Here in the Sound snow spots the landscape. Although not nearly as much as the weather forecasts would have you believe. Still, it's bitterly cold for those of you working outside today. Meanwhile the Seattle Sounders enjoy the nice, sunny weather at the IMG Soccer Academy in Florida. Mike Fucito and the forward corps of the Seattle Sounders must have solar cells inserted in those ugly tech-fit straps on the new jerseys since they powered through the competition yesterday.
Seattle Sounders Thrash UCF: The Seattle Sounders scored an impressive 7 goals over the University of Central Florida on Thursday afternoon. Pat Noonan made a strong comeback from injury to score two goals and narrowly missing a third. O'Brian White also pulled out two goals with the help of his strike partner Mike Fucito. Fucito was active all over the field with a goal and two assists. The Sounders also had an unnamed trialist playing in center midfield and whom racked up an assist. You can see highlights and interviews here.
Sounders Lose to Dallas FC: Unfortunately, the scoreline wasn't quite as impressive earlier in the week when the Sounders faced Dallas FC. The Sounders lost 2-0 off of goals from Marvin Chavez and Brek Shea. The Sounders featured players fighting for some of the last roster spots on the team with some action from regular starters Blaise Nkufo, Fredy Montero and Osvaldo Alonso. The majority of the first team will get more playing time against the Chicago Fire on Saturday. You can see the highlights and interviews here.
More from around the league after the jump:
Blaise Nkufo To Retire: One of the interesting things to come out of the presser after the Dallas FC game is the news that Blaise Nkufo expects to retire at the end of the 2011 campaign. The veteran forward turns 36 at the end of May, and will be out of contract at the end of the season. With both Keller and Nkufo retiring at the end of the year there will be a large leadership vacuum at both ends of the field. It will be interesting to see who among the younger players on the team can step up during 2011 and try to provide new leadership among the Sounders.
Josh Gardner Back in MLS: Fans of the USL Sounders will remember midfielder Josh Gardner from the 2007 and 2008 campaigns. He was a key part of the midfield for both the Sounders and later the Carolina Railhawks. Gardner, playing left midfield, helped the Sounders win the USL1 Championship in 2007. Now he is making his return to MLS with the newly restructured Columbus Crew. He played against Real Salt Lake in the CONCACAF Championship league (CCL) this week. Best of luck from SAH on his return to MLS!
Crew & RSL Draw: The weather was cold, the ground was hard and the soccer was ugly. That's basically the short form write-up of the recent 0-0 draw between the Columbus Crew and Real Salt Lake in the CCL. Probably the ugliest part of the game was referee's Jair Marrufo insertion of himself in the match at every opportunity. Marrufo ejected three players during the course of the game along with a slew of yellow cards. On a positive note...the Crew looked much better than I expected. Highlights from the game are available here. Denz at RSL Soapbox has collected a plethora of articles and videos related to the CCL match-up on his site.
More Fun in the Sun: The Sounders FC will participate in the Inaugural Beach Soccer Club World Cup! All the clubs picked from beach soccer professionals to form their teams in a special draft. So, no actual Sounders will be involved, but the Sounders brand will be competing against the brands of leading clubs such as FC Barcelona (Spain), AC Milan (Italy), Sporting (Portugal) and Boca Juniors (Argentina). Here's to hoping our brand proves victorious! Chris Henderson, Sounders technical director and former beach soccer player, will serve as team delegate for the Sounders.
Breakout Home Grown Players: MLS teams like Dallas FC, DC United and the New York Red Bulls are counting on a new crop of home grown players to fill out their rosters. The fans of these teams are hoping the next local Andy Najar or Juan Agudelo are waiting in the wings. WV Hooligan lists his five home grown players to watch this season. More importantly, WV Hooligan gives a season preview of the new jerseys around the league and the new Sounders jerseys don't compare very favorably at all. Although I secretly believe the tech-fit straps are secretly hiding a new solar powered device for complete Sounders dominance in the league! (cue evil genius laugh here)