Sounder at Heart Archives for January 2012

Major Link Soccer: MLS Cup, Hope (for no more news) Solo, Idiot Fans

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The final is upon us, and with it the MLS career of Sir Beckham. But another Galaxy midfielder is pushing really hard to make sure his "retirement" is just as important. I'm sure Landon Donovan doesn't like the idea of his last hurrah getting passed over, but that is one of the few consequences of playing on such a star-studed lineup.

Salary Cap Realities Harsh For Seattle Sounders

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It was only a third of the way into the press conference, but the most poignant statement of Sigi Schmid's was his answer to the question "Do you want Fredy Montero back?" Sigi's response was simple. "I want all my players back." Of course that was after 21 minutes of he and Adrian Hanauer explaining how that will not be possible.

Patrick Ianni Wins MLS Goal of the Year

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How does a defender win Goal of the Year? Pretty simple, he just does the amazing against the Keeper of the Year, the Defender of the Year and the third best Defender of the Year. Patrick Ianni did just that. How many different ways do you want to watch the amazing?

How 'bout three total?

Ianni beat out Montero, Nagbe and Nguyen.

Alex Morgan scores hat trick vs. Ireland

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Former Sounders Women forward Alex Morgan scored her second career hat trick in a friendly against Ireland on Wednesday.

Wilmer Crisanto on Sounders Radar

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Reports out of Honduras are that another Honduran Olympian may be joining the Sounders. A Seattle rep will be visiting his current team shortly according to local media.

According to Honduran daily Diez Wilmer Crisanto is again linked to the Seattle Sounders. Currently with Victoria, a team in need of money, Crisanto was also on the Honduras Olympic team with Mario Martinez and other MLS players.

Wilmer Cristanto Tells Honduran Radio Transfer To Sounders Close

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After Wilmer Crisanto went on Honduran radio program Football First, La Tibuna reported some of the statements of the right back. Per google translate he sees the upcoming semifinal match as one of the most important in his life. The story are also suggests that Sounders Assistant Coach and Scout Kurt Schmid will be the one traveling to offer final judgement.

MLS Retirement Watch

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I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

-- The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (T.S. Eliot)

Age isn't the only reason players retire. Many retire because they learn that they just aren't skilled enough to play professionally.

Sounder at Heart Awards Voting - Defensive Player of the Year

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Something that we decided to do back when the idea of the virtual Sounder at Heart awards came about was to break the MVP-ish awards into attacking and defending categories. Too often in soccer awards a strong defensive midfielder goes unrecognized as an MVP candidate. What this means is that Osvaldo Alonso won the Defensive Player of Year twice and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado once.

Michael Gspurning finishes third in MLS Newcomer and Goalkeeper of the Year awards

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Michael Gspurning may have had one of the best statistical seasons in MLS history, but voters in the MLS awards were apparently unswayed. Gspurning finished third in both the Goalkeeper and Newcomer of the year voting, well behind winners Jimmy Nielsen and Federico Higuain.

That Gspurning didn't win either award was not necessarily a huge shock.

Battle for Seattle: Is market big enough for two women's teams?

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If you thought the decision on which ownership group would be granted entry into the latest attempt at a women's pro soccer league would settle anything, think again. I've spent the last few days talking to various parties involved with the new Seattle pro women's team, the Sounders Women, Seattle Sounders FC and U.

Wilmer Crisanto on Sounders Radar

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According to Honduran daily Diez Wilmer Crisanto is again linked to the Seattle Sounders. Currently with Victoria, a team in need of money, Crisanto was also on the Honduras Olympic team with Mario Martinez and other MLS players.

Victoria is in the Apertura semi-finals facing Motagua this weekend and there are indications that a Sounders technical staffer will be visiting the team around that time.

Eddie Johnson Wins Second Comeback Player of Year

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When Eddie Johnson came to the Seattle Sounders it was with a simple goal in mind - prove the naysayers wrong. He did that and more. His 2012 season was not just decent, but special. Today, his return to his previous highs in Major League Soccer were recognized by his winning of his second Comeback Player of the Year award.

What Is The Core?

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In the transition from 2011 to 2012 the Seattle Sounders lost about a third of their roster. A vast majority of those moving on were fringe players with a couple supplementary types. Only by the most liberal definition of core did they lose two members of that group. A certain Keller was definitely a Core player and maybe Friberg or Riley.

