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September 29, 2012 10:48 PM

Mauro Rosales: "We know that we are in the playoffs with that point, but it's not enough. We came here for the three points."

Posted by Joshua Mayers

Seattle Sounders FC Logo.jpgHere are some quotes and stats from Sounders FC's 0-0 road tie Saturday in Vancouver. The result clinched a fourth-straight playoff berth for Seattle.

I'm hitting the road to get back home tonight, so I'll have to update all of coach Sigi Schmid's interview later. What was notable was Schmid did take blame for the lack of adjustments in the second half as Vancouver shifted to a 4-3-3 and played more directly, as he put it.

* * *

SIGI SCHMID, Sounders FC head coach

(On making the playoffs...) "Obviously we've done a lot of work all season, so it's great to finally have that officially secured, but our goal is still to get second place so we're disappointed in not getting three points today. At the end of the game they had a fantastic chance with Camilo so we can be fortunate that we didn't walk out down. We had some chances as well, the deflected shot by Zakuani could easily have gone in as well, we had a couple of other shots as well but Knighton came up with some saves."

Continue reading this post ...


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September 29, 2012 10:14 PM

Sounders clinch fourth-straight playoff berth

Posted by Joshua Mayers

Four years. Four playoffs berths.

Sounders FC has qualified for the postseason yet again following Saturday's 0-0 tie in Vancouver. While the accomplishment was all but assured based on how the year had gone, now it's official (as seen from the "x" in the standings below).

Sure, the result against the Whitecaps wasn't ideal, but it's hard not to be impressed with Seattle's consistent success since joining MLS as an expansion team in 2009.

Asked about clinching a fourth-straight playoff berth, coach Sigi Schmid said it's "tremendous."

"You look at what all other teams are doing, especially the expansion teams -- there's been a lot of expansion since we've come in -- and I think our record stands alone in what we've been able to accomplish so far," he continued. "It's a tribute to the organization all the way down. We've got a lot of stability, and as a result of that, there's consistency and a belief that we've been able to instill in our club. We've still got big goals this year. The No. 1 goal was to make it back to the playoffs and now we can talk about the other goals from there."

* * *

west standings0929.jpg

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September 29, 2012 8:58 PM

Sounders FC 0, Vancouver 0, video highlights

Posted by Joshua Mayers


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September 29, 2012 8:19 PM

Final: Sounders FC 0, Vancouver 0, live chat

Posted by Joshua Mayers


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September 29, 2012 3:47 PM

Sounders FC vs. Vancouver, lineups

Posted by Joshua Mayers

vancouver away2 2012.JPG

VANCOUVER, B.C.---Welcome to BC Place on a nice Saturday here in Canada.

Not a lot of lineup questions for the Sounders regarding availability; how coach Sigi Schmid decides on his starters will be known in a couple hours. Only forward Omar Salgado is listed on the Whitecaps' injury report, so the hosts are close to full strength, as well (minus the one-game suspension of Dane Richards due to yellow card accumulation).

There are big Cascadia Cup implications in this one. Portland leads the way at 2-0-2, meaning the 1-1-2 Sounders can draw even on points with a win. Vancouver (0-2-2) would be eliminated without a win.

I'll post lineups here when they become available.

Sounders FC lineup: GK Michael Gspurning, D Adam Johansson, D Jeff Parke, D Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, D Leo Gonzalez, M Mauro Rosales, M Osvaldo Alonso, M Christian Tiffert, M Brad Evans, F Fredy Montero, F Eddie Johnson

Sounders FC bench: GK Andrew Weber, D Zach Scott, D Marc Burch, M Andy Rose, M Steve Zakuani, M Mario Martinez, F Sammy Ochoa

Vancouver Whitecaps lineups: GK Brad Knighton, D Lee Young-Pyo, D Andy O'Brien, D Jay DeMerit, D Jordan Harvey, M Gershon Koffie, M Alain Rochat, M Barry Robson M John Thorrington, F Darren Mattocks, F Kenny Miller

Vancouver Whitecaps bench: GK Joe Cannon, D Martin Bonjour, F/M Camilo, M Jun Marques Davidson, F/M Atiba Harris, M Russell Teibert, M Matt Watson.

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September 29, 2012 11:08 AM

Sounders FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, preview and prediction

Posted by Joshua Mayers

Vancouver Whitecaps FC Logo.jpgSounders FC (13-7-9) vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC (10-12-8)
Saturday, Sept. 29, 6 p.m., BC Place, Vancouver, B.C.
National TV: NBC Sports Network (Arlo White, Kyle Martino)
Local radio: 97.3 KIRO-FM (Ross Fletcher, Kasey Keller)
Referee: Silviu Petrescu

KEY WHITECAPS PLAYERS

F Darren Mattocks -- The speedy rookie has been the first name mentioned in Vancouver scouting reports this week primarily due to his game-changing speed. He was a terror to the Sounders back line in the first meeting of the year (less so in the second) and was recently named the No. 1 player in MLSsoccer.com's 24 Under 24 series. He'll get his chances, but will he finish?

M Barry Robson -- The designated player will be playing his first game against Seattle. He hadn't arrived yet for the game in May and was famously suspended for the second game at CenturyLink Field (the announcement came hours before kickoff). He came by way of Middlesbrough, which should be an indication of his talent level.

D Jay DeMerit -- The captain in the back has already suffered some disappointment to a Seattle team this week (the longtime Green Bay Packers fan wasn't thrilled with how Monday Night Football ended). He's been healthier than he was last season, which has helped steady the Vancouver defense. He's played at the highest level, so he should be up for a big game.

Continue reading this post ...


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September 28, 2012 3:07 PM

Sounders FC vs. Vancouver, injury report

Posted by Joshua Mayers

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC -- OUT: FW Babayele Sodade (R knee ACL tear); DF Andrew Duran (L knee ACL surgery); QUESTIONABLE: DF Patrick Ianni (R adductor strain); MF Michael Seamon (back pain); PROBABLE: MF Mauro Rosales (R quad strain); MF Christian Tiffert (R ankle sprain)

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC -- QUESTIONABLE: FW Omar Salgado (R foot fracture)

* * *

The only change for the Sounders from the midweek report is the addition of Mike Seamon. I had noticed the third-year man had been missing the past couple days and asked coach Sigi Schmid about it.

"His back flared up on him," Schmid said. "He's had a sore back and so that's kept him out for a while."

And on Tiffert? How's he doing since taking a shot to the ankle last week from San Jose's Chris Wondolowski?

"He's been OK," the coach said. "He's played and trained through it this week. It hasn't gotten worse. As he said, if he can go two weeks without getting kicked there again, it'll be good. I won't tell you where that is exactly. Obviously he took a knock early from Wondolowski in the last game, but he's done well in training."

Ianni is yet to resume full training from what I've seen.

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September 28, 2012 12:33 PM

Sounders need to run the table to match 2011's franchise-best regular season

Posted by Joshua Mayers

Seattle Sounders FC Logo.jpgThe evaluation of Sounders FC's 2012 season was always going to weigh heavily on the team's success in the MLS Cup playoffs.

But the regular season is important, too, and barring a five-game winning streak to end the year, Seattle will finish with a worse record than it had in 2011.

I asked coach Sigi Schmid about that Friday.

"It doesn't matter to me in terms of how the record compares to last year," he said. "We've got to make the playoffs, we want to try and get second place (in the West), and then we want to put together a much better playoff run than we did last year. I think that is what's going to carry the weight of the season, and I know I'm putting pressure on the team and pressure on myself, as well, by saying it that way. But if we have a better record or not a better record than last year, at the end of the day, people aren't going to remember that nearly as much as they're going to remember what we did in the playoffs."

Here's a look at the past few years:

2012 -- 13-7-9 (through 29 games)
2011 -- 14-6-9 (through 29 games), 18-7-9 (final)
2010 -- 14-9-6 (through 29 games), 14-10-6 (final)
2009 -- 11-7-11 (through 29 games), 12-7-11 (final)

It would be easy to place a lot of the blame on a franchise-worst nine-game winless streak earlier in the year, but the Sounders were on record pace just last week. Seattle, which hasn't played a full strength in over a month, has gone a mediocre 1-1-2 in September to fall behind the 2011 squad.

Through 29 games, this year's group is actually even on points with the 2010 team.

* * *

Do you think the fact that this regular season won't be better than last year's is an indication of something?

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September 28, 2012 10:16 AM

CenturyLink Field has never been busier (Friday links)

Posted by Joshua Mayers

centurylink use.jpgPhoto credit: Bettina Hansen, The Seattle Times

CenturyLink Field is currently in the busiest eight-day stretch in its 11-year history, according to a news release from the Seahawks. The stadium will have hosted an estimated 225,000 fans over the eight days for an NFL game, an MLS game, two Pac-12 football games and a concert.

The team also approximated that 6,500 gallons of Coca-Cola products, 5,000 pounds of hot dogs and 16,000 gallons of beer will have been consumed.

Of course, the big issue for the Sounders and their fans is how the new FieldTurf is going to hold up to all that use -- and don't forget about the hundreds of UW fans that rushed the field after last night's upset win.

I asked coach Sigi Schmid on Friday if he was concerned over the quality of the turf with the recent busy stretch coupled with a pitch invasion.

"As long as they get on there and off there, it's OK," he said. "(Regarding) the wear and tear, it's great that it's new turf. That's been really good I think for us this season because it plays better, and the guys there do a great job of maintaining the field."

Are you concerned? Let's get to some links:

* * *

--- The story of the day is this long-form profile on David Testo, a former soccer player who came out last November. The author, Leander Schaerlaeckens, was interviewed about the piece here.

--- Here's another feature on Philadelphia's Freddy Adu.

--- As of this morning, the North End Faithful had tickets remaining for the Vancouver game tomorrow.

--- Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie was a guest on the most recent ExtraTime Radio.

--- Regarding the Sounders academy, here's a profile on touted defender Jalen Markey, and goalkeeper Paul Christensen was named to the latest U.S. U-17 roster.

--- In the community, tomorrow you can be a part of an effort to set a Guinness World Record for the most people dribbling a soccer ball at the same time. Here's an early reminder for a Special Olympics event next week before the Timbers game.

--- In the CONCACAF Champions League, the Los Angeles Galaxy has clinched a quarterfinal berth thanks to a result between the group's two other teams. Also, here's a look at potential seeding for the final eight.

--- Kickoff times for the 2014 FIFA World Cup have been set (I think it's anywhere from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific Time).

--- Did you see Roman Abramovich's yacht is on the move? (Thanks to a reader for passing that one along)

--- Lastly, what'd you make of Miroslav Klose admitting to the ref that scored with his hand?

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September 27, 2012 2:51 PM

Coach Sigi Schmid on friendlies, Marcus Hahnemann, the Whitecaps, and more

Posted by Joshua Mayers

schmid mug.jpgHere are some highlights from Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid in group interviews the past couple days:

* * *

(With next year's season-ticket package not including a friendly, would you just as soon not have a friendly -- particularly in another year with a CCL quarterfinal?) "I just play games when the club tells me to play games. If they tell me we're having an exhibition, then we'll play the exhibition. I think the players enjoy it. The one year we had three and that was probably too many, but I think big games are certainly something that they enjoy doing. In my years here, the club and the business decisions that they've made have been far more right than wrong, so I'll respect what they do."

(On several league games this year out-drawing the Chelsea friendly...) "I think it shows where our franchise is at, where our fan base is at, and where the rivalries are at, as well. That's something that's good. It's something good for MLS and it's good for our team. I'm hoping with the game with Portland that we sell the place out. That's what we're trying to accomplish and that'll be something very, very, very unique and special. It would be the first time for an MLS game. In the past years and the old years in MLS, you'd look for big crowd numbers and you'd say, 'Who played the international friendly before the game?' And that was their big crowd. Now you say, 'No, this is for this game.' That's something, again, that makes us unique and we take a lot of pride in."

(On Marcus Hahnemann's progress since joining the team and if he's becoming a lineup consideration...) "He's still working on his fitness and so forth. For him right now, there are good days and bad days. There are days where the body feels great and days where the body feels sore. He's right now in preseason, so you have to let him get three weeks under his belt, at least, and then you can start looking at things."

Continue reading this post ...


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September 27, 2012 12:43 PM

"It's Cascadia Cup time."

Posted by Joshua Mayers

Sounders FC's final two Cascadia Cup games are in the next two weeks -- first at Vancouver on Saturday and then against Portland on Oct. 7.

That, of course, provides a clear motivation alongside wanting to earn the Western Conference's No. 2 seed into the playoffs.

"We know these next two games are for the Cup," coach Sigi Schmid said. "We want that to stay with our fans; we think that's where it belongs."

Here are the current Cascadia Cup standings:

Portland: 2-0-2 (8 points)
Seattle: 1-1-2 (5 points)
Vancouver: 0-2-2 (2 points)

The tiebreakers, as posted online, start with head-to-head and continue from there.

The final game in the Pacific Northwest tournament is Oct. 21 when the Whitecaps host the Timbers. And as you can see, a Sounders win this weekend in Vancouver would go a long way to ensuring the trophy is retained.

As Schmid said earlier in the week: "It's Cascadia Cup time."

Added forward Eddie Johnson, who has two goals in two games vs. the Whitecaps: "It doesn't get bigger than a Cascadia game this weekend."

* * *

How about you? Do you think the Sounders to be able to retain the Cascadia Cup?

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September 27, 2012 9:10 AM

CCL update and more (Thursday links)

Posted by Joshua Mayers

ccl standings.jpgSounders FC has already clinched Group 4 but the CONCACAF Champions League is continuing on.

Elsewhere in Seattle's group, CD Marathon of Honduras earned a 2-1 home win Wednesday against Caledonia AIA of Trinidad and Tobago. Posted above are how the standings look with one games to go (the Sounders hosts Marathon on Oct. 24 with only quarterfinal seeding implications on the line).

If you take a look at the full standings, the Los Angeles Galaxy and Houston Dynamo also have good chances of making it to the quarterfinals (LA can clinch tonight if the Puerto Rico Islanders beat Isidro Metapan of El Salvador). Real Salt Lake and Toronto FC have some work to do to make the final eight.

Let's get to some links:

* * *

--- As of yesterday, the ECS still had some game-only ($37) and bus/game tickets ($73) for the Vancouver road game Saturday. You can look into it if interested.

--- Regarding the upcoming Portland game, here's a reminder that Gorilla FC is planting 10 trees for every Sounders goal scored against the Timbers. That will happen on Oct. 14, a week after the game. Oh, and that supporters group is also endorsing Adrian Hanauer in the upcoming GM vote.

--- I love this new results page on MLSsoccer.com.

--- Here's more on your chance to vote on next year's season-ticket holders scarf.

--- Around the league, here's an update on Chris Wondolowski's chase for the MLS scoring record (he also was the best in last week's Castrol rankings), Portland is the only team that hasn't earned a penalty kick yet, and is Toronto FC making its last two home games free?.

--- Also, Peter Nowak's lawsuit against the Union has reportedly been dismissed, here's a preview of Kyle Beckerman's MLS 36 episode, and USMNT defender Michael Orozco talks about wanting to come back to the league.

--- Did you see John Terry was banned four games and fined for his racial abuse of QPR's Anton Ferdinand?

--- Did you see the Zinedine Zidane headbutt from the 2006 FIFA World Cup final has been immortalized with a statue?

--- And lastly, good work by the guys at Sounder at Heart to find the video of Alex Morgan teaching Conan O'Brien how to dance to the Just Dance video game.

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September 26, 2012 5:00 PM

Majority owner Joe Roth on attendance, an expiring jersey deal with Xbox, the NBA/NHL in Seattle, and more

Posted by Joshua Mayers

roth mug.jpgSounders FC majority owner Joe Roth spoke with reporters recently about a few off-the-field issues as the team looks to lock up a fourth-straight playoff berth this weekend in Vancouver. There is some candid stuff in there, particularly regarding an expiring jersey deal with Xbox and potentially bringing the NBA/NHL to Seattle.

* * *

(Is it sustainable to have attendance that's more than twice the league average?) "You've got to hope the league comes up. Listen, one of the critical decisions that I had nothing to do with -- well, I had something to do with it, but it certainly wasn't (my idea) -- is the league wanted us to build like an 18,000-20,000 seat stadium, a soccer-specific stadium here. Tod Leiweke, who was (CEO) here, said, 'No, it wouldn't be big enough.' I didn't know what he was talking about one way or the other. What I did know is that in trying to start a new business, you want to keep the overhead as low as possible. So if you can make a deal (with) a stadium, in case something doesn't work, you're better off not putting $150 million in. What would've happened if we had an 18,000-seat stadium? We average 43,000 people. One of the problems is if (league support) grows, they're going to be outgrowing their stadiums. It happened in Toronto. Toronto built a 20,000-seat stadium and all of a sudden they had a waiting list of 10- or 12,000 people."

(Do those stadiums set a ceiling for expectations?) "You know they're talking about a second team in New York, right? So we're a ways away and have to build a stadium. They're probably going to build a stadium that's like the Red Bulls or Galaxy that's like 25- or 27,000. ... I wouldn't build a stadium less than 35. It's a clearly intimate experience and there are 35,000 people there.

"I won't be happy (here) until all the advertisements are off (the CenturyLink Field upper deck). It was off for three league games this year. Next year, it'll be four league games. To me that's what I want to do is I want to keep building until we can fill this place not just for Portland, L.A. and Vancouver, but for every game."

(Your contract with Xbox as a jersey sponsor ends after next season. Can you provide on update?) "We don't have anybody. We're looking."

Continue reading this post ...


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September 26, 2012 3:43 PM

Mauro Rosales set to return this weekend

Posted by Joshua Mayers

rosales mug.jpgSounders FC midfielder Mauro Rosales has missed the past three games with a quad injury but looks set to return for this weekend's road game in Vancouver.

Asked if he feels ready for Saturday, Rosales said, "Yeah, I think so. I was almost ready for the last game, but we did one more week to be 100-percent fit. ... It's something that I needed -- to be with the ball and playing with them and getting my timing again. It's great. I feel good."

Coach Sigi Schmid backed that up.

"He trained hard yesterday and he felt good today," Schmid said of Rosales. "When I talked to him he said he felt all right, so things look good for him to be able to play on the weekend."

Rosales said the recovery has been mainly precautionary, but he was at a point with his quad where he didn't feel confident crossing or shooting the ball with his right foot.

"I've been working very hard in the gym to get the muscle a little stronger," the midfielder said. "I'm OK now and it's the coach's decision if I'm going to play."

So how are the Sounders different without Rosales on the field?

"You get used to playing with certain players," said Schmid, "and he's a player who has an ability to break down a team when they pack in a little bit. He's a guy with a little bit of that creative element. He's also probably -- with maybe (Christian) Tiffert as an exception -- our best crosser of the ball. He's a guy who seems to find people on those crosses. He hits them a little bit differently, with a little bit less pace, but he finds people. That helps us, as well, from the flanks. He's a guy who the ball goes to when we're playing and he sees a lot of the ball. When he's not in there, you're looking for different people to connect your game."

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September 26, 2012 9:29 AM

Almost time to vote (Wednesday links)

Posted by Joshua Mayers

Sounders FC's commitment to "Democracy in Sports" is catching on around the league, but fans here already knew all about the upcoming vote to retain or remove general manager Adrian Hanauer. The idea was inspired by part owner Drew Carey on a practice shared by FC Barcelona among others.

We'll certainly have more coverage on this the closer we get and throughout the process, but the team released some details on the vote Tuesday and here are some highlights:

--- The vote will run from Oct. 7 (the same day as the big Portland home game) and will run to Dec. 7.
--- Only season-ticket holders and Alliance members are eligible to vote.
--- There must be 10,000 ballots cast for the vote to be valid.
--- The result will be announced during a Dec. 13 business meeting.
--- You can vote in person during home games Oct. 7, 17 or 21.
--- You can also vote online at SoundersFCvote.com, which also has a bunch of FAQs in case you have other questions.

