The Schadenfreude could have been incredible. Mere days after beating the Seattle Sounders in a 5-3 aggregate, the Timbers were down 4-1 in Salt Lake with less than 30 of the four added minutes remaining. Then, Frederic Piquionne struck, with an incredible header that not even Nick Rimando could save, and Portland has two weeks to get their gameplan together for a 3-0 victory instead of what was nearly insurmountable. They still have a hill to climb, but two goals back is fixable with a Northwest Home Field Advantage.
The other game was uneventful. Houston hosted Sporting KC in a sloppy affair and now is tasked with winning on the road in another tough environment. The Dynamo believed they had taken the lead early on a Kofi Sarkodie sneak, but the flag went up on that one (perhaps wrongly). Other shots pressured keepers Tally Hall and Jimmy Nielsen. All were repelled. Can Houston go into Sporting Park to earn their third MLS Cup berth? That remains to be seen.
A lot of tough decisions will be made this offseason by Hanauer and Co at all levels of the team. Like whether Marcus Hahnemann still has enough in the tank to be a productive player for the Sounders.
According to Steve Davis, Clint Dempsey has been a big failure in his first few months as a Sounder. Never mind that he has often been the best player on the field. No one would argue that his shot accuracy could use some fine-tuning, but "big failure"? Poor choice of words at the very least. Dempsey and Eddie Johnson are joining the Nats for the friendlies.
Mike Gastineau's book tour is taking him places, most recently to WorldSoccerTalk.com where he did a lengthy interview.
Praise the marketing gods, it looks like the Columbus Crew will receive a branding update for the 2015 season. While the Black and Gold will remain, their picture-like construction guys on the shield are almost certainly out. With this, the arrival of NY2 (and possibly Orlando) and other potential rebrandings (San Jose please?) everything seems to be lining up for the league itself to change its own branding. Perhaps the foot block is on the way out?
Who would guess that the five most efficient MLS Front Offices (in terms of spending) would make the playoffs? And that four of those teams are still playing?
Dave wrote an article this weekend mentioning that CONCACAF seeding may see some significant changes in the near future. Open Cup winners may no longer be automatic ins to the tournament, instead replaced by division champions. That'd mean DC United would be out, and Portland would be in. Then again, USSoccer tweeted that the reports are false, so perhaps we have nothing to worry about.
Burgundy Wave looks at MLS attendance a little differently than many, instead placing importance on percentage of available tickets sold. It paints a flattering picture for the Colorado Rapids.
Oscar Pareja has been on the lips of teams needing to fill coaching vacancies, but the Rapids are saying now that he won't be going anywhere.
The Vancouver Whitecaps may try to promote a coach same as the Timbers did, and the name being brandied about for them is US U-17 coach Richie Williams. Tab Ramos is off the table, signing a new contract extending his term as the U-20 leader.
Toronto FC continues to flash the cash like a coked-up mayor, with rumors that they're aiming for Samuel Eto'o as a designated player.
As the postseason wraps up, established venues are looking hard at the great success soccer and MLS are achieving these days. BBC Sport catches up with Steve Nicol to pick his brain. A warning: It focuses on David Beckham. Then, this Forbes article analyzes the astounding growth of the league, likening it to the Grunge explosion in the 90's.
The University of Washington soccer team keeps hitting new high points on their season. The latest is their victory over the 4th ranked California Golden Bears to take a lead in the stacked Pac-12 standings. The match went to overtime, and ended 2-1 in favor of the good guys.
The New York Cosmos won the NASL's fall title, winning Soccer Bowl in their first opportunity. The victory over the Atlanta Silverbacks included a number of former Rapids. The occasion led Pele to fondly recall earning a victory over the Sounders in Soccer Bowl '77 in 140 characters or less. Despite the loss, Silverbacks coach Brian Haynes was named the league's Coach of the Year.
Indy Eleven has already sold out of their 7,000 allotted season tickets for the 2014 NASL season. Seems like it'd be a good marketing opportunity to allow another 4,000. Indy Eleven Thousand?
A set of extremely lucky fans got to bus Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux from their stadium to their hotel this weekend. If US Soccer is ever hurting for cash, they could make people pay for the privilege, though no one would be able to outbid me for the rights to ferry Leroux. She did a number on Brazil en route to a 4-1 victory.
In 2015, the Women's World Cup and Men's Gold Cup will be played at the same time. Even worse, the TV rights for each are both owned by Fox. Someone is going to get relegated to FS1.
We already mentioned that Johnson and Dempsey are joining the US, but it looks like Landon Donovan has nowhere to play this month.
Another study has been done on the effect fans have on team performance. Big surprise: There is one.
Who knew that Ricky Martin is still around? A symbol of the 90s will be the voice of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, singing the theme of the games.
Today is a day set aside by America to celebrate those who were willing to set aside family and friends throw on a uniform and serve. There are millions of us among you. I have a simple request today, when you see a Vet tell them thank you. They may be sitting next to you on the bus, or share your cube at work or be waiting in line for their coffee. Some were lucky, like myself, and served during peace time. Many others served during the various wars waged recently. Each deserve your thanks, for when they raise their hand in that oath they either did not know when war would come, or they absolutely knew and served anyway.
I want to take this opportunity to thank Sergeants Harris and Strickland and Warrant Officer Pifer. All three were a much lower rank when I served alongside them. Each has dedicated their life to the uniform and nation. For all the other soliders, airmen, seaman and marines I say thank you as well. This day is yours. - DC