Friday, November 29, 2013 @ 10:49am
The noted English writer Charles Dickens captured the essence of the Seattle Sounders FC's season in the opening paragraph of his literary classic A Tale of Two Cities . Using Dickens' phrases, let's take a look at how the year played out for the Rave Green.
It was the best of times...
On September 23rd, the Sounders defeated Real Salt Lake 2-0 to win their fifth match in a row before a raucous home crowd of 55,107. The victory elevated Seattle to take the Supporters Shield lead over Real Salt Lake and the New York Red Bulls by one point with two games in hand.
It was the worst of times...
Seattle ended the regular season with three draws and five losses to finish fourth in the Western Conference standings. They moved on to win the one-game knockout round 2-0 against the Colorado Rapids. In their next playoff matchup against the Portland Timbers, the Sounders were eliminated when they lost 5-3 in the two-game total goals series.
(Lamar Neagle--Photo:Jane Gershovich)
It was the age of wisdom...
Forward Obafemi Martins signed with the Sounders in March. He recorded eight goals and four assists. In 2012, Seattle sent forwards Lamar Neagle and Mike Fucito to Montreal in exchange for Eddie Johnson. Neagle returned to the Sounders in 2013 and matched Martins' goal and assist totals.
It was the age of foolishness...
Seattle acquired midfielder Shalrie Joseph as a designated player. He relinquished the DP slot once Dempsey arrived. Joseph was hurt most of the year. He scored one goal and one assist in eleven games.
"We would have liked to see Shalrie to have been able to give us more and stay healthy," general manager and co-owner Adrian Hanauer said during his season ending media conference call. "Again, that's on me to go back and think through what I could have done differently throughout the year."
(Michael Gspurning--Photo: Jane Gershovich)
It was the epoch of belief...
During August and September five-match winning streak, goalkeeper Michael Gspurning allowed one goal and recorded four shutouts, or ten for the season.
It was the epoch of incredulity...
In the first two October MLS matchups, Gspurning gave up nine goals in the losses to Colorado (5-1) and Vancouver (4-1). Marcus Hahnemann replaced Gspurning in the next two games. He returned to the starting rotation in the last game of the season and rest of the playoffs.
It was the season of Light...
The Sounders announced Dempsey's signing in mid-August before 65,000 fans, making him the league's highest paid player.
It was the season of Darkness...
Dempsey tallied one one goal and one assist in all competitions.
It was the spring of hope...
After a successful return last year from his 2011 leg fracture, midfielder/winger Steve Zakuani was ready to make an impact in 2013 and once again showcase his flashy moves and speed.
It was the winter of despair...
Zakuani underwent hernia surgery in late June. He recorded one assist in eight games.
(Eddie Johnson--Photo: Jane Gershovich)
We had everything before us...
Martins, Dempsey, Johnson, Neagle, Zakuani, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Mauro Rosales, Gspurning: the MLS Cup appeared to be within Seattle's grasp.
We had nothing before us...
Owners Hanauer and Joe Roth "vote of confidence" made head coach Sigi Schmid's 2014 coaching status tenuous at best. Rumors are rampant that Seattle is shopping leading scorer Johnson to other MLS teams. Dempsey re-injured his calf in preparation for a friendly against Scotland on November 14.
Sunday, November 3, 2013 @ 2:37pm
The Portland Timbers held on to a 2-1 lead in their first leg Western Conference playoffs against the Seattle Sounders FC .
Portland forwards Ryan Johnson and Darlington Nagbe scored in the 15th and 67th minutes of play, respectively.
Osvaldo Alonso's 90th minute strike reduced the deficit to one in the two-game aggregate goals format. Alonso's tally was Seattle's first goal ever in five previous playoff first leg matchups.
Seattle forward Clint Dempsey was robbed by Portland keeper Donovan Ricketts in the 20th minute. Dempsey's shot appeared headed towards the upper right corner of the net until an extended Ricketts made the block.
Seattle's newest and high-profile signing headed down the ball in front of the net with three minutes left in regulation time. The ball bounced high off the pitch and struck the crossbar.
"I was happy with the looks that I got and getting touches on the ball," Dempsey said after the match. "It just seemed like one of those nights where it wasn’t going to go in for me."
In the video below, Portland head coach Caleb Porter, Johnson and Ricketts shared their thoughts on the match. A despondent Sigi Schmid provided his views on the return match on Thursday in Portland.
