Major League Soccer (MLS)

A Fare-Thee-Well and Welcome (MLS Expansion Draft Mix)

Jalil Anibaba will play next season with Orlando City SC. Oh, wait, no he won’t. Make that Sporting KC.

Let us just turn to Jacob Sweeny-Samuelson of Sounder at Heart:

Sounders FC, Orlando City SC, and Sporting KC, of MLS.In the MLS Expansion Draft today, Orlando City SC used their third choice of available players to snag Anibaba from the Sounders.

In response, the Sounders added Zach Scott to the protected list. Though many doubted that Scott would be picked in this draft, the Sounders clearly didn’t want to risk losing two center back options from the roster.

The Sounders made it through the rest of the draft unscathed ....

.... It looks like Anibaba may remain in the Western Conference after all. Sporting KC reporter Sam McDowell reports that Anibaba has immediately been traded to Kansas City as part of a deal to ship Aurelien Collin to Orlando ....

First: Thank you, Jalil, and good luck in Kansas City. We’ll be seeing you again, soon.

Also: Good luck to OCSC, and also NYCFC. Welcome to the show; we look forward to greeting your colors with rave green.

Virtually Cool

Clint Dempsey of Sounders FC is depicted in FIFA 15 for Xbox.

Shane Evans notes the interesting statistics surrounding the many video game lives of Sounders FC:

If you’re a soccer fan, chances are you enjoy playing a little FIFA 15 as well. If you’re a soccer fan in the USA, chances are (according to EA Sports) you’re playing FIFA 15 with the Sounders FC.

In a post on EASports.com, the Sounders FC was named as the most used MLS club in the USA with over 1.9 million matches played since the game was released on September 23. That’s a lot of FIFA right there.

He’s got a point. Then again, for an article about something seemingly so trivial, there isn’t a sentence that isn’t impressive.

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Evans, Shane. “FIFA 15 players in the United States really love using the Sounders FC”. SoundersFC.com. 25 November 2014.

A Raving Smirk

Sometimes there is a good reason to dwell on the past, and that reason is generally to smirk at the future. Well, okay, it feels good. But sometimes smirking amounts to asking for trouble.

Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid. (Photo: Ted S. Warren/AP)After what Seattle Sounders FC majority owner Joe Roth called a “horrible” end to the 2013 season, he faced a decision: fire coach Sigi Schmid, or fire some players.

“It was close,” Roth said. “I called Sigi down to Los Angeles with (general manager Adrian Hanauer). It was after we won one of the last 10 games, (survived) the play-in game and lost to Portland. I was upset. And we sat for a couple of hours. And I sat there and I thought, ‘You know, I could fire this guy, who I think is one of the two best coaches in the league. But he’s won the championship in LA and Columbus. So I’ve either got to fire him or fire the players.’ So I fired the players — because obviously they just weren’t jelling.”

This season, the new combination jelled. The Sounders won their fourth U.S. Open Cup, their first Supporters’ Shield and on Sunday will begin the Western Conference finals series at Los Angeles in hopes of advancing to their first MLS Cup.

As Don Ruiz notes for The News Tribune, Sounders FC failed to reach the MLS Cup final in their first five seasons. Sunday, however, brings the first leg of their two-game Western Conference Final aggregate against L.A. Galaxy, who Sounders FC just defeated a few weeks ago in order to capture their first Supporters’ Shield. The first task will be to hold LAG to zero goals; all else follows.

Well, okay, not all. SFC still have to score at least a goal, preferably in Los Angeles, and then everything else can follow. The whole thing about road goals is puzzling to Americans who don’t follow fútbol, but the maxim still generally holds: Offense wins games; defense wins championships.

Whatever. The bottom line is to get your smirk on. Sounders FC face L.A. Galaxy Sunday, 23 November, at StubHub Center in Carson, California. Along with the second leg, a week later in Seattle, these will be Landon Donovan’s last matches in MLS.

Rally up, Rave Green. There will be no swan song for the American legend.

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Ruiz, Don. “Sounders owner glad he kept coach, fired players”. The News Tribune. 17 November 2014.

Some Thoughts on a National Disgrace

Players for the Mexican and Jamaican women's teams present themselves before a nearly empty house at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., prior to the CONCACAF group stagte fimale on 21 October 2014.  Final score: Mexico 3-1 Jamaica.  The Mexican team advances to face the U.S. Women's National Team in the 2014 CWC semifinals.

You know how we always hear about various pro sports teams struggling with their salary cap? And the persistent question of how much is too much, and whether any pro athlete is really worth that many millions of dollars a season?

SeattleReignFC-logo-bwHere’s a real salary cap for you: $30,000 per season.

For the record, that’s not a minimum salary. That’s a maximum salary for the National Women’s Soccer League.

While KUOW gives an August report from Arwen Nicks and Marcie Sillman a happy title, “Seattle Taking Notice Of Reigning Women’s Team”, it’s also a bit deceptive. Seattle took greater notice of S2, the new Sounders FC third-league team intended for their reserves to get playing time.

It should be noted that aside from playing their games at Starfire, the Seattle women’s professional soccer team is entirely unrelated to Sounders FC. Rather, they are Seattle Reign FC, a name apparently held over from the former ABL squad.

While SRFC is blessed with powerful talent, it is almost a prerequisite for any kind of success; unless a player is on a national team, her salary is capped at thirty thousand dollars per season, creating a situation in which the lucky players without a national team roster spot get to play in the championship game, go home, and either pay rent the next morning or move.

As any sports fan in general can tell you, this is no way to run a premiere league. Then again, considering the history of, say, English football clubs, we’ll have to see what the NWSL becomes over the course of the next century.

Meanwhile, this miserable state of things is accentuated by a soccer match that had nothing to do with SRFC or the U.S. Women’s National Team except for the fact that the winner will meet Hope Solo, Sydney Leroux, and Megan Rapinoe (all of SRFC) and their USWNT teammates in the semifinal round.

Not that you care, but I just saw Donna-Kay Henry of Jamaica score one of the best soccer goals I've seen in ages. (John G. White Jr., 21 October 2014)Mexico topped Jamaica in a CONCACAF contest at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., earlier tonight. The final was 3-1, though Joseph White of Associated Press tweeted during the game, “Not that you care, but I just saw Donna-Kay Henry of Jamaica score one of the best soccer goals I’ve seen in ages.”

And, yeah, as goals go, it was a sweet one.

This was the end of CONCACAF group play; Mexico will meet the U.S. in the semis. And, true, the weather only made the game that much tougher, but White’s recap for USA Today should probably be praised for not making a point of the absolute embarrassment this game has caused should cause Americans.

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