Let's get to some links:

* * *

--- Season-ticket holders and Alliance members can also vote on the design for next year's scarves. Check out the options here.

--- Here's a podcast that wonders if Christian Tiffert was the league's biggest midseason addition.

--- Why is FIFA 13 so popular? ESPN.com takes a look and the MLS Insider was at the launch party. Here's some reaction from Sounders FC's Fredy Montero on being included on the cover (he has his own individual cover available for download, as well).

--- Regarding the Sounders rival to the north, here's a look at Vancouver's playoff push. Another story focuses on new forward Kenny Miller and someone else takes a look at the Whitecaps leading the league in fouls. Also, less than 700 tickets remain for this weekend's game.

--- Here's a story that looks at strength of schedule to close out the season. The finding? Seattle has an easier slate than conference rivals Real Salt Lake and Los Angeles.

--- Toronto FC isn't getting it done in MLS. CCL is another story.

--- In some other links, Soccer America looks closer at the rosters of the playoff contenders, the Union are going to share PPL Park with a Lingerie Football League team, New York's Rafa Marquez is injured again, attendance in D.C. is still a struggle, and here's a story on San Diego soccer fans' affinity for Mexican club Xolos of Tijuana.

--- Lastly, here's to a safe fast for those practicing.

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September 26, 2012 12:22 AM

My MLS power rankings -- Week 29

Posted by Joshua Mayers

San Jose Earthquakes Logo.jpg1. (1) San Jose Earthquakes 18-6-6
It remains Chris Wondolowski's year as three goals last week gives him 22, the most since 2002.

2. (2) Chicago Fire 16-8-5
Red-hot offense, led by Chris Rolfe, has scored two goals or more in the past eight games.

3. (4) Sporting Kansas City 16-7-7
Hosts the Fire on Friday in a battle for Eastern Conf. supremacy on the NBC Sports Network.

4. (6) Los Angeles Galaxy 15-11-4
Defending champs are looking the part with a 12-3-2 run after being in last place in May.

5. (3) New York Red Bulls 14-8-8
Three-straight home games will be a great help for Hans Backe's side to clinch a playoff spot.

Continue reading this post ...


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September 25, 2012 8:07 PM

Sounders react to a wild Seahawks win

Posted by Joshua Mayers

Let's be honest. The Seahawks are the talk of the American sports world right now.

The end to that Monday Night Football game against the Green Bay Packers was one of the craziest things I've ever seen.

I jokingly asked Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid on Tuesday if he had a new perspective on MLS refs in the aftermath of another controversy involving the NFL's replacements refs.

"I wish we could get some of those (refs)," Schmid said with a laugh. "If we could get guys who can make errors on our side like that, we'd be more than happy to have them."

"(The Packers) probably had good reason to be upset. ... Obviously a dramatic ending and great for the Seahawks. Even though the result was maybe was a little tainted there at the end, to be able to play a team like that and play them on even terms is a good thing."

At least a handful of Sounders were in attendance. Defender Zach Scott tweeted a picture from the stands. Bryan Meredith shared a photo, as well. Servando Carrasco, David Estrada and Josh Ford were all shown on the way to the game in this picture from Alex Morgan's Twitter account.

Forward Eddie Johnson was there, too.

"It was amazing, man!" he said. "It was freakin' amazing! I felt like I was on the field when they scored. ... I was jumping. That was the first time I've ever been to a sporting event where I was a fan, man. I was throwing around my Seahawks towel. I had my (Bobby) Wagner jersey on. It was crazy."

Not a Russell Wilson jersey?

"I switch them up," Johnson said. "I've got two of them. Both of them are my buddies. One day I'll wear the Russell; one day I'll wear the (Wagner). I try to support both of them -- two unbelievably great guys. I'm fortunate to know them and they hook me up when I go to games."

After the jump I've added some more tweets...

Continue reading this post ...


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September 25, 2012 5:08 PM

Sounders FC's midweek injury report

Posted by Joshua Mayers

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC -- OUT: FW Babayele Sodade (R knee ACL tear); DF Andrew Duran (L knee ACL surgery); QUESTIONABLE: DF Patrick Ianni (R adductor strain); PROBABLE: MF Mauro Rosales (R quad strain); MF Christian Tiffert (R ankle sprain)

* * *

Changes from the last report? Well, goalkeeper Andrew Weber isn't listed anymore, which falls in line with him playing 90 minutes in Sunday's reserve game against San Jose.

David Estrada is also clear of the report having played as a substitute in Saturday's MLS game and then again Sunday with the reserves.

Ianni is the addition after suffering the injury against the Earthquakes and he trained off to the side Tuesday. Rosales and Tiffert remain on the report, but each looked like they got through a full training session; from what I saw, they look good to go this weekend in Vancouver.

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September 25, 2012 2:54 PM

GM Adrian Hanauer on season-ticket packages, international friendlies and more

Posted by Joshua Mayers

hanauer mug.jpgTo follow up on news from earlier on the day, Sounders FC general manager Adrian Hanauer discussed a few issues related to season-ticket packages and international friendlies after Tuesday's practice. Here is the transcript:

* * *

(Can you talk about the decision to remove the friendly from 2013 season-ticket packages?) "We've obviously done a bunch of friendlies over the years. They've gone really well, we enjoy doing them, but at the same time, we've listened to our fans. It's of course mixed, but some of the feedback is, 'We're way more interested in competitive games than exhibitions.' Although, again, the dichotomy there is Champions League, which is a competition, versus a friendly. But regardless, we decided that we would just go with the 17-game season-ticket package. It doesn't mean we won't do a friendly -- it's still possible -- but we would sell it as a one-off. Also, for us it helps a little bit not being locked in. If there's a good opportunity with the right terms, we can do it. If we get pushed into a corner to accept certain terms from a big club in Europe that thinks they can dictate terms, we can say, 'Thanks but no thanks,' because we won't be forced to do a game."

(Had being locked into friendlies, since they were in season-ticket packages, made it more difficult?) "Not considerable difficulty, but negotiating with a big European club that already thinks they can kind of dictate terms, especially when they see that we have a game scheduled in the summer, and they know we have to do one, it's negotiating from a position of weakness. We'd love to do those games in the future if the right team comes, but it's got to be the right terms and the right situation for our club and our fans. We're too proud and successful to not have more say in how the process plays out."

Continue reading this post ...


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September 25, 2012 9:35 AM

2013 season-ticket packages will consist of 17 MLS games -- no friendly (Tuesday links)

Posted by Joshua Mayers

Seattle Sounders FC Logo.jpgWith the MLS season winding down, Sounders FC fans can renew their season-tickets for 2013 online -- and there will be one major change.

The packages will include just the 17 MLS regular-season games and nothing else. That means for the first time at least one friendly isn't included. Here's the explanation from the team website:

In 2013, your season ticket plan will simply include all 17 MLS home matches. Tickets for any non-MLS matches will be made available separate from the season ticket plan. Season ticket members will be given first priority to purchase.

Coach Sigi Schmid is featured on the website and says, "We understand that these are the most important matches to you, and we are committed to focusing on them."

What do you think? Let's get to some links:

* * *

--- You see Fredy Montero on the cover of the new FIFA 13?

--- You see Michael Gspurning blogging for an Austrian publication?

--- Around MLS, here's some response from a league official on Thierry Henry's suspension, Schmid was quoted on this feature on Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum, and San Jose forward Chris Wondolowski was named MLS Player of the Week (the third player to get the award after playing the Sounders).

--- Also, New England's Lee Nguyen will be out for the year after undergoing shoulder surgery, here's a prospective buyer for AEG (the company in ownership of the Galaxy, Dynamo), and here's a story saying the Dynamo won't be sold to the Rockets' owner.

--- An upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifier at Livestrong Sporting Park (Oct. 16 vs. Guatemala) is sold out.

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September 24, 2012 1:23 PM

Celebrating more than just a goal

Posted by Joshua Mayers

First MLS goal. Sept. 22, 2011.

Add it to the list of milestones in Steve Zakuani's long recovery. As has been covered from a soccer perspective, Saturday's 2-1 loss was a mixed bag for the Sounders FC midfielder.

From a human perspective, there was reason to celebrate -- just look at the emotion in the video above.

What the video doesn't show is Zakuani went down the team bench and eventually landed in the arms of fitness coach Dave Tenney, who has played a significant role in the midfielder's return from the devastating leg injury.

Zakuani was asked about that moment after the game.

"I could have hugged 15 different people -- everyone has been important to me -- but Dave is someone who I've worked with since Day 1 and I really give him a lot of credit for getting me into shape and maximizing the natural abilities I had: the speed, the power," he said.

"He made me fit. ... A lot of credit goes to Dave because he pushes me in training and doesn't let me slack off. Coming back from this, Dave has played a huge role. I just ran toward the bench and there was all of the coaching staff and all of my teammates who have been there for me. I just happened to see Dave, and Dave is really an important guy in my career. That was for him for that reason."

I caught up with Tenney on Sunday after he led a regeneration training session with the starters from the San Jose game. Here was his view of the celebration:

"To be honest, he ran over and I'm thinking first, 'All right, great! He's going to celebrate with the team! I think that's fantastic,'" the fitness coach said. "Obviously (head trainer) Randy Noteboom and (assistant trainer) Chris Cornish have done a great job, so I'm thinking, 'That's great! He's celebrating with the trainers! That's fantastic! They deserve it.'

"Then he jumps at me, which was an honor. It made me feel great because he's worked hard and it's always great when you see someone respond to what we've been trying to do. I always say that my job is to keep guys uncomfortable and always get them to do a little bit more than they want to, and Steve has embraced that. I think that's one of the reasons to why he's back to where he is now."

Continue reading this post ...


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September 24, 2012 10:56 AM

Sounders take a day off (Monday links)

Posted by Joshua Mayers

The Sounders are taking today off from training after working through the weekend, so there won't be any practice notes until Tuesday.

Here are a couple links:

* * *

--- Vancouver rookie Darren Mattocks was ranked No. 1 in MLSsoccer.com's 24 Under 24 series. The Sounders will likely get another look at him this weekend in a Cascadia Cup clash at BC Place.

--- More information was made available on the tragic death of Crew midfielder Kirk Urso.

--- Here's a weekly update on some Sounders academy alums in college.

--- Speaking of college soccer, the Husky men responded from an overtime loss to Brown with a shutout win over Seattle U. The Redhawks were coming off an exciting win over Portland. The UW women are winless in three after dropping their Pac-12 opener at USC. The Seattle U women improved to 5-5 with a win over Utah Valley.

--- Sounder at Heart has been undergoing some changes. Here's an update on Part 3.

--- GoalWA.net has the story on a Cheney High School soccer player who has overcome a brain tumor.

--- U.S. women's national team star Alex Morgan did this video interview with People.com.

--- Here's an MLS video presented by the Marines on Servando Carrasco and his mother, Gloria, a cancer survivor. I covered this story last year for the paper. As a heads-up, the final minute or so is about the Marines.

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September 23, 2012 4:43 PM

A stop and chat with Ezra Hendrickson

Posted by Joshua Mayers

hendrickson mug 2012.jpgSounders FC assistant coach Ezra Hendrickson manages the club's reserve team, which finished it season 4-5-1 after a 3-0 home win Sunday against San Jose. He chatted after the game about the result, the season and a change he'd like to see in the league going forward. Here is the transcript:

* * *

(What are your thoughts on today's result?) "We needed that, because when we played these guys down at their place, they handed it to us 3-0 also. My point to the guys before the game was, 'Hey listen, this is a chance for revenge. We put ourselves in a position where we can't win the league, but at least we remember what happened to us when we went down there.' ... I'm glad we came out and gave them the same kind of beating that they gave to us down at their place."

(You started off strong. Was that the message?) "Well yeah, and added to that I reminded them that down in Portland we had a chance to come back in that game, but we had put ourselves so far down -- 15 minutes into the game we were down 3-0 -- and how hard that was and how hard we had to work to get back into that game. We didn't want to let that happen again today. So we wanted to come out from the start, step up and pressure and move the ball quickly. Just play our philosophy of playing -- quickly out of the back, get the ball to our wingers and our forwards, the guys who play the piano, and let them do their thing. I'm glad with the response I got from them the first 10-15 minutes of the game and I think we took that straight into halftime. It was good that we came out in the second half -- kind of sluggish at first -- but we got a hold of the game and were able to finish them off."

Continue reading this post ...


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September 23, 2012 3:51 PM

Final: Sounders FC 3, SJ Earthquakes 0, Reserve League game thread and box score

Posted by Joshua Mayers

NOTE: More play by play and a full box score available after the jump...

* * *

Final: Sounders FC 3, San Jose 0. Seattle's reserves finish the season 4-5-1. Goals came from Estrada, Martinez and Caskey.

88': Bingham booked for taking out Dismuke near the corner flag. Burch nearly sneaks a free kick inside the near post.

86': Duncan McCormick in for Servando Carrasco. Henry Wingo in for Alex Caskey.

80': Guest player Taylor Mueller comes in for Daniel Steres.

79': GOAL SEATTLE! Alex Caskey makes it 3-0 for the Sounders reserves with a cool finish in the box. He didn't celebrate, as usual.

Continue reading this post ...


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September 23, 2012 12:30 AM

Sigi Schmid: "We can sit there and say, 'The sky is falling,' but I don't think it's falling yet."

Posted by Joshua Mayers

alonso san jose.jpgPhoto credit: Bettina Hansen, The Seattle Times

Here are some quotes and stats from Sounders FC's 2-1 loss at home to San Jose on Saturday. Seattle fell to fourth place in the West with the result and saw a couple nice MLS streaks snapped -- four straight wins at home, five games unbeaten overall.

* * *

SIGI SCHMID, Sounders FC coach

(Opening statement...) "It was a tale of two halves. In the first half, they were the superior team. I thought they killed us in the first half, to be quite honest. We did well to pull a goal back, but then we gave the goal up. I think it's a game tonight that we really lost in the first 20 minutes of the game because they were able to press us and disrupt our rhythm and they were just more aggressive and quicker than we were. The second half, then, was a complete turnaround. I think the second half was our game. I thought we turned the pressure up on them. We started creating turnovers from them, we started winning the ball back, and then we started creating chances -- but now you're down a goal. We couldn't find the goal to equalize. We got close a couple times. We tried to put shots through a bunch of people off corners and things, got deflections, but nothing really fell for us. But I was pleased with our response in the second half and our attitude in the second half and that's the way we have to play. If we play like we played in the first half, we won't go very far, but if we come out and we play like we played in the second half, we'll be OK."

Continue reading this post ...


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September 22, 2012 11:02 PM

Sounders drop to fourth place in the West

Posted by Joshua Mayers

MLS Logo.jpgPosted below are the updated standings in the Western Conference after Saturday night's MLS games. Sounders FC dropped from second to fourth but has a game on hand on both the Los Angeles Galaxy and Real Salt Lake -- two teams that clinched playoff berths Saturday when Seattle could not.

The Sounders have games against both competitors for the No. 2 seed in the final five games of the season:

Sept. 29 -- at Vancouver
Oct. 7 -- vs. Portland
Oct. 17 -- vs. Real Salt Lake
Oct. 21 -- vs. FC Dallas
Oct. 28 -- at LA Galaxy

I asked coach Sigi Schmid about the ramifications of falling to fourth place, particularly after he mentioned wanting to avoid falling past the No. 3 seed (the fourth and fifth seeded teams in the West play a one-game playoff before likely facing San Jose in the conference semifinals).

"We just need to make sure we win games," said Schmid, who noted the game in hand. "We can sit there and say, 'The sky is falling,' but I don't think it's falling yet."

Once again, Seattle needs just a tie in their next league game in Vancouver to clinch a playoff spot.

The only way the Sounders won't clinch a playoff berth is if they lose their remaining five games and FC Dallas wins all four of its remaining games. Also, Dallas would have to outscore Seattle by at least 10 goals due to the goal-scored tiebreaker.

Seems like a formality at this point; the important thing will be at least a top-three finish.

* * *

standings0922.jpg

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September 22, 2012 10:19 PM

San Jose 2, Sounders FC 1, video highlights

Posted by Joshua Mayers


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September 22, 2012 9:26 PM

Final: San Jose 2, Sounders FC 1, live chat

Posted by Joshua Mayers


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September 22, 2012 6:49 PM

Sounders FC vs. San Jose, lineups

Posted by Joshua Mayers

san jose home.jpg

It's a pleasant evening here at CenturyLink Field for an MLS showcase tonight between Sounders FC and the San Jose Earthquakes.

The big question coming into the weekend was the availability of Christian Tiffert (ankle) and Mauro Rosales (quad) -- though coach Sigi Schmid gave strong indications in a KIRO interview yesterday that Tiffert would be able to go and Rosales wouldn't.

As a reminder, Seattle can clinch a playoff berth with a win or tie, but realistically needs a win to stay in the Supporters' Shield race (San Jose has a nine-point lead). The Sounders could also drop as far as fourth in the Western Conference with a loss and wins by Real Salt Lake and the Los Angeles Galaxy.

I'll post lineups here when they become available.

Sounders FC lineup: GK Michael Gspurning, D Adam Johansson, D Jeff Parke, D Patrick Ianni, D Leo Gonzalez, M Christian Tiffert, M Osvaldo Alonso, M Brad Evans, M Steve Zakuani, F Fredy Montero, F Sammy Ochoa

Sounders FC bench: GK Andrew Weber, D Marc Burch, D Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, D Zach Scott, M Andy Rose, M Mario Martinez, F David Estrada

San Jose Earthquakes lineup: GK Jon Busch, D Steven Beitashour, D Jason Hernandez, D Victor Bernardez, D Justin Morrow, M Mehdi Ballouchy, M Rafael Baca, M Sam Cronin, M Simon Dawkins, F Chris Wondolowski, F Alan Gordon

San Jose Earthquakes bench: GK David Bingham, D/M Ramiro Corrales, F Steven Lenahrt, M Khari Stephenson, D Jef Zayner, D Ike Opara, M Brad Ring

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September 22, 2012 11:37 AM

Sounders FC vs. San Jose, preview and prediction

Posted by Joshua Mayers

San Jose Earthquakes Logo.jpgSounders FC (13-6-9) vs. San Jose Earthquakes (17-6-6)
Saturday, Sept. 22, 7:30 p.m., CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash.
TV/radio: KONG-TV 6/16, KIRO-FM 97.3 (Ross Fletcher, Kasey Keller)
Spanish radio: La Gran D 99.3 FM
Referee: Hilario Grajeda

KEY EARTHQUAKES PLAYERS

F Chris Wondolowski -- Who else? He's nearly a runaway for MLS MVP with 21 goals this season in 27 games. As a comparison, Chivas USA as a team has 21 goals in 28 games. He also has seven assists, which would be good enough for second-best on the Sounders. Has an incredible talent for moving in the box, timing his runs, being in the right place and finishing chances. Has done well against Seattle, too, with four goals in the series.

M Simon Dawkins -- Another weapon in an arsenal where four players have seven or more goals and four players have seven or more assists. He's more of a goal-scorer from midfield with seven on the season. On loan from Tottenham Hotspur of the Premier League in England -- you might know it as Clint Dempsey's new team -- which is a good indicator of his talent.

D/M Ramiro Corrales -- The steady veteran is the only one in MLS who played in the league's inaugural 1996 season. He's got eight assists from his left flank and also a couple goals scored directly off free kicks. Might have a matchup advantage on his side of the field if Mauro Rosales isn't able to start. Had a season-high four shots earlier this week vs. Portland.

Continue reading this post ...