Thursday, October 31, 2013 @ 8:33pm
Seattle--The Sounders defeated Colorado 2-0 with goals from Brad Evans and Eddie Johnson. Clint Dempsey notched his first assist as a Sounder on Johnson's goal in the 93rd minute.
Seattle will be without keeper Michael Gspurning for the first leg playoff match against the Portland Timbers on Saturday. The Austrian net minder caught a ball outside the penalty area that resulted in a red card and automatic ejection late in the match. Marcus Hahnemann will replace Gspurning in the nets.
In the video below, head coach Sigi Schmid addressed the keeper change in his post game comments. Gspurning shared his thoughts on the ejection, while Johnson discussed the improvement in playing with Dempsey.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013 @ 11:21am
The Sounders expect a crowd of over 64,000 fans for Sunday's last regular season match against the LA Galaxy. Supporters will be wondering which team will show up.
With the playoffs looming, will it be the side that lost one match in August and September? Or, is it the current Sounders riding a late season four-game losing streak?
Some of the key considerations include:
Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid started Marcus Hahnemann the last two regular season matches in place of season long starter Michael Gspurning.
Schmid pulled the Austrian keeper after he gave up nine goals in two games. Hahnemann's lost his two away starts by scores of 0-1 and 0-2 to Portland and FC Dallas, respectively.
Lamar Neagle (Wikimedia Commons)
Despite the presence of Eddie "Show Me The Money" Johnson, Obafemi Martins, Clint Dempsey and Lamar Neagle the Sounders are 13th in goals scored. Johnson leads the team with nine, with Martins and Neagle tied with eight each.
The lack of chemistry and offensive production could be attributed to nagging injuries, national team callups and an ever-changing lineup.
The high-profile and multi-million dollar signing of Dempsey was supposed to be a turning point for the Seattle franchise. Management must be concerned with the lack of production from the former English Premier League player.
In 561 minutes of play, he's failed to record a single goal or assist. Dempsey's been the recipient of several hard tackles and currently suffering from a shoulder injury.
Should he find his scoring touch in the playoffs, all will be forgiven.
Home field advantage
Seattle's lost two home games in 16 matches (10-2-4 34 points), and could exceed their previous record of 35 points with a win over the Galaxy. In seven matches where home attendance exceeded 53,000, the Sounders won each one.
Head coach Sigi Schmid.
Schmid's faced numerous challenges this year: the Dempsey acquisition hoopla, an ever changing game day roster due to World Cup qualification, shaky late-season goalkeeping and assorted injuries to key players.
Team owners aren't satisfied with making the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year. The pressure's on the veteran MLS gaffer to bring a championship home to Seattle.
Should the Sounders fail to come close in their quest, look for significant player and coaching changes before the start of the 2014 season.
Sunday, October 6, 2013 @ 8:44am
The Colorado Rapids humiliated the visiting Sounders FC squad by scoring four goals in the first half and eventually winning 5-1. Colorado's victory ended Seattle's seven-game unbeaten streak.
Head coach Sigi Schmid entered the match with several key players out due to injuries: forwards Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins, midfielder Shalrie Joseph, defenders Djimi Traore and Leo Gonzalez.
Colorados' Deshorn Brown notched the first of his two goals 13 seconds into the match, ansd tallied his second 30 minutes later. Dillon Powers, Drew Moor and Gabriel Torres rounded out the rest of the Rapids' goal scorers.
Sounders FC forward Eddie Johnson scored his ninth goal of the year in the 63rd minute to prevent the shuthout.
Eddie Johnson--Wikimedia Commons
Man of the Match: Deshorn Brown
"[The ball] was coming my way and I just took it, and we just started from there. We played a long ball and headed back to Torres, then he played back to me and I just ran up to it and put it in the back of the goal."--Deshorn Brown, Colorado Rapids forward
"It was great for him [to get the early goal], and Deshorn needed it as well...I spoke to him during the week, and he knew how badly we needed this result. He did excellent at training during the week. Everything came together for Deshorn [Brown] today, and we're very glad for him."--Oscar Pareja, Colorado Rapids head coach
Colorado's Fast Start
"When you score 13 seconds into the game, that's a pretty quick start. To be honest, that kickoff is something we work on. We train on that. We don't always expect to score off that, but to get in their half, get up the field and start putting early pressure on them. I think we have started slow at times at home, and usually we use the second half to build off of, and we score goals late, but this was different tonight, this was pretty special."--Drew Moor, Colorado Rapids defender
Seattle's Poor First Half Performance
"No, it's good to get your ass kicked at this time of the year, just to remind you that this is the real thing and if you don?t come out completely prepared mentally and ready to give everything you have, you're going to get your ass kicked."--Sigi Schmid, Seattle Sounders FC head coach
Sounders' Improved Second Half
"Well, the message was that we wanted to win the second half, which we did, up until they got the injury time goal from Torres. But just that we needed to show some character, to play better, to win the second half. That was our objective. And not to do anything stupid, not to pick up a red card, which obviously we didn't accomplish (Zach Scott was sent off after receiving his second yellow card of the match)...But at the end of the day, Colorado was better than us today."
