It has been a pretty wild week around here. Coming on the heels of the Vox news, we had the Providence sponsorship announcement. Those two things have taken up a lot of my headspace, but I promise we’re still keeping track of what’s going on with the team this newsletter is about.
The Club World Cup officially kicks off tomorrow when Auckland City plays Al Ahly with the winner getting a date with the Seattle Sounders on Saturday. The game is going to be shown on FS2 nationally and Fox13+ (formerly JOEtv) locally, but there are also a bunch of watch parties including one hosted by the Sounders at the Seattle Center Armory and one hosted by us at Queen Anne Beerhall (which you may remember from previous YachtCons). I’m planning on heading to Queen Anne Beerhall with my family and I’d be happy to chat with anyone who sees me.
The Sounders, meanwhile, are getting ready to head out from Marbella, Spain to Tangier, Morocco.
They’ve spent a little more than a week in Spain and managed to play two preseason games, albeit on the same day. The ostensible starters played Austria’s Wolfsberger and tied 0-0, while the reserves fell to Sweden’s Hammarby 3-2 with goals from Fredy Montero and new Tacoma Defiance transfer signing Georgi Minoungou. I wouldn’t call either performance particularly encouraging, but they hopefully shook off some rust and will be a bit more ready for an actual competitive match.
Probably the most encouraging thing to come out of those matches was João Paulo getting through 45 minutes without any apparent problems. I still don’t think he’s going to start in Morocco, but just having him available would be a massive boost to a midfield that missed him badly during the second half of last season.
Although I think the Sounders are probably more talented than either of their potential opponents, I think they’ll probably be underdogs against Al Ahly. This is a team full of Egypt internationals who are absolutely dominating their domestic league with an undefeated 11-0-4 record. They’ve posted 12 shutouts and haven’t allowed more than a goal in any of their 17 games across all competitions. The Sounders would surely be favorites against Auckland City, who haven’t played a competitive game since September and don’t even start their season until late March, but they’ll have to spring a massive upset of their own just to play the Sounders.
The Sounders will have at least some support while they’re there, though. I’ve been told the team has distributed about 300 tickets to their first game. Of that, about half our traveling with ECS.
Everything else you need to know
- Apple’s new MLS Season Pass will officially become available on Wednesday. Just ahead of that announcement, they revealed 31 more talents that will be working the broadcasts. Among them is Sounders play-by-play announcer Keith Costigan. That brings the total roster to 49 and it sounds like there will be one more batch of hires. The Sounders will still have a radio broadcast, but it’s not yet clear who will be on it.
- There will apparently be another international club tournament on the horizon after Concacaf and CONMEBOL announced a “final four” style tournament to be contested among the Americas’ top teams starting in 2024.
- The Defiance have added four more players: Antonio Herrera, Frank Dorama, Paul Rothrock and Gio Miglietti. All but Dorama spent time in the Sounders Academy with Herrera having already been called into Mexico’s U17 team, Rothrock playing a couple years with TFCII and Miglietti starring at UW. The Defiance are shaping up to be very interesting.
- I talked to Taylor Graham and Maya Mendoza-Exstrom about navigating the challenges posed by the Sounders’ new partnership with Providence.
- I also talked to Sam Rogers, the Sounders Academy product who made his USMNT debut this week.
- As you’ve probably noticed, we’re now allowing for paid subscriptions. Right now, that’s basically just a way to show your support and all content remains available to everyone. We’ll probably start creating some exclusive content sooner than later, however, and would love to know if there are features you’d be interested in paying for.