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September 21, 2012 4:03 PM

Sounders FC vs. San Jose injury report

Posted by Joshua Mayers

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC -- OUT: FW Babayele Sodade (R knee ACL tear); DF Andrew Duran (L knee ACL surgery); QUESTIONABLE: GK Andrew Weber (R adductor strain); PROBABLE: MF Mauro Rosales (R quad strain); MF Christian Tiffert (R ankle sprain); FW David Estrada (L foot fracture)

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES -- OUT: MF Cesar Diaz Pizarro (R groin strain); MF Joey Gjertsen (R knee surgery); MF Sercan Guvenisik (L hamstring strain); DF Tim Ward (L non-specific soft tissue injury); DOUBTFUL: MF Marvin Chavez (L hamstring strain); MF Sam Garza (R ankle sprain)

* * *

The only change for the Sounders is the upgrade of Estrada from "questionable."

When it comes to the other midfielders, Tiffert is ready to go, coach Sigi Schmid told KIRO's Bill Swartz. Rosales is still not quite there yet, Schmid added. Both updates appear consistent with what I observed at training.

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September 21, 2012 3:16 PM

Coach Sigi Schmid on the big San Jose game, injuries, Marcus Hahnemann and more

Posted by Joshua Mayers

schmid mug.jpgUPDATE 3:57 p.m. -- Schmid told KIRO's Bill Swartz that Sammy Ochoa will indeed start for the suspended Eddie Johnson. The coach also said Christian Tiffert is "ready to go" and will play in midfield after missing a game with an ankle injury. Mauro Rosales is "not quite there," according to Schmid, and could miss his third-straight game with a quad strain, it seems.

Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid spoke with reporters after Friday's practice. Here is the full transcript:

* * *

(Is this pretty much do or die to stay in the Supporters' Shield race?) "Yeah, I think for us to make any run at the Supporters' Shield, we need to win this game on Saturday. More so than anything, it's a good measuring stick for us -- a measuring stick for them, as well. It should be a great game for the fans and for the league. It's a game that we're looking forward to."

(Is this starting to develop into a rivalry?) "I don't know. ... They're a team that's a good team and our games with them this year have been close. Every game has been close. Everything has been a one-goal game with last-second victories, with a victory where a team holding on, with maybe a questionable call in another game -- so all the games have been close."

(What is it about their tendency for scoring late?) "As a team, you develop a belief over the course of a season. They've developed that belief. They're a good team, they knock the ball around, but when it gets late into a game, sometimes they go with the two targets up front -- Lenhart and Gordon, the two spearheads -- and they become very direct in their play. They're good and quick at trying to get onto the second ball, winning knockdowns and creating havoc in your box. There's an energy that they bring into the game in the last 15 minutes. There's a belief that they have now and a confidence that they have, which comes from winning games like that. It's all those things together."

Continue reading this post ...


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September 21, 2012 10:09 AM

More than 60,000 tickets sold for Oct. 7 home game against Portland

Posted by Joshua Mayers

crowd la.jpgPhoto credit: Bettina Hansen, The Seattle Times

Can the Sounders sell out CenturyLink Field for an MLS game?

Well, they might have a chance in a couple weeks. According to a team spokesman, more than 60,000 tickets have been sold for an Oct. 7 home game against the Portland Timbers.

The rivalry bout was included in four-game ticket packages earlier this year that went in conjunction with opening up more sections of CenturyLink Field; single-game tickets remain on sale through all the usual outlets, including the team website.

The Portland game will assuredly be the most attended game so far this season (60,908 came for the Galaxy game on Aug. 5).

The highest-attended MLS game in team history was the 64,140 that attended Kasey Keller's farewell game last year against San Jose.

The largest crowd ever for any Sounders game -- well, the largest in Pacific Northwest history for that matter -- was the 67,052 that attended the Manchester United friendly in the summer of 2011.

The MLS record for attendance in a game not part of a doubleheader, according to this Soccer America story, was the 69,225 for the Galaxy league opener in 1996. That is followed by the 66,237 that watch David Beckham's first game with the Galaxy in New York's Giants Stadium. The aforementioned Keller game ranks third all-time.

* * *

What do you think? Will the Sounders be able to fill the entire stadium for the Timbers game?

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September 21, 2012 9:10 AM

Reminder: Sounders FC's home game against San Jose is Saturday, not Sunday

Posted by Joshua Mayers

The Sounders have done a good job with reminders (tweets, phone calls, etc.) about this weekend's rescheduled home game against the San Jose Earthquakes, but I wanted to offer one, as well.

The game was originally scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 23, but in May the game was moved to Saturday, Sept. 22.

For the sake of the clarity, here it is one more time: Sounders FC's home game this weekend against San Jose is at 7:30 p.m. SATURDAY at CenturyLink Field.

Why the change?

Well, the Seahawks are hosting the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football and having an extra day in between was requested to help ease the set up and breakdown for the production.

Hope you're able to spread the word.

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September 21, 2012 8:54 AM

Quick turnaround (Friday links)

Posted by Joshua Mayers

The Sounders returned from Honduras yesterday and will have one day's preparation for a big MLS showdown with league-leading San Jose. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. Saturday at CenturyLink Field (note the schedule change from Sunday) and Seattle has to win to have any realistic chance of pushing for the Supporters' Shield.

Also, by way of a Chivas USA's midweek loss, the Sounders can officially clinch a playoff berth with a win or tie.

I'll have more updates from practice later today. Until then, here are some links:

* * *

--- According to this ESPN.com story, soccer is the second-most popular sport in this country for kids ages 12-14 and Leo Messi is more popular here than Dwyane Wade.

--- Is Fredy Montero an MLS MVP candidate? Sure, but he's got a few others on his own team, too ... and everyone might as well be playing for second place the way Chris Wondolowski is going. Also, I don't know if I expected Montero to win MLS Goal of the Week, but he did.

--- Here's a pretty cool look at Steve Zakuani's game last weekend in Portland.

--- Here's a story on Sounders FC academy product Ike Crook and another on Fernando Monge, who played with the U-23s this summer. Also, here's another look at youth development in this country as a whole.

--- Around MLS, Fire midfielder Alvaro Fernandez has some comments on the trade that sent him to Chicago, and here's a look at disappointment in D.C. over DP Hamdi Salihi.

--- The U.S. women's national team beat Australia, 6-2, the other day in what was coach Pia Sundhage's last game with the team.

--- It sounds like the Canadian Soccer Association might be interested in being a part of the new women's professional soccer league.

--- Elsewhere in world soccer, it sounds like Mexico is going to make a push to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup and and FIFA wasn't all too excited about Jamaica fans' pitch invasion after beating the U.S. earlier in qualifying.

--- Also, I don't think American goalkeeper Brad Friedel will be sending Fabien Barthez a Christmas card after some recent comments.

--- UW men's soccer coach Jamie Clark will be meeting a familiar foe this weekend.

--- Lastly, what a great goal...

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September 20, 2012 1:21 PM

Sounders have matched their record pace through 28 MLS games

Posted by Joshua Mayers

Seattle Sounders FC Logo.jpgNOTE: This is a prescheduled post since today is a furlough day. I just wanted to have at least something on the blog during my day off.

Sounders FC will hope to close the gap on MLS-leading San Jose in Saturday's home game at CenturyLink Field. But while Seattle is currently off the pace in the Supporters' Shield race, the team has matched its club-record pace through 28 league games.

Here's a look:

2012: 13-6-9 (48 points)
2011: 13-6-9 (48 points)
2010: 13-9-6 (45 points)
2009: 10-7-11 (41 points)

To keep up with the 2011 Sounders, who finished 18-7-9 for a franchise-best 63 points, this year's team will have to win the next three and five of the last six. In the club's first two years, the MLS regular season was only 30 games long, so the comparisons for those teams will end soon.

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September 19, 2012 11:24 PM

Brad Evans: "This win under our belt will help us along the way in the long run."

Posted by Joshua Mayers

evans marathon.jpgPhoto credit: Courtesy of Seattle Sounders FC

Here are some team-provided quotes and stats from Sounders FC's 3-2 road win Wednesday against CD Marathon of Honduras. As a result, Seattle became the first team in the competition to clinch a berth into the quarterfinals. It also renders an Oct. 24 CCL game as meaningless, allowing the Sounders to focus solely on the Supporters' Shield race and the hunt for an MLS Cup.

* * *

SIGI SCHMID, Sounders FC coach

(On qualifying for the CCL quarterfinals...) "It's tremendous. It's a goal we set for ourselves -- that we want to qualify tonight -- and we were able to accomplish that. It means that the last game now, which is during the last week of our season right before an important game with LA ... we can go into that game relaxed and free of mind. I was really proud. Obviously we put a lot of players out there who aren't regularly in our starting lineup, but I thought they came through and they played very, very well."

Continue reading this post ...


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September 19, 2012 8:57 PM

Final: Sounders FC 3, Marathon 2, live chat

Posted by Joshua Mayers

* * *

Sounders FC lineup: GK Michael Gspurning, D Zach Scott, D Patrick Ianni, D Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, D Marc Burch, M Mario Martinez, M Servando Carrasco, M Andy Rose, M Alex Caskey, F Sammy Ochoa, F Eddie Johnson

Sounders FC bench: GK Josh Ford, D Jeff Parke, D Leo Gonzalez, M Osvaldo Alonso, M Cordell Cato, M Brad Evans, F Fredy Montero

CD Marathon lineup: GK Jose Mendoza, D Mauricio Sabillon, D Luis Castro, D Pastor Martinez, D Mario Berrios, M Junior Sandoval, M Mariano Acevedo, M Reinieri Mayorquin, M Julian Rapalo; F Glen Brown, F Randy Diamond

CD Marathon bench: GK Shane Moody Orio, M David Meza, F Rony Flores, M Christian Altamirano, F Marco Vega, D Quiarol Arzu, D Manuel De Jesus Dono.

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September 19, 2012 1:07 PM

David Estrada: "I had a good end to my year (in 2011) and I'm just trying to finish off strong again."

Posted by Joshua Mayers

estrada three.jpgPhoto credit: Dean Rutz, The Seattle Times

David Estrada scored three goals in Sounders FC's season-opening win against Toronto FC (pictured above).

Interestingly, besides Fredy Montero and Eddie Johnson, no Sounder has matched that production in 28 MLS games. That's right, no one on the team besides those three has scored more than twice. So, yes, it will be nice to have Estrada -- the team's third-leading scorer with five goals -- back in the mix after missing more than three months with a broken left foot.

The initial hope was a 8-12 month week recovery.

"It took a little longer than we had hoped," said coach Sigi Schmid. "The fracture was, I guess, a little more severe than the last one (Estrada suffered in college) and there was also another type of stress element that was at work there. That's why it took him a little bit longer."

Estrada played his first minutes since the injury on Sunday. He featured in the second half of a reserve game in Portland as the Sounders nearly completed a three-goal comeback but ultimately suffered a 3-2 loss.

"It was just nice to get touches on the ball," Estrada said. "I know as a forward your job is to score goals, but for me it was just getting touches and hopefully having a positive impact on the team."

Estrada said he felt good playing 45 minutes but might not be ready yet for starter's minutes. But as a sub?

"For that I know I'm ready," he said.

Continue reading this post ...


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September 19, 2012 11:25 AM

Strong squad in Honduras (Wednesday links)

Posted by Joshua Mayers

ccl logo.jpgIt's game day for the Sounders in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and judging by the players seen in the preview on the team website (and this photo gallery), it looks like Seattle brought a strong squad.

We knew Mauro Rosales, Christian Tiffert and Marcus Hahnemann wouldn't be on the trip, per coach Sigi Schmid earlier in the week, but it appears this was the travel squad of 20:

Fredy Montero, Eddie Johnson, Osvaldo Alonso, Michael Gspurning, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Brad Evans, Mario Martinez, Leo Gonzalez, Andy Rose, Alex Caskey, Marc Burch, Patrick Ianni, Zach Scott, Sammy Ochoa, Cordell Cato, Servando Carrasco, Josh Ford, Mike Seamon, Bryan Meredith

Kickoff in the CONCACAF Champions League group game is 7 p.m. and FOX Soccer has the broadcast. I'll have a live chat going during the game.

Let's get to some links:

* * *

--- Time is running out to renew your Sounders Women's season tickets.

--- Did you know Kasey Keller will be at the Seattle U-Portland men's soccer game Friday to help with the coin toss?

--- A couple big stories in MLS: AEG, which owns the Los Angeles Galaxy among other big L.A. establishments, has announced is it up for sale, and here's more on a messy lawsuit between the Philadelphia Union and former coach Peter Nowak.

--- MLSsoccer.com has some interesting data to help show the impact Tiffert has on the Sounders FC attack.

--- Montero was named to the MLS Team of the Week on the league website, was also the only Sounder listed in the Castrol Index for last week and was featured in this story on Colombians in MLS.

--- Elsewhere around the league, D.C. United player/coach Josh Wolff had to undergo surgery and Real Salt Lake earned a late CCL win Tuesday with a PK in stoppage time.

--- Here are the scores and a recap of the UEFA Champions League action yesterday -- boy, that Real Madrid-Manchester City game was a fun one late -- and here's how some Americans did.

--- U.S. women's national team captain Christie Rampone is going to keep at it at 37 years old.

--- Lastly, lots of Alex Morgan stuff in the news recently: here's a profile in the Los Angeles Times, more from the Associated Press, a Twitter talk with SI.com and a health/fitness video that follows her the day before a game:

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September 18, 2012 10:03 PM

My MLS power rankings -- Week 28

Posted by Joshua Mayers

San Jose Earthquakes Logo.jpg1. (1) San Jose Earthquakes 17-6-5
Winners of three straight, and Wondolowski's 19 goals are most in an MLS season since 2008.

2. (5) Chicago 15-8-5
An emerging MLS Cup contender? Has been on fire -- pardon the pun -- since August (6-1).

3. (4) New York Red Bulls 14-7-7
Thierry Henry scored one of the goals of the year, an Olimpico from directly off a corner kick.

4. (2) Sporting Kansas City 15-7-6
Boasts the best road record in the league (7-2-4) heading into games at New York, Montreal.

5. (3) Seattle Sounders FC 13-6-9
Fredy Montero matched his career high with 12th goal of season Saturday in Portland.

Continue reading this post ...


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September 18, 2012 4:02 PM

Sounders FC's midweek injury report

Posted by Joshua Mayers

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC -- OUT: FW Babayele Sodade (R knee ACL tear); DEF Andrew Duran (L ACL surgery); QUESTIONABLE: GK Andrew Weber (R adductor strain); FW David Estrada (L foot fracture); PROBABLE: MF Mauro Rosales (R quad strain); MF Christian Tiffert (R ankle sprain)

* * *

This is pretty close to the last report from before the Portland game. The only difference is midfielders Osvaldo Alonso (head injury) and Andy Rose (rib fracture) are no longer listed.

Coach Sigi Schmid has given multiple indications in the last few days that Rosales and Tiffert should be able to go Saturday vs. San Jose, this after both missed last weekend's game in Portland despite a "probable" listing. The DP pair didn't travel to Honduras.

Estrada got his first action in three months with the reserves Sunday, but also didn't make the Honduras trip. He's still working his way back into game shape and form but said he feels ready to come off the bench.

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September 18, 2012 10:09 AM

Playoff berths up for grabs (Tuesday links)

Posted by Joshua Mayers

MLS Logo.jpgMLS has released possible scenarios for three Western Conference teams clinching playoff berths this week.

As I mentioned here over the weekend, Sounders FC is one of those teams and would clinch a fourth-straight trip to the postseason by beating league-leading San Jose on Saturday. MLS noted Seattle would also clinch a berth with a tie if Chivas USA doesn't win both Wednesday against Columbus and Saturday against D.C. United.

Come Saturday, the Sounders could know if a tie is all they need, but surely they'll be gunning for a win to have any hope of catching the Earthquakes in the Supporters' Shield race.

The other teams that can clinch a berth this week are Real Salt Lake and the Los Angeles Galaxy. Both their scenarios are exactly the same: Win on Saturday (RSL plays Portland and LA faces Toronto) and have Chivas USA not win both its games.

As a reminder, San Jose has already clinched a playoff berth, and Toronto FC and New England have each been mathematically eliminated from postseason contention.

Let's get to some links:

* * *

--- Our columnist Steve Kelley covered the return of Marcus Hahnemann in the newspaper for us today. You can read that piece here. The new goalkeeper was also a guest on MLSsoccer.com's ExtraTime Radio (he comes in at about the 23:00 mark).

--- Sounds like the Sounders-Timbers game over the weekend drew a 0.4 rating on NBC, which isn't great, but it was always going to be difficult competing against college football.

--- Here are the minutes from the latest Alliance Council meeting.

--- Fredy Montero was nominated for MLS Goal of the Week but faces some serious competition.

--- Around the league, Real Salt Lake plays a big game in the CONCACAF Champions League tonight, Red Bulls star Thierry Henry was MLS Player of the Week, and here's an update from San Jose on new arrival Marcus Tracy.

--- Sounders FC academy played Jacob Hauser-Ramsey has committed to play college ball at Cincinnati.

--- Here's a story on new research showing NFL players suffer more knee and ankle injuries while playing on FieldTurf as opposed to grass (ACL injuries in particular).

--- KickTV's Jimmy Conrad was in Portland over the weekend. He had this interview with Timbers owner Merritt Paulson and provided this video from the game:

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September 17, 2012 11:34 PM

Sounders FC's final 2012 roster

Posted by Joshua Mayers

Seattle Sounders FC Logo.jpgWith the freeze of MLS rosters over the weekend, I had a request from a reader to post what will be Sounders FC's squad through the MLS Cup (with or without Seattle's involvement).

The signing of veteran goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann was the only made the Sounders made before the deadline; the team had also brought in Eidur Gudjohnsen and George Ogararu on trial. GM Adrian Hanauer discussed those situations a bit more in this post.

Here's your final Sounders FC roster for 2012 (some positions are interchangeable):

Goalkeepers (5): Michael Gspurning, Marcus Hahnemann, Andrew Weber, Josh Ford, Bryan Meredith

Defenders (9): Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Patrick Ianni, Zach Scott, Adam Johansson, Leo Gonzalez, Marc Burch, Daniel Steres, Andrew Duran

Midfielders (11): Osvaldo Alonso, Mauro Rosales, Christian Tiffert, Steve Zakuani, Brad Evans, Mario Martinez, Andy Rose, Alex Caskey, Servando Carrasco, Cordell Cato, Michael Seamon

Forwards (4): Fredy Montero, Eddie Johnson, Sammy Ochoa, David Estrada

Injured list (1): Babayele Sodade

On loan (1): Michael Tetteh

* * *

A couple notes, this is 31 players under contract but Sodade and Tetteh don't count toward the 30-man active roster (though those two are eligible for future MLS Reserve League and CONCACAF Champions League games). This is also the first time the Sounders have had five goalkeepers under contract.

Update 9:33 a.m. -- I've been asked to clarify the situations of Sodade and Tetteh. Both are under contract but not on the active roster (Sodade because he's on the injured list and Tetteh because he's with another team on loan). This means that they're not eligible for MLS games, regular season and playoffs. Essentially anyone, however, can play reserve games. Also, anyone under contract is eligible to play in CCL and Open Cup games.

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September 17, 2012 6:35 PM

A stop and chat with Marcus Hahnemann

Posted by Joshua Mayers

hahnemann interview2.jpgMarcus Hahnemann, Sounders FC's newest acquisition, had his first practice with the team Monday (photo gallery) and spoke with the media afterward for about 16 minutes. The veteran goalkeeper covered a number of topics, as you might expect.

Hahnemann is a fun and thoughtful quote in the Kasey Keller mold, so I think you'll enjoy the transcript of the long interview:

* * *

(What are your thoughts on this actually happening?) "I was blown away. I talked to (GM Adrian Hanauer) last week and he just said, 'Look, there might be a way we can do something. Do you still want to play?' and I was like, 'Really?' He was like, 'Yeah. Come out and train.' So I came out and trained with (goalkeeper coach Tommy Dutra and Andrew Weber) and went for an hour and (Hanauer) goes, 'You still want to play?' And I go, 'For you guys, yeah.' It was simple as that."