New Seattle women's team still weighing name options

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The new Seattle women's pro soccer team has not yet announced a name, and it would appear there are still several options being considered. Sounder at Heart has learned that Seattle Reign FC and, simply, Seattle FC are at least two of the possible names being considered. Domains with both of those names are registered to Bill Predmore, who is the owner of the Seattle franchise in the still unnamed professional league.

Potential HomeGrown Player Signings

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There are a ton of questions about the HomeGrown Player (HGP) Rule. Most can be answered at the MLSSoccer.com Rules and Regulations page, but there are a few specifics that deserve additional attention.

Clubs may sign up to two Homegrown Players contracts above the minimum salary and similar to Generation adidas player contract amounts.

Osvaldo Alonso Makes Best XI

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In most years Major League Soccer's Best XI ignores defensive minded midfielder. Last year, with five mids named to the XI, none were recognized. This year Osvaldo Alonso makes the Best XI. While the Honey Badger may not care, it seems right and just that MLS recognizes the utility of the role and Alonso's success at it.

Major Link Soccer: Former Sounders, Donovan quitting?, Agudelo to worse league

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It was a weekend so long it takes two editions of Major Link Soccer to catch you up on what's been happening around the league and American soccer. First, take a moment and go read the MajLinkSoc that went up while you were in a food coma and/or shopping. Then return here and read about some former Sounders, LA losing another DP and more.

Tumultuous year could pave way for big changes

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Let's face it: It was not nearly as fun to be a fan of the Seattle Sounders in 2013 as it has in previous years. To a degree, that was inevitable.

This being the fourth year of their MLS existence, expectations have clearly changed. Maybe the first three years spoiled us with U.S. Open Cup titles and playoff appearances, but we wanted more.

Two Sounders among MLS Goal of the Year finalists

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Fredy Montero's blast against the LA Galaxy and Patrick Ianni's sideways volley against Sporting KC both among MLS Goal of the Year finalists.

Another Season Of High Minutes Played

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The amount of minutes and miles the Seattle Sounders collect in a specific season is always impressive. Even with the unbalanced schedule they still traveled more than any other team for competitive matches (hello two CCL cycles). They also played the most matches of any team in the league at 49. This week's MLS Cup Final features the team in second (LA Galaxy) and fourth (Houston Dynamo).

ESPN's Teaser For MLS Cup - This is MLS Cup, This is soccer

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With MLS Cup a week away ESPN's teaser for the contest is out.

Sounder at Heart Awards Voting - Offensive Player of the Year

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While the 2012 Seattle Sounders scored fewer goals than the 2011 version the forwards were still pouring in goals with the assists coming from the same right winger who won the last Offensive Player of the Year. The award vote should be rather tight. The typical debate about "value" and the sheer number of goals and assists piled up could cause one to pick any of the three nominees.

Searching for the Free - Winter 12/13

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Searching for the Free is a semi-regular look at players who would be available on a Free within the next two transfer windows. Without a master list of Frees available around the world speculation is really up to fans, as it is doubtful that agents are going to let the general public know when their clients are available.

Major Link Soccer: Beckham vs the Sirens

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We're on a delayed schedule this week, so apologies to anyone freaking out over the last twelve hours due to an absence of links posts. It's okay, I don't like broken routines either.

Certainly few of us are interested in revisiting last Sunday's "event", the weather at which may have played an indirect role in the late post today.

About the Defense

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The three League leaders in Goal Difference this MLS regular season past were San Jose at +29, the Seattle Sounders at +18, and Sporting KC at +15. In San Jose's case, they virtually lapped the field in terms of goal scoring, being the only MLS club to average more than 2 goals per game and enjoyed a huge gap of 13 more goals than the next highest scoring L.

VIDEO: Levy Films' footage from U.S. Open Cup loss

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Here's yet another teaser from what is shaping up to be a rather epic film about the Seattle Sounders' season from Levy Films.

Making sense of Seattle's role in new pro women's soccer league

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There will be a Seattle franchise in the still unnamed pro women's soccer league. It will not be the Sounders Women. That much we know. Of course, that makes it seem far more simple and straightforward than it really is. Although most of the details are still unknown, and likely undecided, we will do our best to help you make sense of what is happening and what to expect.

