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When Football Collides with Football…

November 12th, 2013 · No Comments

In his typical sardonic fashion, Sounders FC “Football” coach Sigi Schmid recently stated the obvious by dryly pointing out that at least the Ref’ (Referee) wouldn’t have any trouble marking off the ten yards for any free kick penalties; Hooah!

As this was in response to the fact that the “Rave Green,” aka Seattle Sounders Football Club would be forced to play their opening Semi-finals Playoff game against noted arch rival Portland Timbers at ‘Der Clink (Century Link Field) with the pitch adorned in Seattle Seahawks National Football League markings due to the Hawks v Buccaneers home game the following afternoon - as there would simply not be enough time to stripe the field following the Sounders Football match, where the following day the Hawks spotted Tampa Bay 21-points before winning in OT 27-24.

On the opposite side of the ladder, as I’m still confused over how Houston is an East Coast team? Nevertheless, the Houston Dynamo’s, a past nemesis of Seattle’s, as I still recall vividly ex-home grown talent (Gonzaga University) Brian Ching knocking us out of the playoffs in 2009 in a devastating One-Nil’ (1-0) OT victory after having played 180-scoreless minutes, i.e.; two complete games before Ching’s rocket shot in the 96th minute of Game-2 eliminated MLS expansion darlings, the Sounders One-Nil…

Fast forwarding to this year’s Playoffs, Houston advanced to the Eastern Conference Semi-finals with a fine 3-0 defeat over the Montreal Impact which unbeknownst to Mwah, ironically was the team Ching trained with before being traded back to Houston to “Cap” his Major League Soccer career as a Player-coach while announcing his retirement following the 2013 season.

Meanwhile, the once surging Sounders who briefly held the league’s best record in ‘Qwest (Old Seattle Seahawks joke…) of their first Supporters Shield, awarded to the league’s best finishing record team - which was ultimately won by the New York Red Bulls, unfortunately floundered with a late season losing streak which saw the first ever benching of their starting Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning late in the season after allowing a massive nine goals scored upon him, seeing Sigi put backup keeper Marcus Hahnemann in the net instead.

the (No. 4-seed) Sounders then hosted the (No. 5-seed) Colorado Rapids in a single elimination match at Century Link Field which saw Gspurning return to his starting role as Goalkeeper before inexplicably getting Red carded in the matches 85th minute upon catching the ball outside of his Goalbox, forcing the Rave Green to play a man down the final five minutes en route to a Two-Nil (2-0) victory over the Rapids, advancing to the “Round of Eight,” aka the Conference Semi-finals and as previously stated would next compete against the Western Division’s top seeded (No. 1) Portland Timbers.

These two MLS Franchises have a long storied rival history, along with the Vancouver Whitecaps who form the “Triangle of Death” according to Sounders FC minority owner Drew “The Price’s Right” Carrey - not to mention all three teams affiliation with the original North American Soccer League. (NASL) and their natural Pacific Northwest rivalry formed the basis for what is known as the Cascadia Cup, awarded to the team with the best record against each other season-wise.

And much was made over the fact that you needed to go all the way back to 1975 for the clubs first playoffs matchup, which the Timbers were victorious 2-1 in a stunning overtime victory in Portland - whilst with the aforementioned Red card awarded to Gspurning, thus 41yr old Seattle native Marcus Hahnemann was pressed into service for the first leg of the two game aggregate Semi’s, opening on Seattle’s home turf, which saw Hahnemann making his first MLS Playoff appearance since having lost 2-1 to DC United in the MLS Cup championship in 1997.

And a massive throng of raucous Seattle fans were in in attendance, albeit slightly less than the record 67,385 attending for a previous regular season game at ‘Der Clink between the two Pacific Northwest rivals, whilst Portland’s supporters were forced into the upper tier of the sold-out Century Link Field, where an appalling hush ascended the stadium upon Portland’s first score just some 15-minutes into the match.

Seattle then fell even further behind when the Timbers scored a second goal to cause a further pall over the stunned crowd early in the second half - in the game’s 67th minute, as the Two-Nil score naturally caused Seattle to begin blitzing the Timbers goal the remainder of the second half in desperation of evening the score.

And while the Sounders had had chances, including Clint Dempsey launching two rocket shots from far away - both just missing their intended target, Seattle could only take solace in Osvaldo Alonso chopping Portland’s lead goal-wise to just one when scoring in the game’s 90th minute, while Dempsey headed a shot just wide in the waning moments of stoppage time, hence Seattle would be forced to play catch-up ball on Portland’s home pitch in hopes of advancing further into the MLS playoffs, as Seattle finally ended its massive 540-minute scoreless streak during the playoffs.

Yet, once again it wasn’t to be, as Portland treated their devoted Timbers Army of fans to sheer glee, as the two sides played to a scoreless match until the 29th minute when Sounders FC player Djimi Traoré, an ex-Liverpool Champions League winner inexplicably hand balled inside the box to set up Portland’s first goal scored upon a penalty kick.

And from there it was all downhill, as Portland scored again in the 43rd minute of the first half to make the score Two-Nil, meaning Seattle would need to score three goals in the second half while shutting Portland out just to force overtime; Aye Karumba! But all I could do was sing ‘Ol Dandy Don’s signature Tagline: “Turn Out the Lights, the Party’s Over!” When Seattle was caught flat footed and allowed a third goal to be scored just moments into the second half, as actually I’d crooned Don Meredith’s catchy tune during the second half intermission - when I turned the radio back on, since I’d decided to watch the first half on TV since it was our old Play-by-Play announcer Arlo white doing the commenting. As Seattle eventually went down in flames, losing 3-2 in Portland and by a total aggregate of 5-3.

Interestingly, all of the other three Semi’s went into extra time, seeing the various opponents victorious, ‘Capping come from behind wins to advance to their respective Division Finals. As those pesky Dynamo’s traveled to New York to knock off the leagues number one seed Red Bulls Superstars including Thierry Henry with an aggregate score of 4-3, having been behind at home Two-Nil in the first half before drawing level with a 2-2 draw. Then falling behind on goals 3-2 before defeating the defending Supporter’s Shield champs.

Likewise for both Kansas City and Salt Lake, as Sporting KC knocked off the New England Revolution in extra time while Real Salt Lake did the deed against two time reigning MLS Cup champions LA Galaxy with a fine second leg defeat in OT on its home pitch, having trailed LA One-Nil after its first leg loss in Los Angeles…

thus with the Sounders out of contention, having acquired English Premiere League Star Clint Dempsey to make a long playoff run this year, naturally I’ll have to stomach the defeat and now root for those upstart Timbers, who’ll take on Salt Lake, while I’m hoping for Brian ching’s sake that Houston will knock off Kansas City, giving him one last MLS Cup appearance…

Tags: soccer · Misc · NFL Football

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