Celebrating Cascadia with videos

26 06 2012

The loyalty of Sounders FC fans is a beautiful thing. They turn out game after game, season after season, the love for their boys undying.

Yet I wonder how many of them are content with early-round playoff exits. With U.S. Open Cups — nice, but not the ultimate prize. With frustrating losses every now and then to teams the club should beat.

I’m long removed from the day-to-day news and observing of the club. Three playoff appearances in the first three years of existence is impressive — a lot of teams would take that in a heartbeat. But I sense that Sounders fans expect more, demand more. And they should.

I do think the Sounders beat themselves, aside from a defense that has not played well of late. That Fredy Montero was sent off in the Portland game was confounding. Your best striker pushing off  — even if the Timbers’ David Horst flopped — and costing himself and his team with a suspension, at a time when the Sounders need to get back on the winning track. The Sounders have to do a better job of managing their emotions through this recent winless streak.

There were some needless, senseless fouls from both teams, Portland and Seattle. But my sense is that the Timbers, with less talent, were fine with turning the game into a physical tussle. The Sounders aren’t that kind of team overall, and really never have been.

Having said all that, Sounders fans, you still have a playoff team. The organization has made some fantastic calls with player personnel. There’s a ton of depth and Adrian Hanauer, Chris Henderson and Sigi Schmid reload with fresh talent each year. Some of that talent is guys who might not have gotten their chance as rookies or younger players — they have had to learn to be patient and wait their turn.

It’s a testament to the club that they are able to stockpile developing players. Seattle is an ultimate soccer destination for any professional player, it’s hard to leave once you get there. Ask Mike Fucito, Lamar Neagle, Sebastien Le Toux and James Riley.

Enough opinion. Let’s watch some videos.

Here’s a rainy night in Portland (Timbers-Whitecaps) last month.

Here is the Southsiders supporters group in song in Portland. What a season so far for Vancouver, congrats to them.

Speaking of Vancouver, these are SHARP.

Whitecaps third kits (new)

 

 

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Cascadia soccer and more – looking back on Arizona training

7 02 2012

Shouts out to all the people back in the Northwest, happy to maintain that soccer connection with you. I’ve been doing a lot of work for MLSSoccer.com of late covering preseason training. It’s all on the site.

Living in Arizona sometimes has its benefits as a soccer journalist and fan. This state gets annual MLS preseason training in Phoenix, Tucson and the biggest town between the two, Casa Grande.

I’ve been extremely busy with work but I have managed to see three matches — New England-FC Tucson, Real Salt Lake intrasquad and Sounders-Whitecaps, with a DC United-Sporting Kansas City matchup planned for this Saturday.

Since I’m more familiar with the Sounders and Whitecaps, I’ll say this about Vancouver: It stockpiled some guys that on paper can be major contributors, but that remains to seen. The ‘Caps need some center midfield help and are giving a long look at two new defenders, as that facet of the game was a big problem in 2011.

From Monday’s starting lineup, I was surprised not to see Jordan Harvey, who I think is a solid choice, in that group at left back, but that could change.

Also strange to see Davide Chiumiento not working with the first team. But that shows the depth the Whitecaps appear to have at the offensive positions. Still, they’ve got to find someone to distribute the ball and connect passes and it may or may not be John Thorrington. The ‘Caps have lot of attack-minded forward types — Seba Le Toux (great to catch up with him BTW), Atiba Harris, Camilo Sanvezzo, Omar Salgado — but seem to be lacking in center mid.

Honestly I thought Vancouver’s starting group in Monday’s scrimmage played better overall than Seattle’s. The Sounders missed some passes, didn’t possess the ball well for long stretches and Vancouver looked more active and attacking. The Sounders did pick it up with their first group eventually, as Adam Johansson served a ball well to Jhon Kennedy Hurtado in the 44th minute that Hurtado just missed hitting with his head toward the goal.

In the 37th minute, Roger Levesque got a head on a ball that just missed wide.

The Sounders clearly have a ton of depth, though, as seen in how the second group started the second 45 minutes of the match even though coach Sigi Schmid thought their effort and energy faded as the half progressed.

Schmid said the Whitecaps were motivated to play hard from the outset for their new coach, Martin Rennie, and that the Sounders didn’t have a scouting report, they just went out and played against whomever was on the field.

Schmid is going to have some hard decisions to make as to whom to keep on the roster.

Cordell Cato, a 19-year-old forward-wing from Trinidad, has impressed in the two times I’ve seen him play for Seattle. David Estrada and Servando Carrasco could push for more playing time after good showings Monday.