November Youth Update

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Because there's only one Sounder on Campus still playing (more on that in a bit), I'm going to sweep the regular Campus update into a larger post about the general Sounders-related youth soccer goings on, including the Academy teams and US youth international teams.

Zips Advance, Deacons and Huskies Not So Much

After a close first round home win over Air Force, the Washington Huskies advanced to an away match against 12th seed Creighton, the previous coaching stop for Jamie Clark (no relation).

Happy Thanksgiving

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And now for something to help you on this day of overeating. A chart to tell you how much exercise you'll need to do.

New Seattle Pro Women's Team In New Women's Pro League

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Seattle is one of the eight cities to launch the United States third attempt at professional women's soccer. The other cities are Portland (run by Timbers), Kansas City, Chicago, DC, New Jersey, Western New York and Boston . The USSF will fund 24 players from the USWNT while the CSA will fund another 16 players from within their pool.

Sounders Women won't be part of new professional league

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The Sounders Women will be back in 2013, but it won't be as part of the new women's professional soccer league. A year after playing to sold out crowds and sporting a team with players like Hope Solo and Alex Morgan, the Sounders Women will return to the USL's W-League and play their games at Starfire Sports Complex.

Seattle gets team in new women's pro league, but not Sounders Women

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U.S. Soccer has chosen a group led by Bill Predmore's group to be their Seattle team, instead of the group that owns the Sounders Women.

The Sounders Women will be back in 2013, but it won't be as part of the new women's professional soccer league. A year after playing to sold out crowds and sporting a team with players like Hope Solo and Alex Morgan, the Sounders Women will return to the USL's W-League and play their games at Starfire Sports Complex.

Zach Scott: Man Marker, The Header of Goals (Animated)

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Sounder at Heart's own Dave Clark mirrored this Zach Scott goal in his "Moments of 2012" awards post and will stand out as one of the top goals and moments of the season for me as well. We all are well aware of the story of the Western Conference Finals and how we arrived at the moment needing three goals just to stay alive.

Nos Audietis, Episode 77: Talking LA Galaxy with Taylor Twellman

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This definitely was not the show we wanted to be doing this week. Rather than talking about the most glorious comeback in MLS history, we're left contemplating what went wrong. To help us sort through that mess, we asked ESPN color commentator Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman) to join us on the show.

Sounder at Heart Awards Voting - Moment of 2012

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In the past three seasons the "Moment of the Year" was something related to the US Open Cup. It helps that the major trophy was won in each of those seasons. This year the voting here at Sounder at Heart will be a little bit tighter as there were no trophies - major or minor. Presented in no particular order are the nine moments that are up for this virtual award.

Pragmatism Is Boring - Sounders, Do Something Special

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As we reflect on another end to a Sounder's MLS season, I have found myself pretty caught up on the fact that this offseason might be significantly pivotal. This belief stems from the fact that from where I sit this will be winter break in which Things Must Change.

The conventional wisdom indicates that it is far better to make a change a year too early rather than a year too late (for a prime local sports example refer to the departure of Matt Hasselbeck from the Seattle Seahawks).

Big questions facing the Sounders this offseason

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Where do we go from here? I really hate asking a question in the lede (really, it's a Writing 101 no-no), but that's really the overarching question that will define this offseason.

A year ago, we were in a very similar situation. Looking at the difference in the roster from then to now shows how much changed, but how little as well.

Sounders vs. Galaxy, Leg 2: Highlights, stats, quotes, photos

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Sounders only have themselves to blame for being in a position where one call could ruin their season.

Sounders FC vs. LA Galaxy, 2012 MLS Cup Playoffs: Gallery

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View this gallery here.

Sounders v Galaxy Western Finals Leg Two: What's left to discuss

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The Sounders had a huge hole to climb out of and they nearly managed to do it. They'll now spend the offseason figuring out how to never get into that kind of hole again.

The deficit must be paid. It will either be paid through the labors of the Seattle Sounders players as they mount a comeback for the ages or it will be paid by fans tears as they watch the LA Galaxy advance to the MLS Cup Final on December 1st.

Sounders Win, Lose, Draw - All in same game

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The Seattle Sounders won the game and lost the series. It seems like 2011 repeating itself, except that in 2011 there was the highlight of winning the US Open Cup and winning in Mexico. Still, this second leg of the Western Conference Final was a well played match, the kind of match that if the Sounders repeated a couple dozen times a year there would be no doubts about their quality.

