Seattle’s Roller Coaster Season Continues
Supporting Seattle Sounders FC this season has been a carnival ride of emotion for this fan, with an impressive 7 wins under our belt and now 3 dramatic ties and 3 crushing losses holding us back from over-confidence and the top ranking in the west. The last four games have seen us drag our record down with a L-T-L-T, the first of which was an almost embarrassingly bad defeat at the hands of Real Salt Lake. We recovered enough to earn a tie on the road in Vancouver only to come home to another loss at the hands of the visiting Columbus Crew, followed by a close tie Saturday against Chivas. I was fortunate enough to attend the three games played in the Northwest and tried to make sure my voice was heard loud and proud by our squad, giving my all whether we lost tied or lost.
Right off the bat in that first loss, RSL knew they had to keep our offense down and within the first three minutes of that game had kicked down both Mauro Rosales and Eddie Johnson, ensuring their team had the stronger legs for the rest of the match. The “Lakers” got their lone ugly goal out of the way at just 5 minutes into the second half, starting what looked like a clearly offside pass to my eyes. Play on the field seemed to stop so I tend to think the other players agreed with me, but Fabian Espindola kept on going and pushed the ball into the goal yards away from Bryan Meredith, ending the rookie goalkeeper’s scoreless streak. You can imagine our gloomy feelings after that match, with many fans walking away frustrated and angry at our second loss at home for the season.
Much like a Seattle summer, we didn’t let those dark clouds hang over us for too long – several hundred other Supporters and I joined their various groups in a caravan north as we took our love on the road for the first match of the Cascadia Cup and our first visit to Vancouver, BC for the season. A beautiful warm sunny day greeted us as we piled into BC Place — a gorgeous stadium if you ever get the chance to visit, the Whitecaps fans have it almost as good as we do — early to watch the Bayern vs. Chelsea game on the 2nd largest TV screen in North America. The game we watched on television ended up foreshadowing the play that would follow on the grass below, as Chelsea tied the score in the final minutes of that match much like we would do with Fredy Montero’s 90th minute goal, bringing us a lone point to bring home to Seattle.
The first half of the match looked like we would be in for a repeat of Salt Lake, with Vancouver putting an impressive score in the back of the net after only 12 minutes. Vancouver kept their lead to the half until a regrouped and energized Sounders took the field for the second 45 and put on a much better show. A quick header from Eddie Johnson put us back in the game, and we held the tie until Vancouver took the lead again at the 86th minute. You could see the joy on the face of Martin Rennie, new head coach for Vancouver, as the clock ticked down and the 2-1 score stayed on the Board. That joy disappeared as we kept our chants loud and are scarves up and in the 90th minute a long boot from Bryan Meredith gave the ball to Montero and he floated one of his magic rainbow shaped kicks right into the top corner of the goal, not even giving Joe Cannon a chance to get near a save. Satisfied with a tie game, we left the stadium with our heads held high and received a few good-natured ribbings from Whitecaps fans on the way back to the train station.
This was my first time on the road supporting the team, and I have to say the experience was fantastic and definitely energizing to my Sounders spirit. I intend to see every game that Seattle will play in the Cascadia Cup this season, so I was glad to have a chance to visit the comparatively tame Canada before going to Portland and facing the Timbers and their Army in June.
Last Wednesday morning found me waking up with butterflies in my stomach over the match we would play that night against Columbus Crew. Michael Gspurning had been confirmed the night before as not starting, so we were putting a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of the young Mr. Meredith again after he’d already allowed 3 goals in less than two weeks time. Reaching CenturyLink field early enough to see the starting XI – my heart sank when Mauro Rosales was not among the starting lineup shown on the big screens. Anticipating that we would be seeing the fab-foursome of Johnson, Montero, Rosales and the newly returned Alvaro (Flaco) Fernandez – the fans were immediately on edge knowing that Rosales would be watching the game from the bench. The next 90 minutes would feature an amazing 21 shots on goal from the Sounders, absolutely NONE of which ended up in the goal. It’s almost unfathomable to think that the Sounders retained possession for 60% of the match, and could not connect a goal. Huge credit there to Columbus’ Andy Gruenebaum as he put in a worthy performance, stopping every shot our guys brought to him. David Estrada shouldered much of the work for Seattle, making the ball available to Fredy and Flaco frequently, but ultimately it was fruitless and Head Coach Sigi Schmid’s former team took home the win, their first against the Sounders. One bright side to the game was that I got to meet fellow gay4soccer.com contributer Grant (@ducki98444) and spend the final moments cheering our hearts out together and sharing grief in the defeat.
Sadly I was not able to be on the road for this most recent game as the guys in rave green headed down to Los Angeles to face off against the spry and eager Chivas FC. Usually the underdog in LA soccer, this season has seen the “goats” grow into a formidable squad, further invigorated by the trade with NY that brought Juan Agudelo to the team and gave them their only goal against the Sounders on Saturday night. The game was full of sloppy play by both sides, and none of the power we are used to seeing from Fredy Montero or Eddie Johnson was there – only a goal from David Estrada kept our lossless road record intact.
Much love goes out to my fellow Emerald City Supporters and Gorilla FC members that made the trip to California, and to all the other dedicated Supporter groups around the country for every team, out there that made the away trips to follow their clubs this weekend.