(A nearby train whistles very loudly, so Hahnemann responded in that direction...) "Thanks!"

(Then to the media...) "(The trains) go right past my house in Cle Elum."

(And back to the train...) "Thanks! Thanks guys! Love ya!"

(Then Hahnemann continued his answer...) "It was just something that we thought had slipped through the fingers and gone by the wayside, and then all of a sudden it's happening. It didn't quite make sense. Adrian called me up on Friday and goes, 'Come in and just sign some stuff and let's get everything done. I think we can do it.' You're still not 100-percent sure if it's actually going to happen. Everything just came into place."

Continue reading this post ...


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September 17, 2012 4:04 PM

Sounders can clinch advancement out of CCL group stage with a win Wednesday

Posted by Joshua Mayers

ccl logo.jpgThis was covered after the last CONCACAF Champions League game, but it's been a while, so here's a reminder: Sounders FC can clinch advancement out of the CCL group stage with a road win Wednesday at CD Marathon of Honduras.

Seattle leads Group 4 with a 2-0 record, meaning Marathon (0-0-1) won't be able to catch up with a loss. Last-place Caledonia AIA of Trinidad & Tobago has already been eliminated from advancement with a 0-2-1 record.

"We want to finish this thing off so the (group-stage finale) when we come back here ... doesn't matter," said defender Patrick Ianni. "Definitely a tie would be good; a win would put it to rest, which is what we want to do so ... we can just focus on MLS Cup when we get back."

With a tie Wednesday, the Sounders would need at least a tie in its final group game on Oct. 24 vs. Marathon. That game, of course, comes four days before Seattle's last game in the MLS regular season -- a visit to the Los Angeles Galaxy that could have playoff seeding implications.

But there's another thing to consider: Saturday's home game against league-leading San Jose, which is essentially a must win for the Sounders to stay in the Supporters' Shield race.

"If we could clinch the (CCL) group that's something we want to do," said coach Sigi Schmid, "but we also want to keep our eye on the game on Saturday and make sure that we're ready for that one, as well."

Since forward Eddie Johnson is suspended for Saturday's game due to yellow card accumulation, he will travel to Honduras, Schmid said. Also traveling will be goalkeepers Michael Gspurning, Josh Ford and Bryan Meredith, according to the coach.

Among those not traveling are Mauro Rosales (quad), Christian Tiffert (ankle) and David Estrada (foot), who are all in the final stages of recovery from injury.

"We're leaving them at home," Schmid said. "I think they're close. I think Rosales could probably play if we needed to. Tiffert could probably play in this one if we needed to. We're going to hold them a little bit for Saturday.

"Estrada, those were his first minutes on Sunday in the reserve game. Practice is practice, games are games, so it's a little bit different soreness for him today and we're going to leave him here."

* * *

What do you think about the rest of the week with the CCL game Wednesday and the big MLS game Saturday? How would you play it?

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September 17, 2012 1:39 PM

Photo gallery of Marcus Hahnemann's first practice with the Sounders

Posted by Joshua Mayers

My photography skills are notoriously mediocre, but I busted out the point-and-shoot camera Monday for Marcus Hahnemann first official practice as a Sounders FC goalkeeper.

It's not print worthy, but hopefully it brings you a little closer to the action.

I'll have more from our interview with Hahnemann later this afternoon.

* * *

Hahnemann admitted he felt "really retired" last week, but said he's here to play and hopes to be with the team through the 2013 season.
hahnemann2.JPG

Continue reading this post ...


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September 17, 2012 1:09 PM

GM Hanauer on the Hahnemann deal, the roster freeze, the allocation process and more

Posted by Joshua Mayers

hanauer mug.jpgSounders FC general manager Adrian Hanauer spoke to reporters after Monday's practice to address a number of topics, including signing Marcus Hahnemann and the final days before the roster freeze with George Ogararu and Eidur Gudjohnsen in camp.

Here is the transcript of that interview:

* * *

(Can you take us through the last few days of the transfer window?) "Sure. It's no secret: Obviously we had George (Ogarau) here, we had Eidur (Gudjohnsen) here. Marcus came in at the end there. You always wish you can do more -- we want to be the strongest team possible -- but in the end it's a salary-cap league. There was really only one move we could make at the end. We're happy to have gotten Marcus -- adds, again, more strength, more depth to an already strong roster. We'll certainly keep in contact with both George and Eidur and you never know what happens in the future."

(Was it an either-or situation in signing Hahnemann or one of the other guys?) "We were trying to manipulate things a little bit, where it didn't necessarily have to be an either-or. In the end, it did. It was sort of a situation where we were able to make one signing. George (has a) big family at home, wife just giving birth or gave birth to their fourth child -- things were a little bit complicated there given that we weren't going to have a lot of money (to offer). There's obviously not much time left in the season and ultimately those were sort of the two issues that we ran into with both George and Eidur is we had very little money and very little time and very little flexibility. Marcus, local guy, the deal came together at the last minute to try and trade up in the allocation ranking. So there were a lot of moving parts the whole time. But again, we're thrilled to have Marcus now."

Continue reading this post ...


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September 17, 2012 8:40 AM

A goal to remember (Monday links)

Posted by Joshua Mayers

You have to see this goal by Red Bulls star Thierry Henry against Columbus over the weekend. They call these Olimpicos or Olympic goals when they're scored directly off a corner kick.

If you remember, Chicago Fire midfielder Marco Pappa had one of those against the Sounders earlier this season.

Henry's latest could very well by an MLS Goal of the Year candidate.

Let's get to some links:

* * *

--- Let's start off on the local college scene where the UW men split a couple games in Alabama and had a few guys named to an all-tournament team. The Husky women suffered their first loss of the season against BYU. Over at Seattle U, the men and women both lost over the weekend.

--- Around MLS, Real Salt Lake sneaked in a signing before the roster freeze, Colorado made a late addition too, the Galaxy and league are being sued over the Robbie Keane signing, and New England was eliminated from possible playoff contention with a loss in D.C.

--- Also, FC Dallas' Julian de Guzman scored a late winner vs. Vancouver (his phenomenal goal here) and opened up with some interesting quotes afterward.

--- Did you see an armadillo will be the mascot for the FIFA World Cup 2014?

--- Fans voted "Aviators" as the team name for the new PASL team in Arlington and here's some information on tryouts for the Tacoma Stars.

--- Regarding some Americans abroad, Clint Dempsey made his debut for Tottenham and Jozy Altidore is on fire in the Dutch league.

--- Lastly, the U.S. women's national team came back to beat Australia, 2-1, behind a stellar goal by Alex Morgan. Check out the federation's YouTube page for highlights and interviews.

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September 16, 2012 8:29 PM

David Estrada returns as Sounders reserves lose, 3-2, in Portland

Posted by Joshua Mayers

estrada mug 2012.jpgThe Sounders relied heavily on academy players to fill out a lineup for Sunday's MLS Reserve League game in Portland, but the big story in the 3-2 loss was the return of David Estrada.

Seattle's breakout forward/midfielder had been out for three months with a broken left foot.

Estrada, who still ranks third on the team with five MLS goals, played the second half as the Sounders came back to make things interesting after conceding thrice before halftime. His last game action had come in a June 5 game against Cal FC in the U.S. Open Cup.

In front of 8,968 fans at Jeld-Wen Field, the Timbers got goals from Mike Fucito (an ex-Sounder), Brent Richards (a former UW standout) and Kris Boyd (perhaps the highest-paid reserve in the league). Seattle responded with goals from academy members Jordan Morris and Isidro Prado-Huerta.

Portland's reserves finished the season 4-5-1. The Sounders reserves are 3-5-1 and play their last game next Sunday, a 2 p.m. home game against San Jose at Starfire.

Box score of Sunday's game after the jump...

Continue reading this post ...


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September 16, 2012 9:34 AM

Playoff update: Sounders can clinch a playoff berth with a win vs. San Jose

Posted by Joshua Mayers

MLS Logo.jpgI'm not the best at number crunching, but I'm fairly certain Sounders FC can clinch its fourth-straight playoff berth with a win at home Saturday against the league-league San Jose Earthquakes.

A win would give Seattle 51 points -- a total that couldn't be reached by FC Dallas, Colorado, Portland or Chivas USA and thus ensuring the Sounders a top-five finish in the Western Conference.

There might be other scenarios involving other teams that could clinch a Seattle playoff berth this upcoming weekend, as well, and I'd expect the league will announce those Tuesday morning in its weekly release.

I'm not entirely sure a Sounders-Earthquakes tie will clinch a berth for the Seattle since Chivas USA, with seven games in hand, can theoretically since reach 49 points.

Here's a quick glance at the standings in the West:

west standings.jpg

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September 15, 2012 5:54 PM

Fredy Montero: "We know we can be better, but at the same time we know to tie in this place is so difficult."

Posted by Joshua Mayers

Seattle Sounders FC Logo.jpgHere are some quotes and stats from Sounders FC's 1-1 tie Saturday in Portland. The result ensures the Cascadia Cup will return to Seattle, at least this weekend.

* * *

SIGI SCHMID, Sounders FC coach

(Opening comments...) "Obviously for them it was a very emotional game. You saw by all their players that went out injured and cramping up and little niggling muscle injuries toward the end that they had expended everything that they had in this game. From that standpoint I was pleased we were able to keep them at bay for the majority of the game. Once we got the lead, I thought we played a little better in the second half finding Andy Rose to get out of the back rather than Ozzie, because they were really cracking down on Ozzie, making it difficult for us to play through him. So Andy got more involved and got forward and we got a good goal to take the lead. Then we just gave away too many corner kicks and gave them a little bit of dominance in the game, and when you give away that many corners eventually you get chances. We were lucky on the one where they hit the post, as well, and then we had a good chance at the end, where we could almost steal it. At the end of the day, I think 1-1 is a fair result. For our team, it's good that we were able to secure a point in the standpoint of the Cascadia Cup. That's still all open for us right now, so it's good."

Continue reading this post ...


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September 15, 2012 4:53 PM

Sounders retain the Cascadia Cup, for now

Posted by Joshua Mayers

cascadia cup.jpgPhoto credit: Tweet from @justicar

There was a high-profile visitor at Saturday's rivalry game between the Sounders and Timbers:

The Cascadia Cup.

The shiny trophy would have changed hands with a Portland win but instead will head back to Seattle -- the home of last year's winner -- as a result of the 1-1 tie at Jeld-Wen Field.

"That was important," midfielder Steve Zakuani said. "We didn't want our fans to drive down on a bus carrying a trophy and go back empty-handed."

Here's how the standings look:

Portland: 2-0-2 (8 points)
Seattle: 1-1-2 (5 points)
Vancouver: 0-2-2 (2 points)

Each team has two games remaining, in order: Vancouver hosts Seattle on Sept. 29, Seattle hosts Portland on Oct. 7, and Vancouver hosts Portland on Oct. 21.

Any thoughts on how things are shaping up in the competition?

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September 15, 2012 4:06 PM

Sounders FC 1, Portland 1, video highlights

Posted by Joshua Mayers


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September 15, 2012 2:46 PM

Final: Sounders FC 1, Portland 1, live chat

Posted by Joshua Mayers


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September 15, 2012 11:55 AM

Sounders FC vs. Portland Timbers, lineups

Posted by Joshua Mayers

portland away2 2012.jpgPORTLAND---It's a beautiful Saturday afternoon in the Rose City.

NBC cameras and talent are here for this network broadcast, the first for an MLS game since 2008. The Cascadia Cup is also here to award to the Timbers Army in the event of a Portland win.

The big question for the Sounders, who can clinch a playoff berth with a win and a San Jose win, is the availability of midfielders Mauro Rosales (quad) and Christian Tiffert (ankle). I'll post lineups here when they become available.

Note: Kickoff will be at about 12:51 p.m. today.

* * *

Sounders FC lineup: GK Michael Gspurning, D Adam Johansson, D Jeff Parke, D Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, D Leo Gonzalez, M Brad Evans, M Osvaldo Alonso (c), M Andy Rose, M Steve Zakuani, F Fredy Montero, F Eddie Johnson

Sounders FC bench: GK Josh Ford, D Zach Scott, D Patrick Ianni, D Marc Burch, M Alex Caskey, M Mario Martinez, F Sammy Ochoa

Portland Timbers lineup: GK Donovan Ricketts; D Kosuke Kimura, D Hanyer Mosquera, D David Horst, D Rodney Wallace; M Darlington Nagbe, D Jack Jewsbury (c), D Diego Chara; F Sal Zizzo, F Bright Dike, F Franck Songo'o

Portland Timbers bench: GK Joseph Bendik, D Futty Danso, M Eric Alexander, M Kalif Alhassan, F Kris Boyd, F Mike Fucito, F Danny Mwanga

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September 15, 2012 12:56 AM

Sounders FC vs. Portland Timbers, preview and prediction

Posted by Joshua Mayers

Portland Timbers Logo.jpgSounders FC (13-6-8) vs. Portland Timbers (7-14-6)
Saturday, Sept. 15, 12:30 p.m., Jeld-Wen Field, Portland, Ore.
Network TV: NBC (Arlo White and Kyle Martino)
Radio: 97.3 KIRO-FM (Ross Fletcher and Kasey Keller)
Spanish radio: La Gran D 99.3 FM
Referee: Ricardo Salazar

KEY TIMBERS PLAYERS

M Darlington Nagbe -- The former Akron star has become the focal point for the Portland attack and someone you can build a franchise around. He has three goals in his last five games after not having scored since March. It'll be interesting to see if he goes up against his good friend Steve Zakuani; the two have never played against each other.

F Bright Dike -- You might remember him from before the Timbers' MLS days. He was one of the standouts in a third-round U.S. Open Cup in 2010, which the Sounders eked out in a penalty-kick shootout. He's been a late-season spark for Portland with two goals in four starts. Has great athleticism to go with a massive frame -- in short, not fun for center backs to deal with.

GK Donovan Rickets -- It was a curious trade that sent Troy Perkins to Montreal for the experienced Jamaican and things haven't been too great in the early going (nine goals allowed in five games). A lot of that has to do with the play in front of him as he's been called upon to make 20 saves in those five games. As a point of reference, Michael Gspurning has only had to made 36 all season.

Continue reading this post ...


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September 14, 2012 11:58 PM

Hahnemann: "Hopefully I can give the team that backup they need and that experience."

Posted by Joshua Mayers

hahnemann mug.jpgHere are some team-provided quotes from new acquisition Marcus Hahnemann:

* * *

(On how the process of coming to Sounders FC started...) "I came in last summer. I talked to Sigi [Schmid] and said I wanted to come back. I knew Kasey [Keller] was playing last year and with the allocation draft process it was just going to be difficult. So I went back to England not sure if it was going to work. I re-signed with Everton, a short-term contract, to maybe get back to Seattle. It didn't quite happen so I stayed with Everton for the rest of the year. I was pretty much at the process of thinking I was retired. We were going back to Seattle. We moved the kids and family back. There were a couple opportunities in England. Nothing was really that great in that point in my career. [...] We were just getting set up, the kids are in school here, we're trying to find soccer teams for them, just doing the normal stuff [...] Next thing you know we're in that part of our lives where we're trying to figure out what to do next. My wife and I both talking about what we want to do [...] Next thing I know I get a call from Adrian [Hanauer] who says, 'Do you want to still play?' And I'm like, 'Uhh, yeah. If it's for Seattle, definitely." [...] Somehow, it all just sort of all came to work. I'm still kind of shocked it all happened because I had resigned myself that it wasn't going to happen. This is where I started my career and I wanted to finish here [...] I had resigned myself to the fact that I wasn't going to be playing for the Sounders again. That was pretty disappointing and pretty frustrating that my first pro team couldn't get it to work because of this allocation process. In my case, it didn't seem justified. It was pretty frustrating and next thing you know a few days later, I'm in the office signing a contract."

(On joining Sounders FC...) "When it looked like I wasn't going to get a chance to play again for the Sounders and be a part of it, it was pretty frustrating. I thought I really missed out. All of a sudden, to be given that second chance to come back, it's absolutely amazing. I don't really know how to describe it."

(On his expectations of his role coming into this team...) "[Michael Gspurning] has done great, but he's missed a couple of games and hopefully I can give the team that backup they need and that experience."

(On the logistics of joining the team and when he can be ready to play...) "We're going to train next week, and the team is going off to Honduras. I've been on retirement-mode for the last little bit, so I need a little bit to get back into it. I've been keeping myself fit, but that's not the same as diving around. I trained with Tom [Dutra] on Wednesday and parts of my body hurt that have never hurt before. It's going to take some time to get back into it, so it's going to take some time to get back into it. Hopefully it's not too long."

(On the atmosphere of Sounders FC games...) "It's absolutely amazing. The first game I went to I was in awe of how many people--I was just walking around the stadium half the time, just like, 'This is unbelievable.' This is what we've always dreamed would happen in Seattle, and what I always wanted when I was here."

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September 14, 2012 11:39 PM

Sounders FC vs. Portland, injury report

Posted by Joshua Mayers

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC -- OUT: FW Babayele Sodade (R knee ACL tear); DF Andrew Duran (L knee ACL surgery); QUESTIONABLE: GK Andrew Weber (R adductor strain); FW David Estrada (L foot fracture); PROBABLE: MF Osvaldo Alonso (head injury); MF Andy Rose (rib fracture); MF Mauro Rosales (R quad strain); MF Christian Tiffert (R ankle sprain)

PORTLAND TIMBERS -- OUT: DF Chris Taylor (R hip surgery); PROBABLE: MF Freddie Braun (abdominal strain); DF Andrew Jean-Baptiste (L hamstring strain)

* * *

The list has grown a little bit for Seattle. The big question marks are Rosales and Tiffert, who were working off to the side at the end of Friday's practice.

Coach Sigi Schmid said determinations of their availability wouldn't come until late Friday or even up until game time. Perhaps their designation as "probable" is a positive sign.

Otherwise, I expect things to be pretty similar. Alonso and Rose should be good to go. I wouldn't think Weber or Estrada will be involved.

Portland should be close to full strength, though left back Steven Smith is suspended due to yellow card accumulation.

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September 14, 2012 5:50 PM

Update: Sounders FC acquires GK Marcus Hahnemann through allocation process

Posted by Joshua Mayers

Seattle Sounders FC Logo.jpgUPDATE 5:50 p.m. -- It's official. Sounders FC has acquired goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, a Seattle native, through the allocation process. Seattle traded a conditional draft pick to Toronto FC, the top team in the allocation order, to acquire Hahnemann.

"Adding Marcus for the final stretch gives us experience and quality on and off the field to supplement our current core of goalkeepers," said coach Sigi Schmid in a news release.

Hahnemann, 40, will be added to the roster upon receipt of his international clearance.

"This is where I started my career and I wanted to finish here," said Hahnemann in the release. "This is what we've always dreamed would happen in Seattle, and what I always wanted when I was here."

* * *

Goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, a Seattle native, has signed with MLS and his club will be determined Friday afternoon.

Since Hahnemann, who played locally in high school, college and the lower-division Sounders, has U.S. men's national team experience, he must go through the allocation process. Seattle ranks 10th in the order and would likely have to make a trade to acquire him.

Sky Sports in England has reported that Hahnemann is, in fact, set to join the Sounders, who already have four goalkeepers under contract.

The Sounders, through a team spokesman, said they had nothing to announce right now.

Hahnemann has been linked to a Seattle return a few times in past years -- particularly as a potential replacement for Kasey Keller, who retired in 2011 -- but the Sounders often referenced the allocation order as a sticking point.