Sounders v Galaxy Western Finals Leg Two - Gamethread

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The deficit must be paid. It will either be paid through the labors of the Seattle Sounders players as they mount a comeback for the ages or it will be paid by fans tears as they watch the LA Galaxy advance to the MLS Cup Final on December 1st.

To get there the Sounders will need to play the match of their lives.

Sounders U18s Write Sounders FC Victory Script

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If Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero need a lesson in how to dominate a team from California it was given this morning when the Seattle Sounders Academy U18s crushed Cal Odyssy 7-2. It is the type of performance that the senior team needs to put on tonight.

It started with a Duncan McCormick goal off a Henry Wingo pass, but it was the forwards that did Odyssy in.

Cry Havoc and Let Slip the Dogs of War

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The time for timidity is gone. Gone with the loss at Santos Laguna. Gone with the loss at LiveStrong Sporting Park in the USOC Championship. Gone with the debacle of last Sunday's 3-0 loss to LA in Carson, CA. The 2012 Seattle Sounders have one and only one opportunity to redefine how history will remember their season.

Sounders Path To Victory Over LA Galaxy

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The Seattle Sounders need to win by four goals on Sunday night. In August against the Galaxy they scored four goals. In 2011, needing four goals against Salt Lake the Sounders put up an impressive 26 attempts to score. Can we learn anything from those two matches about how the Rave Green should play?

The Hollywood Ending

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You may have noticed a little thing that the @sounderatheart Twitter feed and Facebook page was doing earlier this week. Whether it was Mass Effect, Star Trek, Firefly, Princess Bride, or LOTR, Sounders fans have called upon memories of Hollywood classics as a sort of inspiration. It is a good exercise.

Injury Update: Neither Rosales, Gonzalez 100%; Martinez Available

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Entering leg two against the LA Galaxy there are still doubts about the health of Seattle Sounders FC. Neither assist leader Mauro Rosales, nor shutdown left back Leo Gonzalez are 100% according to Sigi Schmid. Already limited due to the Marc Burch suspension the lineup questions start to get complex.

Major Link Soccer: Owwwwwwwwwwwwwww Edition

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So, yeah. Our boys have a mountain to climb. There's not much to say about it. Our forwards need to ignore their last few months of intellectualism, our defenders need to erase the previous week from their memory backs, and our midfielders need to make a handful of nice, threatening forward passes.

Watching the NCAA Tournament Soccer

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Over the next few weeks the champion of Men's D1 soccer will be crowned. During that time fans of MLS teams, as well as scouts, will get to watch a plethora of matches as the field of 48 is whittled down to just one. Tournament play started today as unseeded teams attempt to qualify the 2012 powers.

Sounders v LA Galaxy Western Finals Leg Two - Making History Or Becoming It

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There's a kind of sadness to getting crushed in leg one, in that you can not just forget about it. This is not a series ala the NBA, MLB or NHL where the total score matters not. Every single goal in that drubbing will stick with Sounders fans and buoy Galaxy fans.

Going down three-nil in leg one sucks.

Video: Sounders remind us they've 'done it before'

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In case you've started to think a 4-0 win was hopeless, the Sounders remind us that you don't have to look too far back to remember the last time they beat the Galaxy by that score.

Sounders on Campus: Tourney Time

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The regular season and conference tournaments are complete and now all that's left is the NCAA tournament. And there's also the matter of conference awards, where the Sounders did very well for themselves.

In the Bracket

#1 Akron

Deandre Yedlin and the Zips earned 2-0 wins in the MAC tournament semifinals and final to earn their 9th MAC championship and retain their national #1 ranking.

Michael Gspurning, Eddie Johnson Amongst MLS Awards Finalists

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Michael Gspurning finds his name listed among the final three for both the Goalkeeper of the Year and for Newcomer of the Year. Eddie Johnson is listed as a potential winner for Comeback Player of the Year. The Best XI does not have a short list and will be the first time a Seattle Sounders player could find their name listed as one of 2012's best.

Jalen Markey Gets U18 Call Again

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The roster for the week of United States U-18 players is loaded with Academy talent. A full 21 of the 24 come through the USSDA. The Seattle Sounders loan rep is Jalen Markey who is in his second call up this Fall for the youth nationals. His last call was for a trip to the Netherlands.

