That line is from Sigi Schmid, but I think it relates to so many of us after this first season. I know it personally feels that way. Last night, with all of the pomp, with the win, it was one of my favorite days of my young life that didn't involve family (yes, my wedding was better). The team played that brand of soccer that we have come to love, to expect and finally to see again. There were waves of counters, so many opportunities and it seems fitting that the Off-5 last night were really the ones that got it done on the two goals. Oh, and there of course was that Golden Scarf thing. To be one of 23 in year one is truly flattering, I want to thank all of those who voted for me last year, and I hope that you find me worthy in year two. We are only getting started here, and my goals are not yet complete - there are still empty seats in the stadium, the Greening of the Rave Green has barely starter and creating stronger connections between our local culture through beer/food options at the stadium must improve.
I am fully confident that if the box score at the end of any night ends with the following the Sounders won that match;
Shots: 10 18
SoG: 3 8
Saves: 6 2
Fouls: 20 10
Offsides: 3 5
Corners: 6 5
That is the offensive wave that we need to see. Flow from the back to the front, with series of passes going from the centerbacks to the wingbacks to the defensive mid, back to the wingbacks, into the center mid to the wings to a cross to a shot. Plays that we saw so often last night that the 2-1 score felt like it could have been 5-1.
For the Steve Zakuani detractors it was notable to me that every single time he had the ball he was required to break through a two-man bracket. If he was within 30 yards of the net, he is considered dangerous. While last night he didn't wind up in the score books, he was involved in the action that led to victory.
For the Nate Jaqua detractors, he played his game at the right mid and played it fairly well. He is learning that role, and it may wind up suiting him. Nate will never look pretty on the pitch, but I will take 9 goals and 7 assists that are ugly over a pretty 4 and 4. He won first ball headers both defensively and offensively, threatened on several occasions and in his scoring effort did what he does. He read the space and situation and captured the opportunity in a way that only he has been doing with his time on the pitch.
Freddie Ljungberg in this last month went from what could only be described as a mediocre season into being a force of will. It coincided with him playing up top alongside the young Montero, and that move put him as the key to the offense. While not a CAM, his freedom to speed to whichever channel is open has lead to his ball at feet skills to crush the opposition. Ljungberg may be in the mentions for an October player of the month. Seattle earned 9 points in 3 matches, including two huge road wins. Ljungberg had four assists in the final two matches and truly lead the expansion side from borderline making it to as high as a number 3 finish on a single table (pending Chivas/Houston result).
Fredy Montero continues to show his inconsistency, but it is an inconsistency that shows that he is a great MLS talent, and not yet ready for the next level. His focus drifts and he goes long stretches where you think "why would you do that Fredy?" Than moments later he shows the talent that has him finishing 3rd (possibly 4th - GBS to play) in the Golden boot race with names like Donovan, Scheletto, and Angel. That's fine company, but honestly, if Montero leaves now he may wind up like Landon Donovan, failing due to leaving too early.
Last night the FC Dallas season ended because they faced a team that rediscovered cohesive play with the backing of the best keeper in US history. Kasey Keller may win the team MVP, or the nod may go to the Swede. It is only a two horse race. In MLS' individual awards hunt the Sounders should remain strong, but are not likely to have any winners. Schmid likely loses to Arena. Keller likely loses to the winner of the Chivas/Houston match. Montero won't finish higher than 5th in the MVP. Zakuani will get passed in the Rookie of the Year. Defender of the Year will see Hurtado maybe 2nd. Now, the Newcomer of the Year is almost certain to be a Sounder (if you know which you would be the first).
Just remember, the Sounders are not done yet.
Also from Sigi
Everything for us is like a speed bump on the road, nothings going to be detour in terms what we’re trying to achieve and getting to the goal of trying to win MLS Cup.
Stats to be updated tonight or tomorrow, also tiny portions of conversations I had with Claes (Ljungberg's agent) and Adrian. Carlos is likely to share his thoughts from distance.
Here is video from Leo of the Golden Scarf Ceremony. I'm likely to get a lot of photos, and I promise I won't flood you with them. Thank you again. I know the team wanted to find a way to celebrate the fans and I hope that I was part of an adequate way to do that.
Ljungberg calls us World Class