A two-time World Cup veteran, Hahnemann was released by Everton of the English Premier League in May after playing over a decade in England.

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September 14, 2012 12:53 PM

Eddie Johnson explains why things are clicking for him this season

Posted by Joshua Mayers

johnson ne.jpgPhoto credit: Michael Dwyer, AP

Sounders FC forward Eddie Johnson, who has set a franchise record for goals in a season with 13, spoke with the media earlier this week. One reporter asked him why he's been able to do so well in the air (Johnson's nine headed goals are the most in a season since MLS began tracking how goals were scored in 2003).

Johnson first credited practice, dating back to when he was teammates with Brian McBride, a former U.S. international and Fulham star known well for his aerial abilities.

Then Johnson continued:

"I think the difference is I've added to my game now. I'm a lot older, a lot wiser, and I'm putting myself in position where it allows me to head in the ball versus earlier in my career when I used to drift out wide, outside of the (penalty box), and try to take players on. I never really played within the 18-yard box. Right now, with my experience, I'm trying to compare myself with the rest of the forwards in the world: 'This guy's a top forward and plays for a big team, but I have more athletic ability than him and I'm faster than him. What makes him score so many goals? How is he effective?' It's the little things -- hard running in the box, finding spaces. ... (Chris Wondolowski) is going to bust his butt to get in those seams within the 18-yard box, and that's where we make our money. We don't make our money outside the box. It's taken me to 28 (years old) to figure it out, but I'm glad I figured it out."

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September 14, 2012 12:28 PM

Coach Sigi Schmid on injuries, the roster freeze, referee Ricardo Salazar and more

Posted by Joshua Mayers

schmid mug.jpgHere are some final thoughts from Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid after Friday's practice before the big rivalry game in Portland this weekend:

* * *

(How's the feeling on the final day before the game?) "It's good. I think our team's ready. I don't think it's a big thing to (fire) the team up two-, three days before the game or the day before the game. They know what it's about. They're professionals. They know what this rivalry means. We'll talk a little more about it tonight at the team meal and we'll be ready to go. We weren't happy with our last performance in Portland. We need to set that right, and the only way to set that right is by going out and performing well."

(Any clarity on the availability of Christian Tiffert or Mauro Rosales?) "Closer. Both of them were better today. So it's something that we're still thinking about. The group knows, and we'll make those final decisions tonight or, like I've said, possibly tomorrow morning."

(Might something still occur with the roster before the freeze?) "You never know. ... I had a headache with all the discussions we were having and the different permutations: 'This could happen. If this happens, that could happen. If this happens, that could happen.' So there are different things that we're looking at. There might be something, but until it's signed, done, I never assume anything. Might be something, might be nothing."

(Move or no move, you're still confident in this squad?) "Yeah. I'm very confident with the roster that we have. I think the additions we made in the window with Tiffert and Mario Martinez were two very important and solid additions that made us a stronger team with more options. That should obviously bear some fruit and carry some weight when we go into the Honduras game on Wednesday. We have enough here to win it. It all comes down to our approach, our attitude."

(What is distinctive about this squad in that regard?) "I think it's a little more mature than it was last year. I think we've always played a better second half than we've played a first half. I think losing the Open Cup final and losing it the way we lost -- in our minds, it was a little bit taken away -- having that pain be a little more recent than a year ago, I think helps us as well in terms of our motivation going into this final stage."

(What did you make of the Ricardo Salazar ref assignment?) "It's interesting that he also refereed our last game in Portland. The assignment situation is interesting. I don't know you would end up with the same referee in the same venue twice in a row. But it is what it is and we hope we had a better game than he did in Kansas City."

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September 14, 2012 9:45 AM

ECS featured in The Wall Street Journal's story on tifo (Friday links)

Posted by Joshua Mayers

decades of dominance.jpg

The Emerald City Supporters got a lot of love in a story Friday in The Wall Street Journal on tifo (there's a video and photo gallery, as well).

ECS co-president Greg Mockos was quoted in the piece, which described last year's Decades of Dominance tifo pictured above as "likely the most complex tifo in U.S. history."

Nice to see the local supporters get credit for their hard work.

Let's get to some links.

* * *

--- NBA star Dwyane Wade recently said he wants to get into soccer and go to a game. Somebody needs to get that guy a ticket for tomorrow.

--- Around the league, former Mexican international Guillermo Franco has signed with the Chicago Fire, Christian Wilhelmsson has been officially added to the LA Galaxy roster, and Chris Pontius signed a new deal with D.C. United.

--- A couple interesting stories from the league website, here's one on brothers of high-profile stars coming to MLS (speaking of which, it sounds like Kaka's brother will sign with New York) and another on Thierry Henry hoping to leave a legacy here beyond winning.

--- CONCACAF has formed an integrity committee, so there's that.

--- Here's a look at how homegrown players of MLS teams are doing in college.

--- Lastly, here's our good friend Arlo White previewing the big game...

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September 13, 2012 2:42 PM

Timbers GM/interim coach Gavin Wilkinson on the rivalry, the Cascadia Cup and more

Posted by Joshua Mayers

Portland Timbers Logo.jpgLocal reporters got the chance to speak with Portland Timbers general manager/interim coach/technical director Gavin Wilkinson on a conference call Thursday afternoon. He covered all sorts of topics from the rivalry with the Sounders, to the Cascadia Cup, to Saturday's network broadcast on NBC, to his relationship with the Timbers Army, to Roger Levesque and more.

Here is the transcript:

* * *

(Opening statement...) "Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy day to ask questions. It's been a great week's training. The Colorado result was something that we got over fairly quickly and I think the players have worked extremely hard and are focused on Seattle. They know what's at hand. They know the atmosphere is going to be incredible, they know the game itself is going to be an exciting one for fans, and they know what is at stake for us."

(Can you remember a time either as a player, coach or fan that you've wanted to win a game more?) "No. You've summed it up quite well, so thank you. It's an important game. You look at the two organizations, and Seattle are a class organization with class people and doing well on the field. For us, there's no doubt that we have class fans, it's a class organization, and we need to repay them a little bit. So for us the Cascadia Cup in general is very, very important, and this game itself is extremely, extremely important for the players, myself and everybody involved."

Continue reading this post ...


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September 13, 2012 12:50 PM

Johansson, Martinez return (Thursday notes)

Posted by Joshua Mayers

Here are a few notes from Sounders FC training Thursday:

* * *

--- Adam Johansson and Mario Martinez are back with the team after serving on international duty with Sweden and Honduras, respectively, for FIFA World Cup qualifiers. I'll have more from interviews with them later today. Coach Sigi Schmid said the team took it easy on them in their first day back, but Martinez was very active and Schmid anticipates Johansson will be ready by the weekend if all goes to plan.

--- It sounds like Mauro Rosales (quad) and Christian Tiffert (ankle) remain questionable going into Saturday's game. Schmid said Rosales was closer to a return than Tiffert and determinations on their availability will come Friday or Saturday. Tiffert got a cortisone shot, so he should be feeling better.

--- A quotable from Schmid: "We're not ready to give the Cascadia Cup away yet. ... We're not going to give it away Saturday." Here's a blog post that explains that situation.

--- Schmid also said Portland will be more of a free-flowing team now that "they pretty much realize the playoff bus has passed them."

--- Lastly, Schmid said he'd just as soon rather the Sounders not clinch a playoff berth this weekend since that scenario requires a win by league-leading San Jose, which Seattle is trying to catch in the standings. "We want half of that equation to happen," Schmid said. "The half where we beat Portland we want to happen. We'll take waiting a week longer if Chivas can get a result against San Jose. We'll wait a week longer. No problem."

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September 13, 2012 10:06 AM

More Cascadia Cup hype (Thursday links)

Posted by Joshua Mayers

It's Seattle-Portland week. What more needs to be done?

Let's get to some links:

* * *

--- Also from SoundersFC.com, here's a well-made video of Will Daniel's recent visit to Seattle. Daniel is a longtime friend of coach Sigi Schmid and has become an important part of the team.

--- If you're heading down to Portland early, you might be interesting in checking out Kicking + Screening Soccer Film Festival going on through Friday. The short film produced by Golazo on former USL Sounder Santa Maria Rivera will be showing Friday night.

--- Around MLS, D.C. United has been dealt a devastating blow with the news that Dwayne De Rosario is out 10-12 weeks with a knee injury (effectively ending his season), also ex-Sounder Alvaro Fernandez scored his first goal for the Chicago Fire in a 2-1 win over Toronto, and Chivas USA's Juan Agudelo caught up with Goal.com for this piece.

--- Here's an update on the Tacoma Stars with news the team has hired Joey Waters as head coach. Their season will start in November.

--- Here's an interesting story on potential match-fixing up in the lower leagues in Canada.

--- Here's a good roundup of Sounders FC academy products playing college soccer.

--- Lastly, the U.S. Open Cup is going to become even harder to watch on GolTV now that it has been dropped by DirectTV.

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September 13, 2012 9:39 AM

Sounders FC one of eight teams to participate in Marcus Tracy lottery

Posted by Joshua Mayers

MLS Logo.jpgUPDATE 10:27 a.m. -- The San Jose Earthquakes, who didn't have much better odds than Seattle, ended up winning the Tracy lottery.

UPDATE 9:39 a.m. -- It looks like the Sounders did not win and the Revolution did not win, based on tweets this morning from reporters (I'll embed them below). That, of course, does not preclude the possibility of a trade, which might explain the delay of an announcement.

Sounders FC has a 2.1 percent chance of winning a weighted lottery for former Wake Forest star Marcus Tracy, the lowest of eight participating teams. The lottery will take place at 7 a.m. Thursday and the winning club will announce the news.

The other participating teams, ranked in order of their odds of winning, are New England (33.2), FC Dallas (19.7), Philadelphia (16.8), Real Salt Lake (9.7), Chicago (7.8), New York (6.1) and San Jose (4.6). Those figures are determined by win-loss records over the past 34 games.

While Seattle's odds are slim, it's worth noting that the team could still trade for Tracy after the lottery is held. That could work in reverse, as well, with Seattle potentially traded him away upon winning -- however unlikely.

Tracy would have been one of the top picks in the 2009 draft coming out of college, but signed instead with Danish club Aalborg BK, where he reportedly struggled with knee tendinitis issues. Coach Sigi Schmid estimated the forward would've gone in the top five in that draft, and if you remember, the Sounders held the top pick that year and selected Steve Zakuani.

A former Hermann trophy winner, Tracy is the third player the Sounders have shown interest in before Saturday's roster freeze. Accomplished trialists Eidur Gudjohnsen and George Ogararu are the two others.

Vancouver and Colorado are not eligible to participate Thursday having already won previous lotteries for Lee Nguyen and Kamani Hill, respectively.

Here's a final note from the league website: "League rules require Tracy to go through the lottery system given he was a draft-eligible player back in 2009 and was presented with an MLS contract and declined it, instead signing for Danish side Aalborg. At the time, he was drafted by the Houston Dynamo, who lost his rights following the expiration of a two-year window after the draft."

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September 12, 2012 1:00 PM

A Sounders-Timbers game without Roger Levesque? Say it ain't so!

Posted by Joshua Mayers

levesque farewell.jpgPhoto credit: John Lok, The Seattle Times

There hasn't been a more central figure in the Sounders-Timbers rivalry over the past decade than Roger Levesque.

A hero. A villain. A lightning rod.

And following Levesque's retirement in July (above), Saturday's game in Portland is going to have a much different feel. I asked a handful of Sounders players and coaches what it will be like this weekend without Levesque on the team.

* * *

"We're trying to see if we can bring him down somehow. If we can't bring him, maybe we've got to do a cardboard cutout ... or paint his face on the side of the bus. (laughs) We've got to do something to bring Roger with us. At least his spirit will be with us." -- Sigi Schmid, head coach

"It's been an interesting dynamic. Roger was such a good guy to have on this team. Have we filled the void? No. Do we have a veteran enough team to compensate? Yes. It'll be touching for guys like me and Zach (Scott) and Tommy (Dutra) and some of the other guys. It would be really nice to see him down there." -- Brian Schmetzer, assistant coach

"Does that like ratchet the animosity down a little bit? I highly doubt it. I hope he's in the stands somewhere, maybe bouncing around with the Portland crowd to get them riled up. It will be a little weird. He's going to be missed out there. He's a staple of the Portland-Seattle rivalry." -- Zach Scott, defender

"Yeah, it will be (weird). He's been around for quite a long time -- definitely broken some Portland hearts and done a lot of good things for the team and for the Seattle organization. It's going to be funny not having him getting yelled at and people flipping him off. It'll be a different day without Roger down there, for sure." -- Jeff Parke, defender

"I haven't even thought about it. He's always here with us, whether it's hanging out on weekends or after games. He's still very much a part of this group, whether or not he's on the field or on the bench. ... Obviously it'd be great if he came on and scored. (laughs)" -- Brad Evans, midfielder

* * *

What are your thoughts on the first Sounders-Timbers game since Levesque's retirement?

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September 12, 2012 11:59 AM

Portland would clinch the 2012 Cascadia Cup with a win Saturday

Posted by Joshua Mayers

Portland Timbers Logo.jpgThe Cascadia Cup will be making the trip to Portland this weekend, according to a message I received Tuesday night from the Timbers Army.

Why? Well, because Portland Timbers can clinch the 2012 edition of the tournament with a win Saturday over the Sounders, the current holders of the trophy.

Here's are the current standings in the Cascadia Cup, a fan-sponsored tournament among Pacific Northwest rivals Seattle, Portland and Vancouver:

Portland Timbers: 2-0-1 (7 points)
Seattle Sounders FC: 1-1-1 (4 points)
Vancouver Whitecaps: 0-2-2 (2 points)

As you can see, if the Timbers beat Seattle on Saturday, they will hold a six-point advantage plus a head-the-head tiebreaker over the Sounders with just two games to play. If you remember, Portland also won the previous meeting in June.

Here's a link to the competition format established back in January, where despite MLS's unbalanced schedule, the supporters' groups decided each game will count toward the Cascadia Cup standings.

Portland has never won a Cascadia Cup when Seattle was participating -- titles in 2009 and 2010 came against Vancouver when the Sounders were in MLS -- and longtime Sounders defender Zach Scott is hopeful that will continue.

"(It's definitely important) for me personally," Scott said, "just because I've been involved in it from the USL years, as well. ... That's very important to us. It's a fan-based cup, so obviously it means a lot to fans of both teams, and that's who we're trying to bring to the games and send off happy -- our fans. Anything we can do to continue that tradition and put another trophy in our trophy case is huge."

Seattle won in 2011, 2007 and 2006. The Whitecaps won in 2004, 2005 and 2008.

* * *

Do you think the Sounders will be able to defend the Cascadia Cup?

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September 12, 2012 11:51 AM

NBC's Arlo White chats about network broadcasts, the Portland rivalry and more

Posted by Joshua Mayers

arlo white mug.jpgSounders FC's road game Saturday in Portland will be broadcast nationally on NBC. Not the NBC Sports Network on cable, but NBC proper. It's the first network broadcast of an MLS game since 2008 and our old friend Arlo White will be on the call.

White, who was Seattle's broadcaster in 2010 and 2011, talked to a handful of local reporters Wednesday morning and here is the transcript of that teleconference:

* * *

(What was it about this meeting between the Sounders and Timbers that led NBC to decide this would be a good first game for a network broadcast?) "Well, the reason that the first game on NBC is so late in the season is because we wanted to get the formula of the show right before we unleashed it onto (network) television. I think looking at the schedule -- bear in mind that NBC at the moment gets second choice to ESPN with the current package -- it was a no brainer as far as I'm concerned. NBC going into Major League Soccer for the first time, they had to show at least one Cascadia derby between Portland and Seattle. I think the other two had been taken up -- one in Seattle, one in Portland -- so this one was a no brainer. I think the powers that be, the people that select the games, know exactly how big this match is and what great television, visually and from an audio point of view and from an on-field battling point of view, this game will be. So an easy decision to make I think once that game became available."

Continue reading this post ...


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September 12, 2012 9:12 AM

Two Sounders set to return from international duty (Wednesday links)

Posted by Joshua Mayers

Seattle Sounders FC Logo.jpgThe Sounders will get closer to full strength this week upon the return of Adam Johansson and Mario Martinez from international duty. Both dressed for their country's FIFA World Cup qualifiers Tuesday -- Johansson didn't play in Sweden's 2-0 win over Kazakhstan and Martinez played the final 35 minutes in Honduras' 1-0 win over Cuba.

We'll get an update on their availability for Saturday's rivalry game from coach Sigi Schmid after Thursday's practice. The Sounders don't have training today.

Here's a list of MLS involvement in a big day of international soccer Tuesday.

Let's get to some links:

* * *

--- First off, here's some reaction to the big U.S. men's national team win in Columbus from ESPN.com, SI.com, The Washington Post, ProSoccerTalk and MLSsoccer.com.

--- There are more changes going on at Sounder at Heart, where founder Dave Clark will also be a contributor for SoundersFC.com.

--- Seattle forward Eddie Johnson earned the highest rating in last week's Castrol Index.

--- Here are the team name options for the new PASL team in Arlington. Go vote for one.

--- The UW men's soccer team is moving up in the polls.

--- Lastly, here's a report from Romania on George Ogararu's arrival to camp and French forward Djibril Cisse, who was once linked to the Sounders, has reaffirmed his desire to play one day in the United States.

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September 12, 2012 8:57 AM

My MLS power rankings -- Week 27

Posted by Joshua Mayers

San Jose Earthquakes Logo.jpg1. (1) San Jose Earthquakes 16-6-5
Became the first team to clinch a playoff berth as a result of Seattle's win vs. Chivas last week.

2. (2) Sporting Kansas City 15-7-5
Ends the year with four of six on the road. That makes Friday's home game vs. Houston a big one.

3. (3) Seattle Sounders FC 13-6-8
Can join S.J. in the playoff field this weekend with a win in Portland and help from the 'Quakes.

4. (4) New York Red Bulls 13-7-7
Odd to see Kenny Cooper struggle to get time after scoring 11 goals in the first three months.

5. (5) Chicago Fire 13-8-5
When is the Fire vulnerable? From Minute 30 to Minute 45 with an MLS-most nine goals allowed.

Continue reading this post ...


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September 11, 2012 9:08 PM

USMNT gets big win in World Cup qualifying

Posted by Joshua Mayers

The U.S. men's national team recorded a much-needed 1-0 win in a FIFA World Cup qualifier Tuesday against Jamaica.

In front of 23,881 at Crew Stadium, former A-League Sounder Herculez Gomez scored the lone goal on a 55th-minute free kick that curled over the wall and through the gloves of diving goalkeeper Dwayne Miller.

The U.S. might've scored more often were it not for a standout performance by Miller -- prior to what was a bit of a soft goal -- and a number of shots hitting the post or crossbar.

There's a three-way tie between the U.S., Guatemala and Jamaica for first in CONCACAF's Group A with seven points. The U.S. and Guatemala each have a plus-2 goal differential to rank above Jamaica (plus-1) in the initial tiebreaker.

The top two in a group that also includes Antigua & Barbuda advance to the final round of qualifying.

Here's a look at the schedule for the next two games:

United States (2-1-1): at Antigua & Barbuda on Oct. 12, vs. Guatemala on Oct. 16
Guatemala (2-1-1): vs. Jamaica on Oct. 12, at United States on Oct. 16
Jamaica (2-1-1): at Guatemala on Oct. 12, vs. Antigua & Barbuda on Oct. 16
Antigua & Barbuda (0-3-1): vs. United States on Oct. 12, at Jamaica on Oct. 16

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September 11, 2012 2:16 PM

Rosales, Tiffert expected to be ready for Saturday's game in Portland (injury report)

Posted by Joshua Mayers

Seattle Sounders FC Logo.jpgSounders FC coach Sigi Schmid had good news on the injury front Tuesday. The team's pair of DP midfielders, Christian Tiffert and Mauro Rosales, are expected to be available for Saturday's road game in Portland after dealing with injury issues last weekend.

