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Major Link Soccer: No Sacrificing Sheep!

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One club uses a BCE ritual to gain an edge in the 21st century.

Don't worry guys. UEFA and PETA have your backs.
Don't worry guys. UEFA and PETA have your backs.
David Rogers

With the Sounders absent from CONCACAF Champions League for the first time since the franchise's inaugural MLS season in 2009, MLS teams are struggling a bit early on in the group stage. Houston failed to score in their first match to a team from Trinidad and Tobago before taking all 3 points the other night, behind a brace from USL Sounder Cam Weaver. Last night, San Jose failed to get a result for the second time in group play, falling 1-0 to Heredia, which all but eliminates them from the competition only 2 matches in. A nightmare scenario for MLS is playing out in Group 5, with Montreal having also lost to Heredia in their first match.

It's not all bad for MLS in CCL though. As with Seattle last year, Sporting Kansas City has posted a perfect record through two matches in Group 2. Even better news is that both wins have come on the road, so their final two matches will be played at Sporting Park. Sporting KC is currently the top ranked group leader, with a +4 goal difference. LA doesn't play their next CCL match until September 18th, but their first match was a convincing enough win to expect them to win Group 8 fairly easily.

Because they apparently are masochists, Stumptown Footy breaks down the Sounders goal off a set piece and the play that led to it on Sunday night. They take solace in the fact that players without glowing golden hair were marked pretty well in the box while lamenting the fact that Seattle's only player courteous enough to highlight the most dangerous part of his body on deliveries from Mauro Rosales lost his marker just as the ball was sent into the box.

FC Dallas manager Schellas Hyndman praised the atmosphere and the quality of play in the Cascadia Cup clash on Sunday night in an interview with the Dallas Morning News. It's probably safe to say he's also envious of the Sounders form, since they are the hottest team in MLS since late July, as Don Ruiz from the News Tribune pointed out.

Kasey Keller was interviewed by the Guardian for an article in their Small Talk series that covered a whole host of issues, including his perspective on pitch invasions at Millwall, living in a castle in Germany, a joke told to him by Drew Carey that was too racy for them to print, and "peasant" hunting.

The Sounders haven't had a ton of trouble finding a decent amount of possession in the attacking third this season. The trouble has been creating clear cut scoring chances with that final pass. MLS Armchair Analyst Matt Doyle argues that Steve Zakuani could represent that "missing piece" when he is finally healthy and fit enough to get back into the lineup for Seattle.

After signing his contract extension with the Galaxy, Landon Donovan indicated that his decision to stay in the league, coupled Dempsey's arrival, could represent a "tipping point" for the league. Because of his relationship with former Everton and current Manchester United manager David Moyes, Donovan is probably passing up an opportunity to move to Old Trafford. His teammates, Robbie Keane and Jaime Penedo have been called up for international duty, with Donovan and Gonzalez expected to be called up for the USMNT.

Two members of San Jose's 1906 Ultras have been arrested for assaulting a Portland Timbers fan in April. Both individuals face several charges including assault, harassment and disorderly conduct. Here's to hoping the legal system can sort this one out without the Ultras pouring gasoline on the fire again.

Chivas USA just announced a new local TV deal for the remainder of the season that will carry most of their remaining matches in both English and Spanish. The best part of the deal appears to be the fact that both channels are available over the air, so fans don't have to pay for an expanded cable package to watch the games.

Vancouver Whitecaps striker Kenny Miller impressed a lot of people with his performance in Scotland's recent match against England, including Scotland's manager, who was disappointed when Miller retired from international football. Another individual who was impressed was Rangers manager Ally McCoist, who is interested in signing Miller to his team. The problem is that Rangers are still under a transfer embargo until January, which means Miller can only be signed on a free transfer. Unsurprisingly, the Whitecaps aren't interested in releasing Miller from his contract. Miller has previously played for Rangers on two separate occasions: in 2000 and from 2008 to 2011. Despite the fame of Rangers, moving from MLS to the third tier of Scotland's system would undoubtedly represent a step down. Vancouver has also added another homegrown player: defender Sam Adekugbe.

Former United States and current Egypt manager Bob Bradley was a guest on the Dan Patrick Show yesterday. Bradley and Patrick discussed the unique challenges he faces in managing a national team whose nation has been in turmoil for most of his time there.

Birmingham City manager Lee Clark has submitted a formal complaint to England's FA following a bizarre match against Yeovil Town in the second round of the Capital One Cup. The reason for the complaint lies in a goal that was scored by Yeovil instead of playing the ball back to Birmingham City after a stoppage due to injury. The goal tied the match at 2-2. Yeovil allowed Birmingham City to walk in a goal in extra time after having scored a goal of their own that gave them the lead. Birmingham City was ultimately able to advance on penalties.

Elsewhere in Capital One Cup action, Brek Shea was able to get his first start with Stoke City in their 3-1 win over Walsall and Jozy Altidore scored his first goal for Sunderland which sparked a 4-2 comeback win over MK Dons, with all of Sunderland's goals coming in the final 12 minutes.

Kazakh club Shakhter Karagandy has developed a habit of sacrificing sheep a day prior to matches in their home stadium, which sparked concern that they might try to do the same thing in Scotland prior to their second leg Champions League playoff match against Celtic. It certainly didn't help that Shakhter's manager speculated that it could potentially happen in Scotland, noting the country's plentiful supply of sheep. After the sacrifice prior to the first leg match, PETA lobbied UEFA to do everything in its power to prevent it from happening again, which led to UEFA informing Shakhter that it would discipline the club if something similar were to happen again in reference to any UEFA competition. When this story caught the attention of the New York Post, they couldn't pass on the opportunity to attach a delightfully tacky headline to the story. I think we'd all be disappointed in them if they didn't.

We Ain't Got No History previews the UEFA Champions League draw, which takes place today at 8:45 AM PDT on Teams in Pots 1 and 2 will be hoping not to be drawn into the same group as Manchester City or last year's runners up, Borussia Dortmund, both of whom are in Pot 3.

There are several major transfer stories making the rounds in Europe, and most of them are interrelated. Gareth Bale is expected to be announced by Real Madrid once Tottenham has signed Christian Eriksen from Ajax. Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas has openly admitted that Bale's transfer is imminent after the Welshman refused to rejoin the club in training. The Spurs have also secured the services of AS Roma's Erik Lamela for a reported $40 million fee, which could potentially grow to over $46 million. Poor Michael Bradley keeps losing teammates at Roma to Premier League sides. Tottenham still might not be done bringing players in, with reports emerging that they may also be in for Chicharito.

Chelsea appear to have addressed their longstanding striker problem, after reportedly signing Samuel Eto'o to a one year contract. This appears to finally put to rest all the rumors of Wayne Rooney moving to Stamford Bridge. Former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba told Sports Illustrated that he would consider moving to MLS after his contract with Galatasaray is up next summer. The question is whether anyone will be willing to pay a ton of money for a 36 year old Drogba.

TV Listings:

  • Europa League: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Dinamo Tbilisi 12:05 PM ESPN3
  • Friendly: Deportivo la Coruña vs. Real Madrid 1:30 PM beIN Sport
Beer Event
Who: You
What: NW Peaks Beer and SaH Viewing Party
Where: World of Beer - Renton (21+ venue)
When: 31 Aug 2013 from 3 PM to end of game