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2014 Sounder at Heart Moment of the Year: Group A

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There were so many good moments this season that we had to break it down into groups. Behold Group A, where beers are drunk and wishes are made and Timbers are saddened.

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Yeah, 2014 was a pretty good year. It was so full of good moments, in fact, that we couldn't limit the nominees to a small enough group to fit into one poll, as we've done in years past. No, instead we could only cut it down to 16 incredible moments from an incredible season, and that's with no Boise (haha, just kidding Boise will be in there, but only once). So in tried-and-true sportsball-league fashion we're going to break that 16 down into 4 groups of 4 and match up the winners in a final vote to determine our moment of the year.

As a reminder of moments past, in 2013 the SaH Moment of the Year was Djimi Traore's shot from distance against Tigres in the knockouts of the CONCACAF Champions League. It's going to be good to be back in the CCL in 2015. Other previous winners include Zakuani Returns to MLS Play, Exchanges Jerseys with Mullan (2012), Alonso Ices Open Cup (2011), Nyassi Brace in Open Cup (2010), and Fans Meeting Flight Home from DC Open Cup Win (2009) (winning the Open Cup is a theme).

In this year's Group A, the nominees are:

Dempsey Hat-Trick to Draw in Portland

It's amazing how the narrative of a season can turn on little moments. Our arch-rival Timbers started out sluggish this season, with no wins in their first 4 matches. They could have put their season back on track with an April win over the hated Sounders on national television. But that would qualify as treading, and Deuce Dempsey would have none of it. His 87th-minute penalty finished off a hat trick that brought the Sounders back from deficits twice, stunning Providence Park and keeping the Timbers winless.

Hahnemann Chugs Beer After Open Cup Win

We came to drink and we came to sing. And Marcus Hahnemann came to play and then also to drink. The veteran Sounder gave it one more season before hanging up his gloves, and though he didn't get much playing time, he was in goal for the Sounders' fifth round US Open Cup match against the San Jose Earthquakes. The game went to PKs, where he saved JJ Koval's penalty to set up Lamar Neagle for the game winning kick, after which he wandered over to the Starfire beer garden to celebrate in style.

hahnemann

Xander Bailey Starts For Seattle Against Tottenham

Midseason friendlies are a touchy subject in these parts. Some see them as a distracting money-grab. Some see them as a great opportunity to see world class teams in person. Some, apparently, see them as scouting trips to check out Sounders fullbacks. But this year the Sounders did something that everyone associated with the team can be proud of. They granted the wish of 18-year-old Xander Bailey, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, to be a professional soccer player. And he didn't just show up, he started the match and got off a shot on goal against Brad Friedel.

Chad Barrett Balletically Celebrates Goal Against Portland

We weren't sure how much MLS veteran Barrett would contribute to the offense this year, before he scored the first goal of the season and went on to lead the team in goals per 90 minutes played. But none will be remembered as well as his goal in a 4-2 win over the Timbers in Portland, which — thanks to losing a fantasy football bet — he celebrated with a pretty questionable chaînés turn.

So which of the moments in Group A was your favorite of the year?