Markey only has a handful of appearances with the Seattle Sounders U18 this year, but if his performance against the Vancouver Whitecaps (basically a semi-pro side) are any indication he should get more as time passes.

Sounders v LA Galaxy Western Finals Leg Two - Two More Questions

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Going down three-nil in leg one sucks. It drew tears out of my eyes as Two More Questions was composed (maybe not). If allowed Josie of LAGConfidential to gloat (she didn't). In this round the focus is on moving forward, but on moving forward with that last result influencing how the match will be played.

Dying on the Cross

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Here Lies Speedonthewings b. 2009 - d. 2011

Through the short history of the Seattle Sounders in MLS, they have had two offensive strategies: 1) rely on Fredy Montero's magic and 2) something else. Montero is a wizard on the ball, has one of the best shots in the league - both in the box and from distance - and can be deadly on free kicks.

Sounders Will Find Motivation In Their Past

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Often the Seattle Sounders players and coaches will talk about how they need the proper mentality in their approach to games. Coming back from so far down will be a challenge. Every player and coach I talked to after practice today made that clear.

Brad Evans had the simplest answer to how he'll find motivation.

More than 40,000 tickets sold for Sunday's game, more sections opening

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Win or lose a record crowd will be on hand Sunday to see the Seattle Sounders attempt to claw their way out of a 3-0 aggregate-goal hole in the second leg of the Western Conference finals against the LA Galaxy. Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer told Nos Audietis that more than 40,000 tickets had already been sold for the game, which would make it the highest attended non-MLS Cup final in playoff history.

Nos Audietis, Episode 76: Featuring Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer

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It was a week of extreme emotions. It started off in spectacular fashion when the Seattle Sounders broke their playoff curse by beating Real Salt Lake 1-0 in the second leg of the Western Conference semifinals.

Before that really had much time to sink in, the Sounders were playing the LA Galaxy in the first leg of the Western Conference finals on about two days of rest.

Sounders Tactics Responsible For Loss Not Talent Differences

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It was not just a three-nil loss. It was an experimental lineup with several players in new or slightly adjusted roles that worked towards different goals than the Seattle Sounders FC often use. There were some things that worked. In fact Sigi's goal of winning the central third worked. But there are a few reasons that strategy would not and did not win.

Mario Martinez Again Called To Honduras National Team

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FIFA regulations require a club to release a called player and so Mario Martinez will not be training with the Seattle Sounders FC while he is with Honduras. The match is on November 14th and he will return to Seattle on Thursday after the match. If Martinez appears it will be his 22nd cap with the the senior team.

LA Galaxy vs. Seattle Sounders: Highlights, stats and quotes

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The Sounders made a gamble with their tactical approach and it blew up in their face.

Sounders at Galaxy Leg One Western Conference Finals - Gamethread

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LA Galaxy is primarily a counter-attacking side with a certain dead ball specialist that makes its set-pieces impressive. Seattle's flank-play-dominant team will be a bit weakened due to injuries and suspension. Again the Seattle Sounders will look to a different route to attack. With both central midfields crowded defensively (both use a CDM with a deep lying mid as their standard) the path may be to count on individual greatness.

Sounders Fall To Galaxy 3-Nil; Find Out That Injuries and Suspension Matter

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After knocking off monkeys the Seattle Sounders FC decided that one playoff series win was enough. That may be a bit harsh. Against the team to which they can be measured the Sounders failed in the playoffs again, for the fourth time. in this case the deficit may be too big to mount a come back.

Robbie Keane, Sean Franklin (right back or right wing?

Houston DC United Game Thread: The Appetizer

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Hopes for an MLS Cup final in Seattle are still alive, but they rely on the Dynamo beating DC United. Fortunately for those hopes, United will be without Andy Najar and starting keeper Bill Hamid, who are both suspended.

So sit back and work through that queasy feeling of rooting for Houston.

LA Galaxy vs. Sounders, 2012 MLS Playoffs: Seattle's lineup depth tested again

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Mauro Rosales is still hobbled. Leo Gonzalez is likely unavailable. Marc Burch is suspended. These are just three of the key players that are almost certainly going to be missing from the Seattle Sounders' starting lineup for the first leg of the Western Conference finals on Sunday.

