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Major Link Soccer: That winning feeling

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Taylor and Balcer book Reign FC’s trip to the playoffs, while two Sounders academy products score elsewhere.

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Bethany Balcer
MikeRussellFoto

This was a pretty great weekend for soccer in the Puget Sound as Reign FC and the Sounders both won on Sunday after Tacoma Defiance secured a draw on a late Shandon Hopeau goal. The professional soccer leagues in America are all drawing to their close, which means playoff positioning is being determined, and some teams are starting their preparations for next year a little bit early. In Europea couple of once-hyped talents are making good on their promise - although one of them significantly more than the other. Also, one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time thinks that never winning the UEFA Champions League actually helped his career.

Seattle/Tacoma

Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei, coach Brian Schmetzer happy to see Iron Front flag ban end | The Seattle Times
Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei on MLS lifting its ban on the Iron Front flag waving in its teams stadiums: "I’m really happy that our fans stood up and fought hard...

Bethany Balcer probably sealed her Rookie of the Year campaign when she iced the game off with her goal. Reign FC Clinch Playoff Spot with Win Over Portland — REIGN FC: THE BOLD

So much for “Goonie Time,” right? Seattle Sounders get three massive points in stoppage time against San Jose Earthquakes courtesy of Jordan Morris | Seattle Sounders FC
The Seattle Sounders earned a late, dramatic 1-0 victory on the road against the San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday, courtesy of a goal from Jordan Morris three minutes into second half stoppage time.

Shandon Hopeau was the hero as fans and their dogs cheered the team on at Cheney Stadium. With four games left, Tacoma Defiance have matched last season’s point total. Tacoma Defiance Earns a Point in 1-1 Draw - Tacoma Defiance

Reign FC were represented by Celia Jimenez Delgado and Kat Khosrowyar, alongside leaders from the business community in Seattle at the event hosted by Zulily. AT THE TOP OF YOUR GAME | zulily Engineering Blog
Seattle Female Leaders Discuss Their Paths to Success On September 5th, Zulily was proud to partner with Reign FC for a thought leadership event, celebrating and highlighting leadership skills from Seattle leaders, including women in STEM, sports and business.

MLS/USL

San Antonio FC’s ‘keeper is apparently in first place with his Duck Dynasty look. USL Championship Ranked – Best Beard

This isn’t the kind of thing you want to hear from your star player heading into the playoffs. Diego Valeri on his future in Portland: 'I don’t think it's a great idea to talk about that' | Pro Soccer USA

We could all be treated to some wonderfully ridiculous scenarios if NYCFC should make their way to the MLS Cup Final. MLB playoff schedule may force NYCFC out of Yankee Stadium for MLS playoffs – The Athletic
Sounders would likely have to move a potential first-round playoff game to either Oct. 18 or 19.

RSL have had a lot of the bad kind of attention lately. RSL GM Waibel out following ownership dissent uncovered in Petke complaint - RSL Soapbox
Waibel is a former USL Sounder and UW assistant coach.

Being a sporting director would appear to be a young man’s game, these days. Olivier Renard named Montreal Impact sporting director | Montreal Impact
MONTREAL – The Montreal Impact announced Saturday the nomination of Olivier Renard as the club’s sporting director. Olivier Renard, 40, was the sporting director of Belgian club KV Mechelen, from 2014 to 2016, occupying the same role with Standard de Liège, from 2016 to 2019.

RSL’s Nick Rimando is retiring after this season. Here’s how he became the greatest goalkeeper in MLS history — and how Utah became home. - The Salt Lake Tribune

That’ll be MVP all wrapped up with a bow for Vela, then. He’s even still got another game to try to make the record his alone. Carlos Vela ties Josef Martinez's MLS single-season goals record of 31 | MLSsoccer.com
With his 31st goal of 2019, LAFC superstar Carlos Vela has tied Major League Soccer's record for most goals in a season, set by Josef Martinez last year. Vela struck his historic goal in the 70th minute of Sunday night's clash at Minnesota United.

It was awfully nice of Vancouver to do us all another favor this weekend. Seeing Zlatan lose is always fun, too. LA Galaxy 3, Vancouver Whitecaps FC 4 | 2019 MLS Match Recap | MLSsoccer.com
It took some doing, but the LA Galaxy managed to cough up a stunning 4-3 home loss to the last-place Vancouver Whitecaps at Dignity Healty Sports Park on Sunday, potentially dealing a hammer blow to the Galaxy's prospects of a high seed in the Western Conference bracket of the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs.

The Sounders did their fair share in helping Cincinnati set the record in their meeting at the beginning of the season. FC Cincinnati sets record for goals conceded in a single MLS season | MLSsoccer.com
The club from the Queen City has allowed the most goals in an MLS season, as they reached 75 tallies conceded in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Orlando City.