Johansson looks like a more than suitable new right back for the Sounders, very good at chasing the ball and distributing from the back to the attackers.

The officiating was bad. Those guys let the game become too physical with all of the hard tackles and fouls. At least the intensity is there on the part of both teams early in their preseasons.

Let’s move on to some visuals… stay with me and click to the next page.

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Writers write, and I did a lot of it this week

17 09 2011

Can’t stress the title of this post enough. If writing is what you do and what you like, you do it as often as you can. So I write during a lot of whatever spare time I find when not editing or teaching.

Allow me to share with you a look back on my week of writing.

On Monday it was Arizona State football. QB Brock Osweiler is fantastic with the media. Read about his roommate on the road in this early preview of the ASU-Illinois game. 

Wednesday, my short story about Vancouver Whitecaps defender Jordan Harvey appeared on Soccer by Ives. He looks exactly like former Portland Trailblazers center Joel Przybilla. Here’s what Joel looks like:

Thursday I got kind of fired up about the Dodgers-Diamondbacks, Clayton Kershaw-Gerardo Parra flap. So I took this view for SB Nation Arizona. 

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My MLS All-Star picks

9 07 2011

The fan votes for the MLS All-Star starting XI are in and the players will be announced on Sunday during the Portland-Seattle match on ESPN.

photo courtesy of MLS website

No matter how you look at it or whom you think should be an All-Star or not, it will be a solid collection of players going up against Manchester United on July 27 at Red Bull Arena.

Since we’re just a few days from an All-Star Game in baseball, and if you want to see who I picked before the actual team is announced, I offer you my choices. And I invite you to submit to me yours as well.

Using a 3-5-2 format, here is my MLS All-Star team:

Forwards: Thierry Henry, Charlie Davies

Midfielders: Brek Shea, Joel Lindpere, Brad Davis, Jack Jewsbury, Graham Zusi 

Defenders: Jamison Olave, Carlos Valdes, Omar Gonzalez

Goalkeeper: Nick Rimando
Just for kicks, here’s the way my second team would look:
Forwards: Danny Mwanga, Andres Mendoza
Midfielders: Mauro Rosales, Davide Chiumiento, David Beckham, Daniel Hernandez, Marco Pappa
Defenders: Julius James, Drew Moor, George John
GK 2: Kasey Keller 
Yeah I know, no Landon Donovan on either side. He’ll be voted onto the team anyway I figure. I based my voting on the players and teams I’ve seen the most this season and while Donovan is having a great season, so are the Galaxy and I have one of their players on the first team.




The Vancouver Whitecaps’ opening game, and other things that made me smile

21 03 2011

It’s finally an off-day from baseball work today and it has been a good day. Reasons why:

1. I made it through a tough workout after a week of being really sick.

2. State tax refund came through.

3. The guy who cut my hair lived in Gresham, Ore., and he loved it up there as much as I do.

4. It’s raining outside in Phoenix and it’s nice to see.

5. I finally got to see the Whitecaps’ opener and was reminded of that night in Seattle when the Sounders opened. What an atmosphere.

I’m not sure anyone outside of those who are around the team a great deal really knew what to expect Saturday. For starters, Empire Field shined in the sun and those wide shots of the stadium with the forested mountains in the background were beautiful. It’s a great city, and that natural setting is something you can’t find in a lot of places.

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Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, in photos

21 02 2011

The rain from the last couple of days was gone and it was a lovely morning for soccer at ASU’s soccer stadium this morning.

The Galaxy, minus David Beckham but including Juan Pablo Angel and Landon Donovan (it’s still funny to say “LandyCakes”) defeated the Whitecaps 2-0. I wrote it up here.

Photos below:

Landon Donovan

Shea Salinas (VAN), Donovan (LA)

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Writing every day (and taking a few photos)

17 02 2011

The stories keep piling up and I want to share them in one place so I will do it here.

In the last couple of days, I’ve had four pieces published – two on baseball and two on soccer. From yesterday, a story about Seattle Mariners catcher Miguel Olivo.

Today, a story about 22-year-old pitcher Michael Pineda. Both Olivo and Pineda are Dominican; I interviewed them in Spanish. The Olivo interview was good, Pineda (in photo below) not so good.

In what little spare time I’ve had, I’ve cranked out soccer stories on Omar Salgado from the Vancouver Whitecaps and Steve Zakuani from the Seattle Sounders.

Here’s Salgado…

And here is Zakuani…

Here’s a couple of more photos from Mariners camp today (Thursday)…

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