It could be even worse, too.

Sounders at Galaxy Western Conference Finals Leg One - Three Questions

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Seattle Sounders FC pushed past one of their key rivals, one which they've now played 14 times. Their next step is another trophy rival, the LA Galaxy. In MLS play Seattle is 3-4-2 0 GD against LA. In other competitions (Open Cup and Playoffs) the total is 2-2-0 +2 GD. Eleven times they've met and the edge is slightly to LA with the Playoffs being what pushes them over the line.

Sounders at Galaxy Western Conference Finals Leg One

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Beat LA. It is a simple phrase. One first familiar here in Seattle due to the Sonics and Lakers rivalry. Here it also harbors a bit of the provincialism displayed during the 80s and "California Invasion." LA is one of Seattle's dragons. A rival not based on locale, but on success over the local side.

Marc Burch suspended three games, fined for using gay slur

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In an apparent effort to both remain consistent and show seriousness for the league's publicly stated stance, MLS Commissioner Don Garber suspended Marc Burch three games, fined him an undisclosed amount and mandated he attend additional sensitivity training after the Seattle Sounders left back was caught by TV cameras using a gay slur during Thursday's game.

Injury Update: Rosales, Gonzalez Day-to-Day | No Word From League On Burch

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With less rest for the Seattle Sounders in between the semis and the Western Conference Finals than the LA Galaxy injury concerns are a bit more significant for the Rave Green. Today, the update on Mauro Rosales indicated that he is almost certainly going to be back for Leg Two on the 18th.

"In terms of the health situation, Rosales is certainly better and still holding out some hope there.

Weight of Sounders' past playoff failures has been lifted

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A collective weight seems to have been lifted off the Seattle Sounders' shoulders.

Over the first three years of their MLS existence, the Sounders had started to be defined almost as much by their playoff failures as by their successes elsewhere.

The win over Real Salt Lake changes that narrative, possibly forever.

Pushing Pace Against LA Galaxy

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The LA Galaxy are an old team. There three stars make it readily apparent - Beckham, Keane and Donovan. They will be playing their 5th in 14 days. A simple look at the upcoming Western Conference Final Leg One would be that the younger Seattle Sounders should push the pace of play.

This is only partially true.

TRAILER: 'American Football' - A documentary about the Seattle Sounders by LEVYFilms

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We've heard rumblings before, but with this six-minute trailer it appears LevyFilms is getting close to releasing their Seattle Sounders documentary. Audio is NSFW.

Marc Burch issues apology for his use of gay slur

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Taking full responsibility for his actions, Marc Burch has issued a statement apologizing for his use of a gay slur during the Seattle Sounders' win over Real Salt Lake on Thursday. The incident happened late in the match, apparently after he felt a RSL player had gone to ground too easily inside the penalty area.

VIDEO: Mario Martinez's goal through lens of LevyFilms

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You've seen Mario Martinez's wonder-goal, but you haven't seen it like this.

Real Salt Lake vs. Sounders: Highlights, stats and quotes

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The stats suggest the Sounders were outplayed, but there's no way they're too worried about that right now.

VIDEO: Sounders celebrate first-ever playoff series win by singing Jingle Bells

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As they usually do following road victories, the Sounders celebrated their win over Real Salt Lake by singing their version of 'Jingle Bells.'

Major Link Soccer: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO EDITION!

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It only takes one goal. In a battle of two defensive-minded teams, just one shot has to make it's way into the back of the net. Such was the result on an historic Thursday night as the Seattle Sounders finally punched their ticket to the Western Conference Finals.

Oh, who am I kidding. I can't stay straight faced on this.

Sounders notebook: Home leg would be Nov. 18, Gspurning gets green card

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Just in case you need a bit of a distraction on this day of judgement for everything that the Seattle Sounders have done over the past four seasons, we wanted to put together a bit of a news roundup as some stuff actually happened.

The most relevant is that the LA Galaxy have announced the dates for the Western Conference finals.

Sounders at Real Salt Lake Western Conference Semis Leg Two - Gamethread

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One of these teams gets to break the other's will and end their opposition's 2012 on a sour note. Neither met their non-league goals. RSL was trounced from the Open Cup by an NASL side, even though they'd bought the hosting rights. They flopped out of the CCL group stage. Seattle struggled with Santos, was edged in PKs in the Open Cup Final, but did advance to the next CCL knockout round.

