call it an amoeba, it's varied and it's potent. Against a defense that doesn't sport two MLS All-Star centerbacks, this offense can put in many goals. We saw known forwards Cooper and Barrett and Okoli playing on the outside. Cooper had four shots, three of which were dangerous. Marco Pappa had a wicked deflected shot, some great crosses by DeAndre Yedlin, Lamar Neagle, and Okoli. It's exciting. After Eddie Johnson's departure, people have been asking, "Where are the goals going to be coming from?" Everywhere. They'll come from everywhere.
The defense looked stout. Chad Marshall is everything he's cracked up to be, and his solid, unnerving defense allows the risk taking of a player like Traore to work, and it worked well. Dylan Remick made his first ever MLS start and he looked like he belonged. He could use some fine-tuning, sure, but he wasn't out of place out there. Yedlin, well, what can I say? He's amazing. We're watching a star. His sequence in the second half where he's on his own endline getting repeatedly hacked, yet still maintaining possession before he clears, that's strength and poise. Frei had some hiccups, some ill-advised punches, sometimes tentative attacking the ball in the air, but it's hard to fault him too much. Call it nerves, wet gloves for the downpour, or Sporting's propensity to body check him as he goes into the air, it was a hairy first outing for Frei, but he got the clean sheet. Well done, defense.
Alan Kelly is a professional referee trainer and he called more fouls on a Seattle's opponent than has ever been called before, but the game never got out of hand. There wasn't chippiness that you see late in a lot of MLS games. Sure, Aurelian Collin could've been awarded a second yellow in the first half. Sure, Osvaldo Alonso could've been awarded a second yellow in the second half. But he was consistent. On the Brad Evans – CJ Sapong penalty that he didn't award, I personally think it was a penalty, but I can see why he didn't award it. I hope the referee lockout gets resolved sooner rather than later, and though I haven't watched any other MLS action this weekend, I thought he did a fine job.
Kenny Cooper is a large man. Physically he's imposing and I'd feel very inferior standing next to him. But goodness does he have a deft touch. Big man who plays like a small man is accurate, until he bangs into you and you're left with welts and regret. Chad Barrett too, that man is broad. Seattle has some big bodies on the field.
Sean Okoli should feel good about his professional debut.
Here are some quick Kyle Martino Absolutes
Dom Dwyer is pesky and will have a good season.
Chad Marshall does not lack the drive to make him a successful Centerback.
Marco Pappa is going to score some goals this year that will make me want to run around without pants.
DeAndre Yedlin is the best American Right Back.
Clint Dempsey will have a huge impact for Seattle this year.
If this is the Sounders we'll see all year, expect big things.