Tiffert started last week against Chivas USA but had to leave in the second half due to a lingering ankle injury and underwent an MRI recently.

"It turned out there was nothing serious there," Schmid said.

Tiffert walked and jogged with a trainer off to the side during Tuesday's practice before going inside.

Rosales missed last week's game with a quad injury that had been bothering him since a grueling road game in the Dallas heat. He participated in the first half of Tuesday's practice before working off to the side during the last scrimmage drills.

In other injury news, forward/midfielder David Estrada trained in full Tuesday -- a sign that he's getting even closer to his return from a broken foot.

"We'll see how this week goes for him," Schmid said. "Tomorrow's ... just an optional (training day) for some of the guys, then we'll see how he looks on Thursday."

Defender Leo Gonzalez left the practice field with an ice pack on his knee, but Schmid indicated that it wasn't serious.

"His knee looks fine," the coach said.

* * *

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC -- OUT: FW Babayele Sodade (R knee ACL tear); DF Andrew Duran (L knee ACL surgery); QUESTIONABLE: GK Andrew Weber (R adductor strain); FW David Estrada (L foot fracture); PROBABLE: MF Osvaldo Alonso (head injury); MF Andy Rose (rib fracture)

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September 11, 2012 9:43 AM

Sounders can clinch playoff berth this weekend

Posted by Joshua Mayers

MLS Logo.jpgUPDATE: As pointed out by a reader, Toronto FC cannot make the playoffs. TFC has a 42-point maximum and five teams in the East are guaranteed 43 points.

Sounders FC has been on pace for a fourth-straight playoff berth for quite a while, but the team can make another postseason trip official this weekend.

Here is the scenario to clinch a berth, as provided by MLS:

Seattle Sounders FC will clinch a playoff spot IF

--- Seattle Sounders FC WIN against Portland Timbers on Saturday AND

--- San Jose Earthquakes WIN against Chivas USA on Saturday

Right now, San Jose is the only team that has clinched a playoff berth, which coincidentally came via Seattle's win over Chivas USA last weekend. In a couple other scenarios, New England and Toronto FC can be mathematically eliminated from postseason contention this weekend. (See update above)

* * *

What do you think? Would you rather wait to a see a playoff berth clinched because you don't want San Jose to win?

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September 11, 2012 9:32 AM

Huge game for the USMNT (Tuesday links)

Posted by Joshua Mayers

us logo small.jpgThe Sounders return to training today after a day off Monday, and the U.S. men's national team also returns to action in FIFA World Cup qualifying.

Jurgen Klinsmann's squad could use a big win tonight in Columbus vs. Jamaica after losing to the Reggae Boyz on the road last week. Kickoff is at 5 p.m. and ESPN2 will carry the broadcast with Kasey Keller providing studio commentary.

Here is some preview material from The Sporting News, FOX Soccer and MLSsoccer.com.

Let's get to some links:

* * *

--- Season-ticket renewal for the Sounders Women will start Wednesday. The team website has all the details you need.

--- Sounders FC's Andy Rose was included in the 24 Under 24 series on the league website. Here's a good feature on him, as well.

--- Former touted college prospect Marcus Tracy has signed with MLS and will be awarded to a team via weighted lottery on Thursday.

--- Elsewhere around the league, the Rapids showed off a new jersey for next season, Chicago traded for Colorado midfielder Wells Thompson, and here's a scene from a recent Sounders game that has drawn a lot of attention.

--- A little late with this one, but congrats to the U.S. U-20 women for winning their World Cup.

--- In your lower-leagues update, the Charleston Battery won the USL Pro championship and the Atlanta Silverbacks have turned to their fans for a potential name change.

--- Lastly, here's a look at MLS player jersey sales for the 2012 season, as provided by the league:

1. David Beckham, LA Galaxy
2. Thierry Henry, New York Red Bulls
3. Landon Donovan, LA Galaxy
4. Fredy Montero, Seattle Sounders FC
5. Dwayne De Rosario, D.C. United
6. Chris Wondolowski, San Jose Earthquakes
7. Tim Cahill, New York Red Bulls
8. Robbie Keane, LA Galaxy
9. Mauro Rosales, Seattle Sounders FC
10. Brian Ching, Houston Dynamo
11. Darlington Nagbe, Portland Timbers
12. Chris Pontius, D.C. United
13. Osvaldo Alonso, Seattle Sounders FC
14. Young-Pyo Lee, Vancouver Whitecaps FC
15. Kris Boyd, Portland Timbers

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September 11, 2012 1:16 AM

Eddie Johnson wins MLS Player of the Week

Posted by Joshua Mayers

johnson mug 2012.jpgSounders FC forward Eddie Johnson has been named MLS Player of the Week for his two-goal performance in Saturday's comeback win at home against Chivas USA.

This marks the fifth time Johnson has earned the honor in his career and second time with Seattle; he also won for his role in the Sounders' 4-0 win over the Los Angeles Galaxy in Week 22.

Johnson, who set a franchise record Saturday with 13 goals in a season, collected 17 of the 20 first-place votes from the North American Soccer Reporters panel.

Since MLS began recording how goals were scored in 2003, no player has had more headed goals in a season than Johnson's nine.

David Estrada is the only other Sounder to win MLS Player of the Week this season, which came after a hat trick in Seattle's home opener against Toronto FC.

* * *

Any thoughts?

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September 9, 2012 1:45 PM

GM Adrian Hanauer discusses Gudjohnsen, Ogararu and the upcoming roster freeze

Posted by Joshua Mayers

hanauer mug.jpgReporters had a chance to catch up with general manager and part owner Adrian Hanauer after Sunday's reserve game. The main topics covered involved trialists Eidur Gudjohnsen, who is scheduled to fly back to Iceland on Monday, and George Ogararu, a Romanian international who just joined the team recently.

* * *

(Can you talk about bringing in George Ogararu?) "It's sort of the same message: We're always going to try to make the team better and when there are opportunities to good players in on trial, we're going to do it. Beyond that, obviously we'll have our own internal discussions and figure out where we are with this year's roster and beyond."

(Is he someone that you have been tracking or was he brought to you?) "Look, there are 100,000s of players out there, so we can't track everybody. Generally what happens is we're in conversations with multiple, multiple agents and scouts, and they have players on their radar, and they make us aware of those players. He was another one like that. And actually Dave Tenney and Kurt Schmid sort of took the lead on tracking George and we were able to bring him in and take a look."

(Any clarity on Gudjohnsen's situation?) "No. Obviously Sept. 15 is the roster freeze, so by then something will be figured out for sure. But we're going to sit down with he and his representation and see what opportunities there might be."

(Is he staying in Seattle until then?) "He is, as a matter of fact, booked on a plane tomorrow."

(Does that indicate anything?) "No. I mean that was what was booked in advance and at least right now he's planning to get on his plane."

(To Europe?) "Yeah, back to Iceland."

(Would you let him get on a plane to Iceland if you had plans to keep him?) "I mean he'd have to get a work permit. We'd have to get him registered. He didn't bring clothes for the rest of the year, so he would probably go back whether he was signed or not signed to get himself organized. But again, we've got our work cut out for us to try to come up with a way to keep him."

(You've indicated with Gudjohnsen it's more about this year. With Ogararu is it more open-ended?) "I think that's the case, but I haven't had as many direct conversation with George."

(Do you feel your roster will be any different by the roster freeze?) "By the 15th it will either be different or it will be the same. You want to try and ask it a different way?"

(Well, if it's with Gudjohnsen, Ogararu or anyone else...) "Look, we're very, very happy with our roster. We think we have a team that can compete for a championship. But again, if we can get stronger, we'll get stronger. But I would be very surprised if there are major moves other than the obvious ones that you guys are aware of."


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September 9, 2012 1:28 PM

A stop and chat with trialist George Ogararu

Posted by Joshua Mayers

Sounders FC have a new trialist in camp, Romanian defender George Ogararu. The 32-year-old right back played the final 45 minutes in Sunday's reserve game and spoke briefly with the media afterward:

* * *

(How has your experience been so far?) "Good. Very good. I'm very surprised in what I see over here -- a good atmosphere and a good club and a good environment. Today I didn't expect it to be that loud."

(We're you at the game Saturday?) "Yeah, I was at the game."

(What'd you think?) "I was very enthusiastic about it. I watched the game together with Mauro (Rosales) and it was a really, really nice game."

(Do you have a relationship with Rosales?) "Yes, we know each other from Ajax. We've been friends ever since."

(Did he play a part in bringing you here?) "Yeah, he told me about the club and he told me it's a fantastic club. And he was right."

(What's your contract situation?) "I've finished my contact in Sion in Switzerland. I'm free of contract."

(Have you been thinking about MLS as an option?) "I was thinking about it and after I spoke with Mauro ... I just said, 'OK, it will be a good, nice experience,' and we'll see how it goes."

(Do you hope to be with the team the rest of this year or for next year? What are your hopes?) "I'll try to do my best over here and then we'll see with the club what they want to do."

(Do you have plans for how long you'll be here?) "As long as possible."

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September 9, 2012 10:47 AM

Final: Sounders FC 4, Chivas USA 2, MLS Reserve League game thread and box score

Posted by Joshua Mayers

gudjohnsen cyan.JPG

Here are the final stats with the running commentary moved until after the jump. I'll have comments upcoming from GM Adrian Hanauer and trialist George Ogararu (highlights are already posted on Twitter).

SOUNDERS FC RESERVES 4, CHIVAS USA RESERVES 2

Scoring summary

SEA - Eidur Gudjohnson (Sammy Ochoa) 22'
CHV - Jose Correa (Paulo Cardozo) 26'
CHV - Own Goal (Daniel Steres) 60'
SEA - Cordell Cato 62'
SEA - Michael Seamon 69'
SEA - Seth C'deBaca (Michael Seamon) 90'

Seattle Sounders FC: Josh Ford; Michael Seamon, Daniel Steres, Jeff Parke, Marc Burch; Cordell Cato, Servando Carrasco, Andy Rose, Alex Caskey (Seth C'deBaca 82'); Eidur Gudjohnson (George Ogararu 46), Sammy Ochoa.

Substitutes Not Used: Bryan Meredith.

Total Shots: 10; Shots on Goal: 6; Fouls: 10; Offside: 7; Corner Kicks: 5; Saves: 3.

Chivas USA: Tim Melia; Ruben Rodriguez, Bobby Burling, Kevin Gallaugher, Anthony Dheming; Marco Delgado, Rodrigo Lopez, Laurent Courtois, Cesar Romero (Kennedy 74'); Paolo Cardozo, Jose Correa.

Substitutes Not Used: Patrick McLain, Tristan Bowen.

Total Shots: 9; Shots on Goal: 4; Fouls: 7; Offside: 2; Corner Kicks: 6; Saves: 2.

Misconduct summary

CHV - Laurent Courtois (caution; Reckless Foul) 35'
SEA - George Ogararu (caution; Reckless Foul) 49'
SEA - Marc Burch (caution; Reckless Foul) 56'

Referee: William Niccolls
Referee's Assistants: Levi Rippy; Chipalo Street
4th Official: Ray Moffatte Jr.
Weather: Cloudy and 63-degrees

All statistics contained in the box score are unofficial.

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September 8, 2012 11:10 PM

Eddie Johnson sets a franchise record for goals in a season

Posted by Joshua Mayers

johnson chivas2.jpgPhoto credit: Jordan Stead, The Seattle Times

By now you've probably heard. If not, here's a reminder.

In Seattle's 2-1 win against Chivas USA on Saturday, Sounders FC forward Eddie Johnson scored his 12th and 13th goals to set a franchise record for goals in a season. Here's how the All-Star responded to the honor:

"(It's about) winning games as a team, trying to get better as a team week in and week out. ... Everything else is a bonus," Johnson said. "That's a bonus. I couldn't ask for a better team to share that with. They're the reason why I'm getting my goals. All the hard work we put in week in and week out, it's paying off. It's a humbling moment, but I couldn't have asked for a better team to share it with."

Johnson is now two goals shy of his career high of 15 goals, set in 2007 in Kansas City. The 28 year old's 0.68 goals-per-90' average is on pace for a career best and fourth in the league behind the San Jose duo of Alan Gordon (1.03) and Chris Wondolowski (0.72) and, by thousandths of a percentage point, Toronto FC's Danny Koevermans (0.68).

Here's a list of the top goal-scoring seasons in Sounders FC history:

Eddie Johnson, 2012 -- 13 goals*
Fredy Montero, 2009 -- 12 goals
Fredy Montero, 2011 -- 12 goals
Fredy Montero, 2012 -- 11 goals*
Fredy Montero, 2010 -- 10 goals
Steve Zakuani, 2010 -- 10 goals
Nate Jaqua, 2009 -- 9 goals
Alvaro Fernandez, 2011 -- 9 goals

* -- active season

Fredy Montero was pretty gracious to see the honor go to a teammate. Here's what he had to say about it after Saturday's game.

"Well, it is always good when you have in your team somebody who can score goals," Montero said. "In the past, I was the guy who had to score goals, but we didn't make the final. Hopefully this year it's going to take us together to take the Seattle Sounders to the final."

* * *

Any thoughts?

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September 8, 2012 8:11 PM

Eddie Johnson: "All the hard work we put in week in and week out, it's paying off."

Posted by Joshua Mayers

johnson chivas.jpgPhoto credit: Jordan Stead, The Seattle Times

Here are some quotes and stats from Sounders FC's 2-1 comeback win Saturday against Chivas USA. Forward Eddie Johnson scored two goals, including the winner in the 89th minute, to set a franchise record with 13 goals in a season. Seattle jumped up to second place in the West with the win.

* * *

SIGI SCHMID, Sounders FC coach

(Opening statement...) "I think sometimes when you have (a 6-2 win against them) like we had down in L.A., you can pretty much stand on your head in the locker room before the game. The edge sometimes is off a little bit and you try to keep them focused and motivated, but the edge is off. Obviously, we didn't start off well. We put ourselves behind 1-0, but I think it's our first come-from-behind win all year. Then we showed some character in terms of coming back. Mauro (Rosales) didn't play today because we didn't want to take a chance with his quad. (Christian) Tiffert had to come out -- it was a little bit of an ankle that's been bothering him. We don't have (Adam) Johansson and we don't have (Mario) Martinez, but we're still able to put a quality effort in there against a team that really has nothing to lose. They don't have to play it tight. They're going to try and win the game. They can take risks and chances. So I'm pleased with our ability to win, pleased with our ability to come back. Obviously, as hot as (Fredy) Montero has been, he draws a lot of attention. That opens up some space for Eddie (Johnson), and he gets on two good headers -- a good free kick from Tiffert on the one and on the other one (it was) just a tremendous cross from Fredy Montero. It's good to see them combine. I'm very pleased."

(Is Tiffert's injury serious [Ed note: The DP will undergo an MRI on the ankle]?) "We don't think so. It's been bothering him a little bit and it bothered him a little bit more today. It's been getting better. Then it maybe took a step back. On Thursday, he re-tweaked it a little bit in training but he thought it would be OK for today. He's a pretty tough character."

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September 8, 2012 6:40 PM

Majority owner Joe Roth interrupts coach Sigi Schmid's postgame press conference

Posted by Joshua Mayers

Were it not for a late game-winner by Eddie Johnson, I thought what happened during a second-half free kick for the Sounders would have been a much bigger talking point.

The play happened in the 52nd minute. Fredy Montero took a free kick that was inexplicably blocked by the arm of Chivas USA's Miller Bolanos, who appeared to be well within 10 yards of the ball. You can watch the play here.

Many Sounders appealed, rightly, for a handball and I asked coach Sigi Schmid after the game if he feels the team deserved a penalty kick.

"I haven't seen the replay, so I couldn't tell," Schmid said. "I know all the guys pretty much said it looked like a handball. There was that and there was the one where maybe (Montero) got knocked down on the cross. I don't know if he did get knocked down on the cross or not."

Then came an interruption from the back of the room:

"How did you feel about the refereeing coach?"

The inquiry came from majority owner Joe Roth, who added: "And I'll pay the fine."

Laughter filled the room and Schmid turned his comments onto referee Kevin Stott, particularly in the context of some pushing and shoving in the second half that resulted in a yellow card for Chivas USA's Casey Townsend.

"As an old coach of mine used to say... he never said the guy's a good referee or a bad referee," Schmid said. "He just said, 'I'm very unlucky with this referee.' So I'll say with Kevin Stott, I'm very unlucky often with the calls. Obviously the game almost got out of hand a little bit in the second half. All he had to do was get a hold of Casey Townsend. The play was stopped for their two injured players in the box. We had the ball just at the back part of the circle. It was very easy just to get Casey out of there. He didn't have to stand there. The ref could've made sure of that and just drop the ball to Ozzie and we play. Instead he ends up dropping the ball, Casey challenges for the ball right away and it ends up being a melee again. That was something I think was mismanaged as a referee."

Pretty sure that's not fine-worthy, but Schmid knows where to send the invoice if it is.

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September 8, 2012 3:58 PM

Sounders FC 2, Chivas USA 1, video highlights

Posted by Joshua Mayers


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September 8, 2012 3:02 PM

Final: Sounders FC 2, Chivas USA 1, live chat

Posted by Joshua Mayers


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September 8, 2012 11:03 AM

Sounders FC vs. Chivas USA, lineups

Posted by Joshua Mayers

chivas home 2012.JPG

UPDATE 12:05 p.m. -- Just saw Mauro Rosales up in the press box. Looks like his quad injury will keep him out of today's game. Lineups should be out soon.

It's a nice cool day here at CenturyLink Field where Sounders FC and Chivas USA will face off in the only MLS game of the day. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.

The main concern for Seattle is the injured status of midfielder Mauro Rosales, who has been limited the past few days with a quad injury. Coach Sigi Schmid indicated Friday that they'll play it safe with him, which shouldn't come as a surprise.

Both teams have a pair of absences on international duty -- Adam Johansson and Mario Martinez for the Sounders, and Oswaldo Minda and Ante Jazic for Chivas USA -- so we'll see how that affects things from the perspective of depth.

I'll post lineups below when they become available.

Sounders FC lineup: GK Michael Gspurning, D Zach Scott, D Patrick Ianni, D Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, D Leo Gonzalez, M Brad Evans, M Osvaldo Alonso, M Christian Tiffert, M Steve Zakuani, F Fredy Montero, F Eddie Johnson

Sounders FC bench: GK Josh Ford, D Marc Burch, D Jeff Parke, M Andy Rose, M Alex Caskey, M Cordell Cato, F Sammy Ochoa

Chivas USA lineup: GK Dan Kennedy, D Jorge Villafana, D Rauwshan McKenzie, D Danny Califf, D James Riley, M Shalrie Joseph, M Miller Bolanos, M Nick LaBrocca, M Ben Zemanski, F Juan Agudelo, F Casey Townsend

Chivas USA bench: GK Tim Melia, D Bobby Burling, F Cesar Romero, M Marco Delgado, F Tristan Bowen, F Jose Erick Correa, M Laurent Courtois

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September 8, 2012 1:43 AM

Sounders FC vs. Chivas USA, preview and prediction

Posted by Joshua Mayers

Chivas USA Logo.jpgSounders FC (12-6-8) vs. Chivas USA (7-11-7)
Saturday, Sept. 8, 1 p.m., CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash.
TV/radio: KONG-TV 6/16, 97.3 KIRO FM (Ross Fletcher, Kasey Keller)
Spanish TV/radio: KOMO2 (Ch. 114), La Gran D 99.3 FM
Referee: Kevin Stott

KEY CHIVAS USA PLAYERS

M Shalrie Joseph -- His standout MLS career speaks for itself, but he'll shoulder a bigger role Saturday with Oswaldo Minda (a mainstay in the middle of midfield) out on international duty. Joseph can match Minda's physical attributes and has shown flashes of his prime for the Goats. Amazingly, his two goals in just five games are two goals away from tying the team lead.