Seattle Sounders Advance In MLS Cup Playoffs After Edging Real Salt Lake 1-nil

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It was not a monkey, it was a dragon that breathed diamonds and the finely placed shot of Mario Martinez put the Seattle Sounders past the beasts that haunted them for three years. Martinez shot from the left flank was set-up by a strong Brad Evans run and a well placed pseudo-cross by Fredy Montero.

Seattle Sounders Advance In MLS Cup Playoffs After Edging Real Salt Lake 1-nil

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In another tight contest between the two sides the Sounders moved on after beating Salt Lake 1-nil at Rio Tinto Stadium in Utah.

It was not a monkey, it was a dragon that breathed diamonds and the finely placed shot of Mario Martinez put the Seattle Sounders past the beasts that haunted them for three years.

Mario Martinez Volleys Home Winner

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Watch Mario Martinez slot home the goal that pushed Seattle Sounders FC to lands it has yet to reach.

Mario Martinez dances the most important dance in Sounders MLS history and also scores a goal. (Animated)

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Real Salt Lake and Seattle Sounders FC were seemingly waiting for the other one to flinch in the second leg of their Western Conference semi-final. As the old cliche goes, it was going to take something extraordinary to break the deadlock. And that's just what we got in the form of Sounders FC's Mario Martinez.

Sounders, RSL both have health concerns heading into Leg 2

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Mauro Rosales will at least travel to Real Salt Lake. Whether or not he'll be able to play, though, is still unknown.

Seattle Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid sounded hopeful when asked about Rosales' availability, but also said that it was pretty much a game-time decision when I asked him about it following Wednesday's training session that immediately preceded the team boarding their flight.

Power of Tanzania

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Are you schooled in the Power of Tanzania? Surely you have seen the ads on the walls at the north end of CenturyLink Field? The ones like in the picture above? Well, let me remind you: Seattle teams have gone a combined 17-3-2 at CenturyLink since the Tanzania ads were installed.

The Seahawks are undefeated, including two preseason victories and crazy last-minute comebacks against Green Bay and New England.

Playoff Struggles, Mentallity and Historical Success

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Does that sound absurd? Yes. Is this what people are directly saying? No.

In the past I've pointed out the success of the Sounders in the US Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League. These have been laughed off as mere auxiliary tournaments; that wins there have no relationship to the mental strength needed in the MLS Cup Playoffs.

Sounders at Real Salt Lake Western Conference Semis Leg Two - Two More Questions

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The match again is picked up by NBC Sports who will carry the KONG feed nationally. Those outside of Seattle, but within the greater Northwest will also be able to watch the game on Root Sports. Both the Seattle Sounders FC and Real Salt Lake have some injury concerns. For Seattle Mauro Rosales is day-to-day but not listed on the injury report while RSL have questions with two starters and a couple bench players.

Sounders at Real Salt Lake Western Conference Semis Leg Two

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Thursday night's fifth and final meeting between the Sounders and RSL will be the only one that either side will remember. No matter the positives and negatives of the past contests (Seattle is 0-1-3 -1GD) it will be Leg Two of the MLS Cup Western Conference Semifinals that lives in history.

The match again is picked up by NBC Sports who will carry the KONG feed nationally.

Nos Audietis, Episode 75: Let's talk about MLS Cup Playoffs

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It's playoff time everybody, so our subject is a tad on the predictable side. We do our best to give a new take on the Leg 1, while also giving our impression of how we think Leg 2 is going to go. It's probably not surprising that Jeremiah is a bit more enthusiastic about the Sounders' chances than Aaron is.

Proactive Or Reactive Tactics - Time for Plan B

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In any matter of tactics (military, chess, sports, etc) there are two basic coaching theories. One is a proactive mindset that looks to establish the pattern of action in the way most conducive to the identity of the coach's side. It is the tactic of strength. The other is more reactive; it looks for weaknesses in the other and exploits weaknesses.

Eddie Johnson says he's ready, but Mauro Rosales now uncertain

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Just as Eddie Johnson was declared fit to at least play in Thursday's Western Conference semifinal, doubt was cast onto the availability of Mauro Rosales.