Saturday, September 14, 2013 @ 9:48am
Seattle forwards Obafemi Martins and Lamar Neagle tallied their eight goals of the year in the 2-0 victory over Real Salt Lake. The win before 55,107 fans was Seattle's fifth in a row and put them at the top of the Western Conference standings and first place in overall points.
Courtesy of Jane Gershovich
With Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson starting the game on the bench due to their National Team commitments, Martins and Neagle showcased Seattle's offensive depth. Dempsey and Johnson eventually entered the game in the second half.
"With the minutes that Clint (Dempsey) had played and the minutes Eddie (Johnson) had on Tuesday... we decided, 'Hey, we've been in a good run and they are a little bit tired, let's use them off the bench today,'" Schmid said. "We knew they would participate and help us. Clint was unlucky with a couple of good chances and Eddie was almost in there as well a couple of times...It just shows the depth of our team."
Seattle notched their fifth win in a row and holds a single point edge over Real Salt Lake with two games in hand. The Sounders extended their home unbeaten streak to to 13 games (10-0-3).
Below is the video from the post-match press conferences with Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis and Schmid:
Sunday, September 8, 2013 @ 2:38pm
Lamar Neagle tallied his seventh goal of the year in the 2-1 victory over the Chicago Fire. The Fire struck in the 25th minute on Mike Magee's shot inside the post. The former Galaxy player's 15th goal of the year maintained his status as the MLS' scoring leader.
Lamar Neagle (Wikimedia Commons)
The game remained tied until the 89th minute of play. Zach Scott's cross was redirected by Gonzalo Segares past a surprised Sean Johnson. With the win, Seattle extended its home unbeaten streak to 12 games (9-0-3).
Neagle's strike in the 40th minute was his seventh MLS goal of the year, tying him with forward Eddie Johnson for the team lead.
The Sounders last minute victory took place without the services of Johnson, Clint Dempsey and Brad Evans. All three were selected for the US Men's National Team matches against Costa Rica and Mexico. Evans stayed in Seattle to recuperate from a calf strain suffered in last weekend's match against Columbus.
Seattle forward Obafemi Martins returned to action and led the Sounders with four shots, two of which were on goal.
Friday's matchup in Seattle against Real Salt Lake positions the Rave Green to take Western Conference lead. The Sounders have two games in hand and are within two points of first place Real Salt Lake.
Monday, August 26, 2013 @ 5:23am
Clint Dempsey, the Sounders' newest and priciest acquisition, made his first home appearance in front of 67,385 on Sunday night. His debut added to the Cascadia derby intensity against long-time rivals, the Portland Timbers.
Forward Eddie Johnson scored the lone goal on a header from midfielder Mauro Rosales. His tally provided the margin to send the Sounders into fifth place in the Western Conference.
"The ball got out wide to Mauro and I just had to attack," Johnson said. "I knew it was going to be a frustrating game, but for me I wanted to use my experience and when the opportunity came rise to the occasion."
Dempsey took his fair share of lumps from Portland's defenders. He noted the physical nature of MLS in his post-match press conference.
"It's going to be physically played. It's a man's game," Dempsey said "You just have to keep getting up and try to figure out ways to avoid challenges and try to get good looks-try to play people through, try to get shots on goal."
Despite failing to score in his third match as a Sounder, Dempsey remains optimistic.
"I'm happy with the way things are going," the former English Premier League player said. "I feel like I'm getting stronger every game in fitness and my quality of touches, and the looks that I'm getting, and it's only a matter of time before it starts falling in the net for me."
Below is the video of Portland and Seattle supporters in action, and some of the pre-match festivities.
- Seattle Sounders FC 2013 Season Review: A Tale of Two Seasons
- Seattle Sounders FC 1 - 2 Portland Timbers Post Game Reactions (VIDEO)
- Seattle Sounders FC 2 - 0 Colorado Rapids: Seattle Press Conferences Video/Audio
- Sounders Playoff Bound, Now What?
- Post-Match Reactions: Colorado Rapids 5 - 1 Seattle Sounders FC