F Juan Agudelo -- Crazy to think he's still just 19 years old. Talent? He's got it. He's been in and out of the U.S. men's national team at the senior level. Consistency? Well, that's been a little more difficult. He's got just two goals this season, but coincidentally both have come against the Sounders. He had the equalizer down in L.A. earlier this year and converted a PK a couple weeks ago.

D Danny Califf -- Didn't start in the last meeting and Sounders coach Sigi Schmid seemed particularly pleased about that, noting they attacked the Chivas center backs as a result. That was the only game he hasn't started since joining the team in May. He's an intimating presence in the back and also keep an eye out for him on set pieces.

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September 7, 2012 11:36 PM

U.S. men lose World Cup qualifier in Jamaica

Posted by Joshua Mayers

The U.S. men's national team couldn't have gotten off to a better start in Friday's FIFA World Cup qualifier in Jamaica.

Clint Dempsey scored 36 seconds for an early lead, which was also the fastest goal in USMNT qualifying history. (In another interesting note, the goal tied Dempsey with Sounders FC's Eddie Johnson for fourth-most in qualifying history with eight.) But alas the lead would not be held. The hosts got two goals off free kicks, the first by Rodolph Austin in the 23rd minute and the winner by Luton Shelton in the 62nd minute, to earn a 2-1 win.

The USMNT has never won a qualifier in Jamaica (0-1-4). On the other hand, the Reggae Boyz had never beaten the U.S. This same matchup will be played in another qualifier Tuesday in Columbus at a sold-out Crew Stadium.

Here's the recap from U.S. Soccer, an AP recap and reaction from SI.com, MLSsoccer.com and ProSoccerTalk.

And here's how things stand in CONCACAF's Group A in qualifying:

1. Jamaica 2-0-1 (7 points, +2 GD, four goals scored)
2. USA 1-1-1 (4 points, +1 GD, five goals scored)
2. Guatemala 1-1-1 (4 points, +1 GD, five goals scored)
4. Antigua & Barbuda 0-2-1 (1 point, -4 GD, two goals scored)

* * *

What do you make of the result? Still confident the U.S. will advance to the final round of qualifying?

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September 7, 2012 2:43 PM

Eddie Johnson talks about his week off

Posted by Joshua Mayers

johnson mug 2012.jpgWhere was Eddie Johnson? As covered here on the blog a couple days ago, it was a popular question last week as the Sounders FC forward stayed in Seattle for the team's road games in Trinidad and Dallas.

Coach Sigi Schmid explained the situation earlier this week when he said Johnson was rested on account of not having played a full season in a few years and to help him get over a slight adductor strain.

I asked Johnson the other day what he thought of being rested (Note: He was still training here with fitness coach Dave Tenney while the team was on the road).

"As a player? Frustrating," he said, "because you want to play at the end of the day. I wasn't with the team for preseason and I've been having these ongoing aches and little tweaks, and that's normal not being with the team for preseason and not having a club for seven months. Sigi basically said it from Day 1: "There are going to be times where you're probably going to be frustrated with me and don't agree, but just trust in me and believe in what we're trying to achieve here as a team. There might be days when you're feeling good and we're playing you too much and we might want to rest you for a couple games.'

"Granted, I've been one of the guys playing the most minutes as of late. And I've been kind of nursing a little tweak in my right adductor; I was kind of was feeling it before the Chivas USA game but I played and managed to get through 75 minutes. It was one of those things where the coach did what was best for the team and rested me. We've got a very important run of games in this last stretch before the playoffs. The team got two good results and I feel good. I'm looking forward to playing in the game this weekend."

So was Johnson surprised at all the outside attention on his absence? There was quite a bit of speculation on social media -- where Johnson is known for being active -- regarding what his lack of involvement was all about.

"There are always going to be perceptions when it comes to me," he said. "You can only control what you can control. ... It doesn't surprise me, but at the end of the day, those people are guessing. They're doing what they do for a living, like to stir up things, like to make stories -- that's how they get attention. Me? I can only control being a Sounders player and giving my all week in and week out for the team."

Johnson went on to reveal he's been talking with some people in the industry and others within the team when it comes to the public perception and fans' reception of professional athletes -- and, more important, how to deal with it.

This was a subject covered in a story I wrote on Johnson earlier this year, when he referred to himself as misunderstood. Schmid and technical director Chris Henderson, who's known EJ since his last stint in MLS, described the forward as emotional.

"I can never win," Johnson said when it comes to some people. "If I don't play or if I'm not scoring goals, it was, 'I told you he couldn't score goals.' If I'm scoring goals, it was, 'Oh, he's a streaky forward.' ... Right now, I think I'm on pace to have the best season in my career. [Ed note: His 0.61 goals/90 minutes average is just short of his career high of 0.63 in 2007] I've got 11 goals in 22 games. That's a goal every other game. I couldn't ask for a better start."

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September 7, 2012 12:56 PM

Osvaldo Alonso looks good to go Saturday, but Mauro Rosales in doubt (Friday notes)

Posted by Joshua Mayers

Seattle Sounders FC Logo.jpgHere are a few notes from Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid's meeting with the media after Friday's practice:

* * *

--- Midfielder Osvaldo Alonso (head) appears to be OK to return to action in Saturday's 1 p.m. home game vs. Chivas USA, according to Schmid. Midfielder Mauro Rosales (quad), however, is a question mark. The captain was limited in Thursday's training after feeling a slight quad tinge after Sunday's grueling game in the 100-degree heat in Dallas. "We're going to be safe rather than aggressive with our approach at this point in the season," Schmid said regarding Rosales' availability.

--- With Real Salt Lake's loss in Houston last night, the Sounders can take back sole possession of second place in the West with a win Saturday. Schmid was asked how important he views the No. 2 seed vs. No. 3.

"It's a huge difference," he said. "The main thing is you're looking at certainly your positioning within the playoffs. I still think playing the second game at home is a benefit. Even last year when we lost the series to Salt Lake, if we hadn't given up that third goal there, having the second game at home obviously showed that it could be a difference, and we could make up a deficit.

"The other thing you have to obviously think about, if you're in second that means you got the second-highest point total in the West. So if you win the Western Conference in the playoffs that means you're the highest point-totaled team out of the West, and if your point total is higher than the team in the East -- you have a better chance of that being so if you're second rather than third -- than that gives you a home game for MLS Cup. So points are important and trying to get as many points as possible are important."

--- Something else Schmid didn't mention regarding seeding, but I think it's worth mentioning, is finishing No. 2 in the West would give the Sounders a better chance at a 2013-14 CCL berth if, for example, San Jose wins Supporters' Shield and advances to MLS Cup (which would give them two of the top four CCL berths). When there's overlap, the extra berths go to the team's with the best record.

--- Schmid said he recorded Adam Johansson's game with Sweden but hasn't been able to watch it yet. The coach also admitted to falling asleep while watching a recording of the Houston-RSL game late last night, but woke up just in time for the late PK.

--- Schmid said the plans are still for Eidur Gudjohnsen to attend Saturday's game and then play in Sunday's reserve game at 11 a.m. vs. Chivas USA at Starfire. I asked the coach how he evaluates a renowned player like Gudjohnsen compared to a regular trialist.

"Obviously with a player of his experience and his caliber it's less of a evaluation of in terms of, 'Hey, can he play or can't he play?' " Schmid explained. "It's a matter of where he's at fitness-wise, where he's at health-wise. You're looking at that as much as anything, and then from there it's also a situation of, 'Can it work financially? Does he understand our situation?' It gives him a chance to look at our team and know where our players are, the strengths and weaknesses that are there.

"He's a good fit in a number of areas because he obviously speaks English, but he also speaks Spanish from all his years at Barcelona; he and (Fredy Montero) were in a good conversation this morning as they were warming up. That helps ease the transition, as well, within the team. ... His experiences are immense, but you've got to know if it works out financially, and you've got to know if it works out for him with what his goals are and what he wants to achieve, as well."

--- Schmid said the midseason addition of Shalrie Joseph, a physical presence in midfield, will help Chivas USA regarding the loss of Oswaldo Minda to international duty. Schmid said he expects Jorge Villafana to replace another player on international duty, Ante Jazic, at left back. The tradeoff for Chivas, Schmid said, is youth and energy in place of experience.

--- Lastly, and with the admission that he sounds like a paranoid coach, Schmid said Chivas USA is still a dangerous team. The visitors still have faint hope for the playoffs, especially with games in hand, but they know they have to win and have to score. Schmid said the key will be defending all those bodies in the attack as Chivas cheats a few extra players forward, and then also burying chances when they get them on the other end.

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September 7, 2012 12:43 PM

Sounders FC vs. Chivas USA, injury report

Posted by Joshua Mayers

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC -- OUT: FW Babayele Sodade (R knee ACL tear); FW David Estrada (L foot fracture); QUESTIONABLE: GK Andrew Weber (R adductor strain); PROBABLE: MF Osvaldo Alonso (head injury); MF Andy Rose (rib fracture)

CHIVAS USA -- DOUBTFUL: MF Peter Vagenas (R hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: DF John Valencia (illness); PROBABLE: MF Ryan Smith (R hamstring strain); FW Juan Pablo Angel (R ankle)

* * *

We heard from coach Sigi Schmid on Friday that Alonso has gotten through the last two days of training just fine since being cleared Wednesday. Rose also looked like he was training in full this week. Estrada is further out from a return.

One notable absence from the report is Mauro Rosales, who looks to be a gametime decision with a slight quad injury.

Eddie Johnson not being listed, plus his comments this week, indicate he should be ready to go.

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September 7, 2012 10:01 AM

Gameday for the U.S. men's national team in Jamaica (Friday links)

Posted by Joshua Mayers

us logo small.jpgFIFA World Cup qualifying is back and the U.S. men's national team plays a big one tonight against Jamaica -- the first of two games in five days against the Reggae Boyz -- on the road at 5 p.m.

The game is being broadcast on BeIN Sport, which is channel 785 on Comcast (it appears to be working, too, as I'm watching it while typing this post).

Here is some preview coverage from SI.com, ESPN.com and The Washington Post.

The U.S. men host Jamaica in another qualifier Tuesday in Columbus. Crew stadium is sold out and Sounders FC broadcaster Kasey Keller will be studio analyst for ESPN's coverage of the game.

Let's get to some links:

* * *

--- In other news involving American internationals, captain Carlos Bocanegra might have some issues with his transfer to Racing Santander, here's an update with Timmy Chandler (who hasn't been involved in the team for a while), and lastly a great feature on Terrence Boyd.

--- And involving some Sounders on international duty, Adam Johansson saw a lot of time for Sweden in an exhibition vs. China, and Mario Martinez faces Cuba in a World Cup qualifier with Honduras today at noon.

--- Did you see Michael Gspurning was a guest on MLSsoccer.com's ExtraTime Radio yesterday?

--- Here's more on the Sounders' reported interest in Honduran defender Wilmer Crisanto.

--- Be sure to check out the changes going on at Sounder at Heart.

--- Here's an update on homegrown players in the college scene.

--- Around the league, here's the latest MLS column from Grantland, the Vancouver Whitecaps announced plans for a new training center, and the league apparently offered Didier Drogba more than $10 million/year when the star forward was weighing options in the offseason.

--- Lastly, a great story on the local scene, where the Kent-Meridian girls soccer team ended a long losing streak Thursday against Kentlake.

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September 6, 2012 12:59 PM

Transcript of a live chat with Steve Zakuani

Posted by Joshua Mayers


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September 6, 2012 12:25 PM

More on Eidur Gudjohnsen's arrival from Eddie Johnson, Fredy Montero, Sigi Schmid

Posted by Joshua Mayers

Trialist Eidur Gudjohnsen had his second training session with the Sounders on Thursday and, once again, was not made available to media.

I was able to catch up with Seattle's star forwards, though, for their thoughts on the high-profile arrival.

Turns out Gudjohnsen is a familiar face to Eddie Johnson. The two trained together at English Premier League club Fulham for two months last year before Johnson went out on loan to lower division Preston North End.

"His resume speaks for itself," Johnson said of Gudjohnsen. "I've had a chance to be with him and train and play with him for two months at Fulham. He's a great professional, a top player, and he can only bring experience into the team."

Added Fredy Montero: "He's a great player. I'll try to learn as much as possible from him. (He's won) many trophies and he's been playing for the top teams around the world. It is like an honor to be with him and hopefully he can stay here."

I also asked coach Sigi Schmid what he has seen from the team's star forwards upon the arrival of an accomplished player like Gudjohnsen.

"We're looking to win a championship this year," Schmid said. "If we can make our team a little bit stronger, we're going to try and make our team a little bit stronger. We never leave any stones unturned. I think they know that, but they've also been very prolific this year. Eddie's done a good job. He's got 11 goals. Fredy, I think over the four years now, is the second highest goal-scorer in the league. Over four goals, he's got 10 goals or more in each of the four seasons, so he's been very consistent, as well. Those guys are there, but we still have games. We still have two CONCACAF games in there. We still have some midweek games. We still have a series where we play three games in a week. You always want to make sure you avoid injuries -- you don't know what's going to happen. Having quality players on your team is never a detriment."

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September 6, 2012 9:22 AM

Chat with Zakuani at 1 p.m. (Thursday links)

Posted by Joshua Mayers

zakuani mug 2012.jpgWe'll be hosting a live chat with Sounders FC midfielder Steve Zakuani at 1 p.m. this afternoon, so be sure to come and bring your questions. Should be a fun one.

Here's our story from Wednesday on Zakuani making his first MLS start post-injury and our timeline on his recovery.

Let's get to some links:

* * *

--- First off, is a yacht of Chelsea FC's billionaire owner Roman Abramovich in Seattle?

--- Here's a fun 'This Day in Sounders History' note.

--- In other local news, the UW men's soccer team is getting love in the polls, Seattle U dropped a game to Sacramento State on Wednesday, and Jalen Markey, a Renton native and defender in the Sounders Academy, has been called up for a U.S. U-18 men's national team camp in Holland.

--- Around the league, here's a great read on Kansas City's transformation into a soccer city, the LA Galaxy have officially signed Christian Wilhelmsson, and Toronto FC's Torsten Frings needs hip surgery that will keep him out for the year.

--- Also, here are the latest weekly Castrol Index ratings, the FC Dallas coach gave Seattle a lot of credit for shutting down David Ferreira, and here's an update on the Sounders the IFFHS rankings for club teams worldwide.

--- The U.S. men's national team takes on Jamaica in FIFA World Cup qualifying on Friday. Here's a preview from SI.com. Another famous Jamaican, Usain Bolt, earned some headlines for potential participation in a charity game for Manchester United.

--- Here's a preview of the USL Pro championship game this weekend between the Charleston Battery and Wilmington Hammerheads.

--- Lastly, did you know Didier Drogba is called The Devil Beast in China?

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September 5, 2012 3:46 PM

Why didn't Eddie Johnson travel to Dallas? (Wednesday notes)

Posted by Joshua Mayers

The question posed in the headline is one I've received a few times in the past few days, so what better way to address it than with an explanation from Sigi Schmid? The Sounders FC coach was asked as much after Wednesday's practice.

Eddie Johnson, from my perspective, practiced in full and looked ready for a return to action Saturday against Chivas USA.

"For Eddie, when you look at it, he hasn't really played a full season in a long time," Schmid said. "We felt that there was a little bit of an adductor strain that wasn't all that serious, but we figured now was a good time to sort of rest him, let him regenerate. He worked hard with (fitness coach Dave Tenney) last week to continue to build that base. But it's more because of the fact that this is his first full season back and I think he's going to be a vital, critical piece for us as we go into the playoffs and we go into the final stretch. So we figured now is a good time and we felt we weren't going to get a week in there."

Schmid noted that the Sounders really don't have opportunities to give players extended breaks during the season. He compared the situation to Vancouver, which gets this weekend off from MLS play.

"We didn't have the luxury like Vancouver has. ... With Eddie, we felt this was a good time to throw a week in," Schmid said. "When we go to Portland and go to Honduras and came back against San Jose, we're going to need him in that three-game stretch. This was the only window that we felt we had."

Here are some other notes:

* * *

--- Midfielder Osvaldo Alonso, who left Sunday's game with a head injury, was scheduled to follow concussion protocol after Wednesday's practice. Schmid expected Alonso, who needed six stitches to repair the head wound, would be cleared. The midfielder was a very light session off the side while the rest of the team trained.

--- Andy Rose (cracked rib) appeared to train in full and Schmid said the midfielder is still feeling pain but getting better every day. David Estrada (broken foot) warmed up with the team and participated in early drills, but worked off to the side at the end. "We'll push him a little bit further tomorrow," Schmid said.

--- Schmid made note of the Sounders getting goals from different areas, the subject of a blog post from earlier in the week. "That just makes our offense more dangerous," the coach said.

--- Lastly, Schmid said he thinks there aren't many left back in MLS playing better than Leo Gonzalez right now. The Costa Rican is playing more consistently, according to the coach, and has cut down his turnovers with the ball to go along with always steady defensive play.

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September 5, 2012 1:58 PM

Reaction to Eidur Gudjohnsen's arrival to Sounders FC training

Posted by Joshua Mayers

gudjohnsen1.JPG

Here's a look at the new arrival to Sounders FC training this week, Eidur Gudjohnsen (left). The 33 year old, who has played for clubs like Chelsea FC and FC Barcelona, is out of contract and exploring this option in Seattle.

So will a deal get done? General manager Adrian Hanauer said it's possible and I've included an interview with him below. There's also reaction from head coach Sigi Schmid and goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, another alumnus of the Greek league (Gudjohnsen's last club was AEK Athens).

* * *

ADRIAN HANAUER, general manager and part owner

(Can you talk about the process of bringing Gudjohnsen here?) "This one was a little bit out of the blue. We were contacted by his representation and anytime you get a chance to look at a player of Eidur's quality and (soccer resume), you jump at it. He seems like a really good guy, wants to be here and show what he can do, likes this area -- has been here a couple of times to the Northwest -- so we'll see. Obviously we got a chance to see him today and we'll get a chance throughout the week, and then we'll see from there."

Continue reading this post ...


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September 5, 2012 9:24 AM

Back to action at home (Wednesday links)

Posted by Joshua Mayers

Seattle Sounders FC Logo.jpgIt has been over a week since Sounders FC trained at home. There's been travel to Trinidad, travel to Dallas and travel back, but the team returns to action today and will begin preparations for Saturday's home game vs. Chivas USA.

There is expected, of course, to be a high-profile newcomer in the mix as Eidur Gudjohnsen is set to join the team on trial. His is a name that resonates worldwide and has already raised the potential issue of competitive balance in MLS.

The search for players always continues. There's reason to believe Gudjohnsen won't be the only trialist brought in before season's end and here's a report saying the Sounders are targeting young Honduran defender Wilmer Crisanto, a member of this summer's Olympic team.

Let's get to some links:

* * *

--- Here's a fun story on the Sounders-Timbers rivalry, much through the eyes of Roger Levesque, from Hemispheres Magazine of United Airlines. As only he can, Levesque drops a fun little quote regarding the upcoming rivalry clash with Portland: "I just might be involved. There may be one last encounter yet."

--- Jalen Markey is listed as an academy player to watch in this story, and according to this tweet from the team's director of youth development, Markey has committed to Syracuse.

--- Did you see Kasey Keller will be throwing out the first pitch at the Mariners game tonight?

--- The U.S. men's national team is up three spots to No. 33 in the FIFA world rankings.

--- Regarding some U.S. Soccer stars, here's another story on Clint Dempsey after his big move to Tottenham and here's one on Megan Rapinoe, who starred for the Sounders Women this past season.

