So its been a while, but let's look at some Sounders FC news for the week.
Which is really just Sigi, Sigi, Sigi, Sigi, Sigi, Sigi; you get the picture. It seems quite likely that Seattle Sounders FC crossed the line but were willing to settle "out of court" rather than both teams taking it to the league offices for a ruling that could wind up with significant penalty (like points or draft picks). I have yet to read how much allocation money was sent, but in essence what SSFC has done is basically trade some allocation cash for the rights to talk to/sign Sigi Schmid who is without a doubt one of the two best coaches in this young league's history.
Some jersey numbers are starting to be announced, please realize that just because someone has a jersey number that a USL player used to have it does not mean that the USL player will not be signed at some point, what it likely means is that the player's under contract get to pick their own number. Its good to be first, right Seba?
There are two international players rumored to be discovered/signed/rights held by the Sounders, which gives me the inspiration to remind my few dozen readers that all MLS teams start with 8 International Slots and can trade for more, but it is important to note that resident aliens (ie Green Card Holders) do not count towards the International Slotting rules. Another note is that Sounders FC can if they feel it is necessary trade for more slots. Oddly MLSNet.com currently lists Sounders FC as holding ZERO internationals, which means either they are wrong, or that Freddie Ljungberg, Sanna Nyassi, Seba Le Toux, Khano Smith, and Jarrod Smith all hold Green Cards. I'm betting on an error being made, or Freddie Ljungberg isn't a DP either. Currently you should assume that all five hold an International Slot, meaning that Seattle has three more to use. I have emailed SSFC's Front Office for clarification.
Freddy Montero is drawing interest from Real Betis in Spain, as well as the previously noted interest supposedly held by Sevilla. It would also seem that Argentina might be a destination.
Osvaldo Alonso, has been mentioned in both the Seattle Times and in the Washington Post, as a player for interest for Sounders FC. Alsonso was the USL Rookie of the Year, a former Cuban national and despite getting an offer from Chivas USA instead played for the USL Charleston Battery helping them to their Finals appearance in the US Open Cup. He's only 23 so could be a Developmental Player.
Outside of Sounders FC there are two tourneys I'm following a little bit right now.
CONCACAF Champions League is down to 16 teams moving to the knockout rounds with the Houston Dynamo being the sole MLS team left. Two of the Sounders old opponents from the USL era are still alive as well - Montreal and Puerto Rico. The winner of this tourney gets to go to the United Arab Emirates and the FIFA Club World Cup next year.
This year's round of the Club World Cup is in Japan with Pachuca facing Liga de Quito (Peru) and Gamba (Japan) facing Manchester United in the Semifinals later this week. This is the only tournament in sport where the winner can truly claim to be the best in the world as teams from every nation compete and as long as they win advance.
As Sounders FC has frequently stated this is their goal, to play on the big stage against the biggest teams in meaningful games. Their easiest route there is probably in the following order; US Open Cup, MLS Cup Playoffs and MLS Supporters' Shield (reg.season leaders). To see a club with a less than 5M$ payroll go up against the European Super Clubs would certainly be a treat and one that with luck we can see in the future.
MLS Expansion continues to stick in the news. With Montreal pulling out/being kicked out with a dispute over the justness of the Expansion Fee there are now just six cities left bidding. Garber is touring each and every city this month and has already stopped in our old Cascadia rivals Vancouver and Portland. Don't read anything into his statements, he made positive ones about Seattle back when Salt Lake City was picked instead of us.
St.Louis, Miami, Atlanta and Ottawa are the other four cities remaining. The league will be at 16 teams after 2010 and this round is supposedly for two teams in 2011, but I still feel that with the economy being the way it is Garber and MLS might decide to take more teams on board (up to 5) in order to make the 40M$ per club and demonstrate that they can profit even in the weak environment. Sure it would be transparent, but it would also be black in the books and that's always better than red. Also taking any five of those cities would mean that the US would actually have a national television footprint and with the FSC contract up in 2011 (ESPN deal is up in 2014) it is important for the league to have teams in the South, expand its MidWest scope and expanded presence in Canada would be ideal as well. The league must have a national presence before those TV contracts expire in order to get better than a 1.0 rating for its premier matches. Currently hundreds of millions of Americans do not live in states with teams and have no attachment to the league, ironically US soccer fans watch more footie on TV than their European counterparts, just not their own league.
It seems likely that Portland is competing with Vancouver where as Vancouver is competing with Ottawa. I feel that if it is only two teams that come in we are certain to see VBC in the Western Conference as it would give TFC and SSFC rivals, whereas PDX only would have Seattle. Where once I thought that St.Louis was the leader in the East Miami seems to have moved to the front. It would be an absolute shame for St.Louis to not have a presence in the league.
Coming up this week - Why Supporter's Groups Matter, Reasonable Goals for MLS, How to Make Turkey Pot Pie, and maybe my first posting of a short story I was never able to sell.
Lastly, my wish list