Seattle, MLS Cup Champions:
Although details are still being confirmed, the Sounders Championship March and Rally will be taking place at mid-day in Seattle on Tuesday, December 13. Plan your long lunch hour accordingly.
Through thick and thin Thank you #MLSCup Champs #SoundersFC #EBFG pic.twitter.com/dnwl6WCUYp— Andreas Ivanschitz (@andivan) December 12, 2016
As more time passes from the Sounders high-wire MLS Cup victory, many have focused on the up and down nature of their story, and generally of the full MLS season. John McGrath at the Tacoma News Tribune highlighted how the Sounders watershed season was full of quirks, epitomized in the penultimate 120 minutes. And while some may neg this performance as somehow undeserving of a victory, style points do not trump winning plays. In a sport prone to producing unbelievable moments, this MLS Cup left many players and fans in utter disbelief. ESPN FC goes back and breaks down the entire MLS playoffs, to fully encapsulate the dream run Sounders players and fans have been on.
And when it comes to winning plays and unbelievable moments, none come to mind more quickly than Stefan Frei's magical, wrist bending save to deny a sure goal from an Altidore header and, potentially, a Toronto FC championship. Steven Goff at The Washington Post highlighted it as a true moment of magic in a final otherwise played on a tight rope. Grant Wahl also wrote on how the save was a true paradigm shift within the cup match, with a header destined for the back of the net being denied by pure athletic perseverance. Matt Doyle compared it to Lebron James' block of Andre Igudola in the 2016 finals; a momentum shifting play that keyed the Sounders victory (while also noting Ozzie Alonso's performance cements his place as the best defensive midfielder in league history). While the play is incredibly impressive and has the benefit of various angles depicting how incredible it was, Roman Torres' cup winning penalty did not get the same treatment from Fox, an all too familiar theme for Fox's game coverage (TSN to their credit, fully captured that moment).
Others centered their coverage on the man leading the charge through the two hours plus penalty kicks: Bryan Schmetzer. Brian Straus put the focus on what the cup victory means for Bryan Schmetzer, and how his life's work led him to leading the club in #thismoment, a truly compelling story that Todd Miles reinforced for The Olympian. Jeff Carlisle at ESPN looked back at the adversity the Sounders faced this entire season, and how coach Schmetzer guided the team through it.
Although the Sounders have had an impressive amount of success at every level of MLS, the cup had remained elusive until December 10, 2016. The victory's significance cannot be overstated, even by the Sounders front office, with GM Garth Lagerwey calling an MLS Cup potentially "transformational" prior to Saturday's final.
The 2016 Sounders were a team epitomized by grit, receiving a mainline of "garra" from Nico Lodeiro himself. With the ultimate battle for the cup bested, the Sounders will bring back a hardened squad to the field in 2017, which will hopefully include Clint Dempsey as well.
While the Sounders celebrate their long awaited title, Toronto FC reflect on a crushing end to an overall successful season. While the loss is tough, Waking the Red believes this iteration of the team is well prepared to move on from 2016 and start anew in the 2017 season. Part of this hypothesis can come from the effort their side left on the field, with a hobbled Sebastian Giovinco going full bore until he no longer could.
Prior to the cup final, Toronto FC fans unveiled a tifo with the words "Nothing is more powerful than a club whose time has come", a sentiment that rang true for the Sounders in their victory as well.
The form of Jozy Altidore is a consistently polarizing topic across MLS and USMNT circles, but judging a forward by their goal output alone does not paint a full picture.
Following a far from abrupt conclusion to the 2016 MLS season, the league has a very abrupt transition into the offseason, with flurries of moves being made already.
The expansion clubs are leading the charge in this changeover so far, with Atlanta United announcing three player acquisitons (Orlando City Midfielder Harrison Heath, Philadelphia Union Midfielder Kevin Kratz, and Montreal Impact Striker Romario Williams). In addition to those signings, Atlanta acquired and then immediately traded former Chicago Fire keeper Sean Johnson to New York City FC for allocation money. Minnesota also acquired Colorado Rapids defender Joe Greenspan.
Along with this flurry of moves came the inevitable silly season speculation: the Timbers are expected to sign Costa Rican international midfielder David Guzman.
Not as speculative are the reports for (FREE AGENT BABY and the missing comma may or may not be intentional) Jermaine Jones, who is in talks to join the Los Angeles Galaxy, club president Chris Klein confirms. This may be the first domino to fall for the Galaxy, who face a certain active offseason, although if one were to believe Robbie Keane, this activity may be all for naught. LA has already seen some concrete moves happen though, with LAFC pouring the first layer of concrete for their stadium this weekend (I'll see myself out).
Amid the flurry of activity around the MLS Cup Final comes Commissioner Don Garber's annual state of the league. This year, he made a promise to resolve the Miami situation, which has been in flux for the last three years.
The goal kick may seem straightforward in nature, but as American Soccer Analysis dives into, it's often the stepping stone to a match's biggest moment.
One of the three survivors of Chapecoense's tragic plane crash has not been told of the immense tragedy that took place, for fear of impacting his recovery.
As the season changes so too must our shoes, with the soccer cleats finding their rightful hibernating place next to the broken ball pump this winter.