--- And here's a video interview with coach Jurgen Klinsmann, plus an update on Comcast's efforts to get BeIN Sport up and running on cable. Here's a viewing option for you regarding Friday's World Cup qualifier vs. Jamaica.

--- Around MLS, here are the players leaguewide called up for World Cup qualifiers, here's a historical look at San Jose's potent offense, Montreal's Patrice Bernier edged out Fredy Montero for Player of the Month, and it's been a year since the passing of Bobby Rhine.

--- The NASL announced some changes to the league season beginning in 2013. It will be split into two, divided by a summer break, and the winners of each will face off in the Soccer Bowl.

--- Around the world of soccer, Alessandro del Piero is apparently headed for Australia, Michael Owen is headed to Stoke City and will join Geoff Cameron (the subject of this Q&A), and Cristiano Ronaldo is sad (big news it seems).

--- GoHuskies.com has the update on recent honors for some UW women's soccer players.

--- Lastly, here's a fun goal...

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September 5, 2012 8:10 AM

A timeline of Steve Zakuani's comeback

Posted by Joshua Mayers

zakuani chelsea.jpgPhoto credit: John Lok, The Seattle Times

Our story for Wednesday's newspaper focused on Sounders FC midfielder Steve Zakuani (right) making his first MLS start since the devastating leg injury in Sunday's road game against FC Dallas.

He called it the final checkmark on the road back.

There was a timeline of Zakuani's recovery included in the story and I wanted to post an extended timeline here on the blog with links to our coverage. A couple other moments to look out for in the 24 year old's return are first goal and first 90-minute performance.

Let's get to it:

* * *

April 22, 2011 -- Suffers double leg-fracture in Colorado (postgame reaction here)
April 26, 2011 -- Returns to Seattle after multiple surgeries, writes letter to fans
April 28, 2011 -- Rapids' Brian Mullan suspended MLS record 10 games for tackle
April 30, 2011 -- Fans raise No. 11 cards at 11:00 mark of Toronto FC home game
May 21, 2011 -- Attends game at CenturyLink Field for the first time as a spectator
June 2, 2011 -- Writes blog post for SoundersFC.com on progress
June 6, 2011 -- Attends practice for the first time as a spectator
June 10, 2011 -- Gives first interview with media, says he's forgiven Mullan
July 16, 2011 -- Rapids play in Seattle but Mullan doesn't make the trip
Aug. 25, 2011 -- Coach Sigi Schmid indicates Zakuani won't play again in 2011
Nov. 7, 2011 -- Reveals he had serious condition called compartment syndrome
Jan. 20, 2012 -- Participates in full practice when training camp opens
Jan. 26, 2012 -- Reveals his first timeline for recovery, targets summer return
Feb. 2, 2012 -- Grant Wahl's SI story comes out with quotes from Zakuani, Mullan
March 18, 2012 -- Zakuani says he's close to reaching his pre-injury top speed
April 1, 2012 -- Plays against opposition in a training game vs. Gonzaga
April 14, 2012 -- Mullan returns to Seattle for first time, booed on every touch
April 22, 2012 -- Zakuani talks on the one-year anniversary of the tackle
June 1, 2012 -- Earns first MLS action in reserve game vs. Vancouver
June 20, 2012 -- On bench for MLS regular season game vs. Sporting KC
July 7, 2012 -- Makes MLS return vs. Colorado, exchanges jerseys with Mullan
July 18, 2012 -- Plays in a friendly against Chelsea FC
Aug. 12, 2012 -- Plays first 90-minute game with reserves at San Jose
Aug. 19, 2012 -- Scores twice in reserve game vs. LA Galaxy
Sept. 2, 2012 -- Starts MLS game at FC Dallas and earns first assist since April 16, 2011

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September 4, 2012 8:55 PM

My MLS power rankings -- Week 26

Posted by Joshua Mayers

San Jose Earthquakes Logo.jpg1. (1) San Jose Earthquakes 16-6-5
Star forward Chris Wondolowski has just one goal in seven games, but the team has gone 4-2-1.

2. (2) Sporting Kansas City 15-7-5
Fifteen wins are already most in a season since 2000 (16), including last year's East-leading 13.

3. (3) Seattle Sounders FC 12-6-8
Steve Zakuani's burst of old on Sunday's spectacular assist turned heads around the league.

4. (4) New York Red Bulls 13-7-7
Could Wilman Conde be the answer at left back? He starred and scored there vs. D.C.

5. (6) Chicago Fire 13-8-5
Owns the league's best record after scoring first (8-0-1) after Seattle couldn't hold on in Dallas.

Continue reading this post ...


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September 4, 2012 4:35 PM

Eidur Gudjohnsen to join Sounders FC this week on trial

Posted by Joshua Mayers

gudjohnsen mug.jpgEidur Gudjohnsen, formerly of Chelsea FC and FC Barcelona, will join Sounders FC for a tryout this week, the team confirmed Tuesday. The Icelandic forward/midfielder is a free agent who most recently played for AEK Athens in Greece.

Even though the summer transfer window has closed, the Sounders could sign Gudjohnsen since he's out of contract.

The MLS roster freeze is Sept. 15, so he'd have to be added before then.

Gudjohnsen, 33, has been to Seattle a couple times before. He scored for Chelsea in a 4-2 win here against Celtic FC of Scotland in 2004 and also played for Barcelona in a 4-0 win against the Sounders in 2009.

Trophies collected in his career include a UEFA Champions League title, two EPL titles, a La Liga title, a Dutch league title and several others.

I'll have more on this one throughout the week. I wouldn't be entirely surprised to see Gudjohnsen feature on Sunday's MLS Reserve League game against Chivas USA.

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September 4, 2012 2:09 PM

Sounders FC's midweek injury report

Posted by Joshua Mayers

SOUNDERS FC -- OUT: FW Babayele Sodade (R knee ACL tear); FW David Estrada (L foot fracture). DOUBTFUL: None. QUESTIONABLE: GK Andrew Weber (R Adductor Strain). PROBABLE: Osvaldo Alonso (head injury); Andy Rose (rib fracture).

* * *

A team spokesman has passed along Sounders FC's injury report for this week. Alonso is the obvious addition as he had to leave Sunday's game in a bloody mess after knocking heads with FC Dallas midfielder Julian de Guzman.

You'll also notice Rose has been upgraded from out.

We'll get an update on Alonso, Rose and the others when the Sounders return to training Wednesday.

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September 4, 2012 11:23 AM

At long last, Sounders FC getting goals from its midfielders

Posted by Joshua Mayers

rosales rose.jpgPhoto credit: Bettina Hansen, The Seattle Times

Back in July, just after the summer transfer window opened, Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid indicated a lack of goal scoring in midfield was a concern and something that could be addressed. Seattle went on to sign two offensive-minded midfielders before the window closed: Christian Tiffert and Mario Martinez.

So how bad was it early on?

Well, in the first 18 games of the MLS regular season, Seattle got one goal from a midfielder in the run of play: Mauro Rosales' winner in 1-0 home win against Philadelphia on May 5. Brad Evans had a goal on March 23 against Houston, but it was a penalty kick.

So how good has it been in the eight games since?

Well, six different midfielders have accounted for seven goals. Take a look:

*Note: I know Rosales could technically be considered a forward in Sunday's 1-1 tie in Dallas since the formation was officially called a 4-3-3, but I'd argue it played more like a 4-5-1 as Fredy Montero was up front on his own for most of it.

*Note: And, yes, it's probably worth mention that the only multi-goal scorer of the group, Alvaro Fernandez, is no longer with the team.

July 7 -- 2-1 win vs. Colorado, Alvaro Fernandez scored
July 15 -- 2-2 tie at New York, Alvaro Fernandez scored
July 28 -- 2-1 win at Colorado, Osvaldo Alonso scored
Aug. 5 -- 4-0 win vs. LA Galaxy, Alex Caskey/Andy Rose scored
Aug. 11 -- 2-1 loss at San Jose, N/A
Aug. 18 -- 2-0 win vs. Vancouver, N/A
Aug. 25 -- 6-2 win at Chivas USA, Brad Evans scored
Sept. 2 -- 1-1 tie at FC Dallas, Mauro Rosales scored

* * *

You'll also notice that the Sounders haven't been shut out in the last eight games. Seattle had been held without a goal five times in the first 18 games.

With such balance, to go alongside the stellar form of Fredy Montero and Eddie Johnson, it should be no surprise that Sounders FC's offense is playing at its best.

Seattle is scoring 1.58 goals per game and catching up with last year's pace of 1.65, which was the best in MLS in 2011.

Any thoughts?

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September 4, 2012 10:20 AM

Sounders off again (Tuesday links)

Posted by Joshua Mayers

As a reminder, the Sounders will take today off from training and return to action Wednesday. A rare one-game week provides an opportunity to get a little rest.

Let's get to some links:

* * *

--- The UW Huskies are getting some love in college soccer polls. The women are featured in Soccer America's latest and the men are included in these MLSsoccer.com rankings.

--- The local youth club with the best crest has been determined.

--- Looks like the Sounders have made a hire on the digital media front.

--- David Beckham discussed coming back in 2013 or retiring in this story. According to the Galaxy team website, Swedish midfielder Christian Wilhemsson will travel for an upcoming reserve game and has reportedly signed already with the MLS team.

--- Here's a story on the future of adidas' micoach technology.

--- Clint Dempsey discusses his move to Tottenham and exit from Fulham in this story.

--- Lastly, Steve Zakuani authored this blog post recently and passed along this entertaining news clip.

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September 3, 2012 10:58 AM

Happy Labor Day! (Monday links)

Posted by Joshua Mayers

Seattle Sounders FC Logo.jpgThe Sounders are en route from Texas today and will take the day off from training. As such, there isn't much expected news for this Labor Day.

The team is set to resume training Wednesday in preparation for Saturday's home game against Chivas USA. Remember, Seattle will be a little shorthanded as defender Adam Johansson and midfielder Mario Martinez are set to join their national teams -- Sweden and Honduras, respectively -- for FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Certain things to keep an eye on this week: The health of Andy Rose and David Estrada, and how close they might be to a return from injury.

Let's get to some links:

* * *

--- As a followup to Saturday's news that U.S. women's national team coach Pia Sundhage is stepping down, it looks like she'll be taking over as coach of Sweden's national team, as expected. The U.S. Soccer release had indicated she was leaving to explore opportunities in her home country.

--- Speaking of Swedes, it looks like the Galaxy have had Christian Wilhelmsson on trial recently.

--- And speaking of women's soccer, here's a story after the USWNT's 8-0 beating of Costa Rica regarding the future of the sport on the ladies side.

--- Fredy Montero did an interview with The New York Times Goal! blog and in it referenced that he still has two years left on his contract with the Sounders.

--- Elsewhere around the league, New England forward Saer Sene has torn his ACL (thus ending what might've been a Newcomer of the Year-type season), the Vancouver Whitecaps will reportedly have an announcement regarding a new training center soon, and Seattle holds its spot at No. 2 in ESPN.com's power rankings.

--- On the college scene, the Seattle U women earned a win over the weekend, but the men narrowly lost to Gonzaga.

--- Lastly, did you see Liverpool owner John Henry has penned a letter to the fans after what has been a historically bad start for the Reds this Premier League season?

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September 2, 2012 10:41 PM

Steve Zakuani: "The second half was just about getting a point and getting back to Seattle to regroup. We'll take that."

Posted by Joshua Mayers

zakuani dallas.jpgPhoto credit: Ronald Martinez, Getty Images

Here are some team-provided quotes and stats from Sounders FC's 1-1 tie on the road Sunday against FC Dallas. Seattle has gone unbeaten in 28 MLS games when scoring the first goal (23-0-5) and has just one loss in its last 10 league games (5-1-4). A big talking point was Steve Zakuani's first start in 500 days since he suffered the devastating leg injury, which he rewarded with a fine assist on the Sounders' lone goal by Mauro Rosales.

* * *

SIGI SCHMID, Sounders FC head coach

(General thoughts...) "We've had to go through this week with the traveling, and so forth, and the early morning airport calls, the lack of sleep the guys have had to deal with... I was very pleased at what we showed. It shows our character and morale. We knew we have to hang on at times, try to get as many fresh bodies as we could out there. We didn't expect [Osvaldo Alonso] to get hurt, so that forced a change on us that we didn't want to make, but I was really pleased with our character."

Continue reading this post ...


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September 2, 2012 7:04 PM

Sounders FC 1, FC Dallas 1, video highlights

Posted by Joshua Mayers


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September 2, 2012 6:04 PM

Final: Sounders FC 1, FC Dallas 1, live chat

Posted by Joshua Mayers

* * *

Join me at 4 p.m. (or perhaps earlier) for a live chat during Sounders FC's road game at FC Dallas. I'll post lineups below when they become available.

Sounders FC lineup: GK Michael Gspurning, D Adam Johansson, D Jeff Parke, D Patrick Ianni, D Leo Gonzalez, M Osvaldo Alonso, M Christian Tiffert, M Brad Evans, F Mauro Rosales, F Fredy Montero, F Steve Zakuani

Sounders FC bench: GK Josh Ford, D Marc Burch, D Zach Scott, M Servando Carrasco, M Alex Caskey, M Mario Martinez, F Sammy Ochoa

FC Dallas lineup: GK Hartman, D Zach Loyd, D George John, D Matt Hedges, D Jair Benitez, M Brek Shea, M Jackson, M Andrew Jacobson, M Julian de Guzman, M David Ferreira, F Blas Perez

FC Dallas bench: GK Chris Seitz, D Hernan Pertuz, D Carlos Rodriguez, M James Marcelin, M Bryan Leyva, M Daniel Hernandez, F Scott Sealy

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September 2, 2012 12:36 PM

USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann calls in 25 for FIFA World Cup qualifiers vs. Jamaica

Posted by Joshua Mayers

The U.S. men's national team faces Jamaica in a pair of FIFA World Cup qualifiers -- first on the road Friday and then at home on Sept. 11. On Sunday, coach Jurgen Klinsmann announced his squad of 25 for those games.

You'll notice Michael Bradley and Landon Donovan aren't listed due to injury. Other notable absences are Chris Wondolowski, the leading scorer in MLS, and Oguchi Onyewu, who just transferred to a UEFA Champions League team in Malaga of Spain's La Liga.

Also, reports came out just after the squad's release that Josh Gatt has had to withdraw due to a hamstring injury.

The U.S. and Jamaica are currently tied atop Group A in the semifinals of CONCACAF qualifying (the U.S. holds the tiebreaker). Guatemala and Antigua & Barbuda face off in other Group A action.

"Obviously these are two huge games for us with six points on the line," said Klinsmann in a news release. "We are in a good position at the moment in our group, but we are going into the games against Jamaica with the mindset that we want to win both. We feel very confident in the group that we have coming in. We are developing a lot of good chemistry and experience in the team, and now our goal is to become more and more consistent. We are ready to put in a lot of hard work this week and will be prepared on Friday to get a result."

Here is the squad:

Goalkeepers (4): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders (9): Carlos Bocanegra (Racing Santander), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover), Maurice Edu (Stoke City), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis), Michael Parkhurst (Nordsjaelland), Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City)

Midfielders (8): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Joshua Gatt (Molde), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Jose Torres (Pachuca), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Forwards (4): Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur), Herculez Gomez (Santos)

* * *

Any thoughts?

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September 2, 2012 11:29 AM

Sounders FC vs. FC Dallas, preview and prediction

Posted by Joshua Mayers

FC Dallas Logo.jpgSounders FC (12-6-7) vs. FC Dallas (8-12-8)
Sunday, Sept. 2, 4 p.m., FC Dallas Stadium, Frisco, Texas
TV/radio: KONG-TV 6/16, KIRO-FM 97.3 (Ross Fletcher, Kasey Keller)
Spanish radio: La Gran D 99.3 FM
Referee: Sorin Stoica

KEY FC DALLAS PLAYERS

M David Ferreira -- The 2010 MLS MVP is back from the long-term injury suffered early last season and is playing up to that MVP level. Has made Dallas a whole new team with two goals and six assists in his past seven games. His return has coincided with new-found team success, as well, with a 5-3-3 record after being one of the worst teams in the league during his absence.

F Blas Perez -- The 31-year-old Panamian is the team's co-leader with five goals despite having missed 12 games recently with a foot injury. Might've been in line for MLS Newcomer of the Year consideration had he stayed healthy. Played 49 minutes as a sub in last week's 2-0 loss to the Galaxy and should be in line for his first start since May. Appears to be the answer at forward, which was a serious issue for much of last season.

GK Kevin Hartman -- Has made a lot of saves this season (74), but his save percentage of 65 is among of the worst of regular starters. Hasn't seemingly been up to his usual level this year but still boasts league GK records in wins (179), losses (142), minutes (36,720), games (410), starts (405), saves (1,450) and clean sheets (111). Also phenomenal at PKs, with just one allowed in four attempts against this season.

Continue reading this post ...


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September 1, 2012 11:23 AM

Pia Sundhage to step down as USWNT coach (Saturday links)

Posted by Joshua Mayers

us logo small.jpgBig news came out Saturday morning that U.S. women's national team coach Pia Sundhage will be stepping down to pursue opportunities in her native Sweden.

Sundhage was hired in November of 2007 and went 88-6-10 with the U.S. women, including two Olympic gold-medal runs and a trip to the 2011 Women's World Cup final, which the team lost to Japan on penalty kicks.

"She deserves a tremendous amount of credit for the amazing success the U.S. Women's National Team had during the past five years," said U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati in a news release. "On behalf of U.S. Soccer, we sincerely appreciate Pia's hard work, dedication and commitment to the organization. We wish her all the best in the future."

The search for Sundhage's replacement will begin immediately but there is no timetable regarding the next hire.

"It was an honor to be able to coach these players for five years and I learned a tremendous amount from them," Sundhage said in the release.

Any thoughts? Let's get to some links:

* * *

--- Here's a good tracker of Friday's transfer deadline drama before the European window closed. The big move was Clint Dempsey's to Tottenham, which was a little bit of a surprise. In other action involving Americans, Oguchi Onyewu moved to Spain's Malaga, a UEFA Champions League team. Carlos Bocanegra landed at Racing Santander in Spain and Maurice Edu, as expected, finalized a move to Stoke City.

--- In a couple MLS links: SI.com takes a look at the resurgence of veteran forward Alan Gordon in San Jose and here's a look at the Sounders from a Dallas perspective.

--- FOXSports.com has a feature on Geoff Cameron, who is settling in at Stoke City.

--- The UW men's soccer team improved to 3-0 last night with a 3-2 win over Wisconsin. Dylan Tucker-Gangnes scored twice, including the winner. The Husky women improved to 4-0.

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September 1, 2012 10:34 AM

Sounders FC vs. FC Dallas, injury report

Posted by Joshua Mayers

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC -- OUT: FW Babayele Sodade (R knee ACL tear); FW David Estrada (L foot fracture); MF Andy Rose (rib fracture); QUESTIONABLE: GK Andrew Weber (R abductor strain)

FC DALLAS -- OUT: DF Ugo Ihemelu (concussion symptoms); DF Alex Lee (lower abdominal strain); QUESTIONABLE: FW Fabian Castillo (R hamstring strain); MF Ricardo Villar (R foot strain); PROBABLE: FW Blas Perez (R foot sprain)

* * *

The only change from the midweek report is Weber's upgrade to questionable from out, but you would still think Josh Ford will serve as the backup goalkeeper Sunday.

Coach Sigi Schmid gave updates on Rose and Estrada in Friday's teleconference. In short, Rose is at about 75-80% and will still need some time. Estrada has been cleared to practice, which means he should be a week or two away from being available.

Castillo would be a big loss for the hosts having scored in three of his last four games. Schmid expects Perez will be able to start.

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