Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dissecting the Sounders playoff loss against Los Angeles

“The Sounders fans booed and hissed him. Alonso gave him an earful. But Mark Geiger’s whistle was final.

Neither the ire of 43,000, nor Alonso’s red card could bring back Seattle’s dreams of MLS Cup glory. His whistle was final.

Geiger’s calls were a bitter pill to swallow on Sunday night. The replays show Eddie Johnson was not offside when he scored his 11th minute goal that was called back. At least half of the soccer pundits I’ve heard say that Adam Johansson did not intentionally handle the ball that led to Robbie Keane’s penalty. The call broke the Sounders back. I just want a lesson in how to call a handball.

Despite this, Mark Geiger didn’t make the Sounders lose. They have no one to blame but themselves.”

Read the rest of my analysis of the Sounders playoff loss to the LA Galaxy on the NW Sports Beat.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Designated player math: is the addition > the subtraction?

Alvaro Fernandez traded to Chicago, Christian Tiffert signed

They did it. Just hours before the transfer deadline the Adrian Hanauer has made a bold move. Joshua Mayers from the Seattle Times reports the 2-part move is nearly complete to add Kaiserslautern FC midfielder Christian Tiffert as the teams 6th Designated Player.

Today’s move leaves a bittersweet taste in my mouth. I’m proud to be a supporter of a team willing to risk to improve their team. But, I was an Alvaro Fernandez fan. His technical skill was top-tier for the MLS, when he wasn’t injured. In the end, it may have come down to the fact that the side needed a DP that they could count on every match.

The Tiffert addition isn’t without risk. But, it also has a huge potential upside.

The risks

It’s always dangerous to change out big pieces of your team mid-year. This move does just that.

In the last 4 weeks we’ve begun to see a healthy Sounders roster come alive. During that time period, Alvaro Fernandez has been one of the best performers.

You have to ask now, will that developing chemistry be interrupted?

The other looming question is whether the Seattle attack can accommodate 3 playmakers. Mauro Rosales, Fredy Montero, and Tiffert all like to distribute the ball and act as a conduit for the attack. The team will have to make sure that roles are clear so they aren’t occupying the same space.

The main concern here is whether Tiffert and Montero can coexist. Montero is essentially an attacking midfielder who plays forward and scores goals. Tiffert would typically occupy some of the same space.

My prediction would be that an attacking midfield featuring Tiffert and Montero will work out. Unlike Freddie Ljungberg, who had goal scoring aspirations (not to mention a diva personality), Tiffert has majored on assists during the most successful parts of his career. I suspect he will serve in a similar role as Brad Evans does now. The difference is that Tiffert is a significantly better talent.

The huge potential upside

Tiffert immediately adds talent to the Seattle squad. The team certainly didn’t get worse. If chemistry isn’t an issue, he should help the Sounders mount a playoff run in the near term.

But, I think the real upside of this move will come next year. This could be the beginning of an Adrian Hanauer masterstroke.

Here's how I dream it would work out for 2013:

  1. Mauro Rosales' contract shifts below the league max, removing his DP tag.
  2. Eddie Johnson signs a long-term Designated Player deal.
  3. Steve Zakuani returns to his old marauding self at left mid.
  4. Alonso, Tiffert, and Zakuani form a solid spine up the middle of the park.
  5. Incremental moves are made to shore up the defense.

If Adrian can do these 5 things, we will have a championship team in 2013. And our current squad should be able to make a decent run at it this fall.

I’m with Mr. Hanauer. Damn the risks. The potential upside is too high.

What are your thoughts on the move? Are you optimistic? Concerned? Leave me a note, let’s have a conversation.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

My thoughts on Roger Levesque's retirement

You may or may not know that I cover the Sounders for NW Sports Beat in addition to blogging at 90 Minutes to Glory.

On Friday, I shared my thoughts on the retirement on Roger Levesque over there. Thought you might enjoy reading it.

“In professional sports it’s rare to see someone hang up their jersey and walk off into retirement wearing your team’s colors. Usually players move on to their next club. When you remember them, you have to forget the times they returned to face your team wearing different colors. We don’t have to remember Roger that way, though. He chose to leave the field wearing the Sounders crest. We’ll look back on his time in rave green a decade from now, with nothing but joyful memories.”

Read the rest of my tribute to the great Roger Levesque.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Farewell to a Sounders great: Roger Levesque to retire at 31

Roger Levesque will play his last game next Wednesday against Chelsea. We’ve been watching him on the pitch for 9 years in Seattle. It’s been a pleasure to see his passion every time he played.

It’s been a good ride Roger. Thanks for the memories.

Here’s what Steve Kelley had to say:

“Levesque's soccer career will end next week. His doing-good-for-Seattle career, however, will continue for the rest of his life. He's staying in town, and that's the good news inside the bad news of his retirement.”

Read the rest of Steve Kelley’s article.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sounders fall 2-1 to Timbers

Sunday’s match in Portland saw the Sounders lose a Cascadia Cup match for the 1st time in the MLS era. Unfortunately, it’s a busy work week for me this week, so I won’t have time to write my full analysis until later in the week.

Don't worry though, Dave Clark over at Sounder at Heart has you covered. Here’s a short excerpt from his postmatch analysis and a link to the full article.

“In the third Cascadia Cup match of the year the home side Portland Timbers took advantage of early defensive errors by the Sounders to take a two-nil lead. The Sounders would get a goal in the second half from a beautiful series of step-overs and then a threaded shot from distance by Eddie Johnson. While Seattle created more chances, their defense failed to control early and now the Timbers sit in first on the Cascadia Cup table with 4 points in 2 played. Vancouver is in second with 2 points in 2 played and Seattle in 3rd with a single point also with two played.”

Read the rest of Dave Clark's Cascadia Cup analysis