Some fates were sealed over the weekend, while others simply clarified a little. MLS: Union lose shot at top seed; Impact, Fire and Orlando eliminated | SI.com
The Fire, Impact and Orlando City were all eliminated from playoff contention while the Union lost out on the No. 1 seed in the East and the Revs and RSL earned playoff berths.

Armchair Analyst: All 24 MLS teams in review | Week 30 analysis | MLSsoccer.com
There were six games on at the same time, and then there were six other games on at the same time. So don't expect any great tactical insights here. You've been warned!

NWSL

Hopefully a series of pretty impressive turnouts at Red Bull Arena will help in the search. The next step for Alyse LaHue and Sky Blue FC: Finding a new home – The Athletic
The Sky Blue GM is finally free of the interim tag, and her leadership has the team looking forward to bigger things

The questions NWSL playoff frontrunners face in the final days of the regular season – The Athletic
From the USWNT coaching search to injury concerns and home-field advantage, there is a lot on the line in these final regular-season matches

She set a goal for herself, and there’s no overstating how impressive it is that she accomplished it! Sydney Leroux plays for Orlando Pride three months after giving birth | Pro Soccer USA

USA

We’ll just have to wait and see what comes next for one of the all-time greats. Carli Lloyd waiting on new USWNT coach before making retirement decision | Pro Soccer USA
Carli Lloyd is waiting on her U.S. women’s national team future and the team’s next coach before deciding whether or not to retire from the sport.

Ahh, good, another position to be filled at Soccer House. Sources - USSF Chief Soccer Officer resigns
USSF Chief Soccer Officer Asher Mendelsohn has resigned from his post in a move that impacts that technical leadership of the federation.

There’s a lot more to the American contingent in Europe than Christian Pulisic at Chelsea. Some of them are even seeing regular minutes. Yanks Abroad: George nets second goal of the season - US Soccer Update - Stars and Stripes FC
Weekly update covering the Americans playing for clubs abroad.

It’s tough to argue with Gonzalez’s decision, because it was only his to make. Jonathan Gonzalez has no regrets about decision to play for Mexico
We are drawing close to the two-year anniversary of Jonathan Gonzalez's decision to play for the Mexican national team — filing a one-time switch that severed his ties to the U.S.

A few goals in the early part of the season have the once-promising American off to a good start. Julian Green enjoying strong start to third season with Greuther Furth
Julian Green is having a career-best start to his third season with 2. Bundesliga side Greuther Furth.

World

Premier League Review Tottenham facing rebuild the unstoppable Kevin De Bruyne
Saturday's win was good for morale, but Hugo Lloris' error emphasised the massive rebuilding job facing Spurs. PLUS: How lucky are Liverpool?

Things may not have worked out right away for the Norwegian star when he first arrived in Madrid as a teenager, but his progression and development have been consistent since then. Real Madrid: Real Madrid are impressed with Odegaard but the long-term plan hasn't changed | MARCA in English

You’ve always got to have something that you’re working towards, right? Juventus' Gianluigi Buffon Has to 'Thank Life' for Not Winning Champions League | Bleacher Report | Latest News, Videos and Highlights
Gianluigi Buffon doesn't get angry when he thinks about never having won the UEFA Champions League. Instead, the Juventus goalkeeper is thankful to have a worthy reason for prolonging his career in a quest to finally claim the famous trophy...

Oh, so it turns out racism in Italian soccer isn’t new. AC Milan: Mafia spoiled my spell at Serie A club, says Taribo West | football
Former defender Taribo West has told Score Nigeria that Italian mobsters are to blame for the failure of his 1999 move to AC Milan.

Culture

Katie Nolan is back on your TVs, folks! Raise your voices in joy. “Always Late with Katie Nolan” Returns for Second Season; Makes Linear TV Debut Thursday on ESPN2 - ESPN Press Room U.S.

Have you ever watched Ashton Kutcher lose his mind on wings and wondered how that show even exists? Interview with Complex Networks CEO Rich Antoniello - Vox
How the company built Hot Ones and learned to live with YouTube

FIFA 20 review: A revelation in the streets - Polygon
FIFA 20’s best parts may still be its staple modes of play and gameplay, but changes to career and the vibrant Volta Football street-soccer mode more than distinguish this year’s edition.

What’s on today?

10:00 AM - Mali v. Niger (WAFU Nations Cup) - ESPN+

11:45 AM - Parma v. Torino (Serie A) - ESPN+

12:00 PM - Manchester United v. Arsenal (English Premier League) - NBC Sports App

1:00 PM - Ivory Coast v. Cape Verde Islands (WAFU Nations Cup) - ESPN+

5:00 PM - Santos Laguna v. Puebla (Liga MX Femenil) - Fox Sports 2

5:00 PM - Swope Park Rangers v. Birmingham Legion (USL Championship) - ESPN+

7:00 PM - Tijuana v. Toluca (Liga MX Femenil) - Fox Sports 2