One step forward, one step back. That seems to be the status of the Seattle Sounders' health these days.

If we're looking for nuggets of positivity, it would be tied up in the idea that the Sounders are probably slightly better equipped to deal without Rosales than they are without Johnson right now.

Sounders on Campus: On To the Post-Season

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But for those in the Pac-12, which doesn't have a conference tournament, all of the Sounders on campus are either preparing for tournament play or have completed their season on a team that didn't do enough to make the postseason.

#2 Akron - DeAndre Yedlin (D)
3-0-0 since last update

Three games and three shutouts for the Zips, which means Akron keeper David Meves has 52 in his career, which breaks the NCAA record previously set by a guy you may have heard of named Josh Ford in his career at Connecticut.

Gspurning shows us a sliding, goal-saving side of Cerebus. (Animated)

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As many times that Real Salt Lake's Nick Rimando came up with a big save to keep the score at 0-0, Seattle Sounders FC's Michael Gspurning surely matched him at the other end of the pitch. Rimando was surely the overall man of the match with a goalkeeper performance for the ages, but since we are Sounder at Heart and I am a homer - the animated gif of choice is of The Cerebus.

There Will Be No Viewing Party - This Is A Test

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When the Sounders travel to Sandy, Utah in an attempt to win their first ever MLS Cup Playoff series they will do so in front of hundreds of traveling fans and supporters. The Seattle Sounders will also do it in front of tens of thousands of eyeballs.

They will be doing it in front of Sounder at Heart readers' eyeballs too, but not in a large group.

Conference Semifinal Game Thread

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Two matches today as the Houston Dynamo kick off their series with Sporting KC and later San Jose faces Los Angeles. Houston remains the only team that would travel to Seattle for an MLS Cup, so we should be hoping they get something done at home before traveling to Kansas at midweek to finish the series.

Sounders found much success attacking RSL from flanks

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All scoreless ties are not created equal. If you're looking for a positive out of the Seattle Sounders' 0-0 tie with Real Salt Lake on Friday, that's it.

Anyone watching the game could probably see that Sigi Schmid wasn't just pay lip service to the idea that the Sounders created chances. It's the quality of those chances is what should really provide hope that this is the year the Sounders break their playoff drought.

Sounders vs. Real Salt Lake: Highlights, stats and quotes

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The Sounders were forced to settle for their third 0-0 tie with Real Salt Lake this season and will now have to go on the road in an attempt to win their first playoff series.

Sounders v Real Salt Lake Leg One: Picking up the pieces

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The Sounders were forced to settle for a tie at home and now need to win their first ever road playoff game in order to advance.

Playoffs. Quite simply they are about winning and losing. The numbers can only say so much (they say that the teams are evenly matched over a four year stretch), but as Sigi Schmid has made clear this week a single moment can change any game and particularly the MLS Cup Playoffs.

Sounders FC vs. Real Salt Lake: Photo Gallery

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View this gallery here.

Sounders v Real Salt Lake Leg One - Gamethread

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Playoffs. Quite simply they are about winning and losing. The numbers can only say so much (they say that the teams are evenly matched over a four year stretch), but as Sigi Schmid has made clear this week a single moment can change any game and particularly the MLS Cup Playoffs. For the Seattle Sounders that moment may need to come early.

Quick Fingers of Nick Rimando Earn a Draw

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The Seattle Sounders pushed Real Salt Lake to the brink Friday night, but will head to Utah needing goals after a 0-0 draw. Several great chances, many of which came from Sammy Ochoa shots, were thwarted by RSL goalkeeper and Seattle nemesis Nick Rimando. Rimando had one of the best games of his career, barely tipping away strong shot after diabolical header, and nearly single-handedly kept his club from losing by a similar margin to what Salt Lake posted on Seattle last year.

Forget The Numbers: A View On The Conference Semifinals

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Like many of Sounder at Heart's readers, I've attended each of the last three season's home playoff matches only to leave disappointed that the Sounders didn't do better.

In 2009 I could chock these feelings up to the unrealistic expectations set after one of the better expansion seasons in the history of the league.

Major Link Soccer: Do-or-Wait-Until-Next-Year Edition

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Anybody who has been around the Sounders boat knows what the stakes are now. Win, and we move on. Lose, and we go home (again.) Two playoff berths have been cut short already, as the Chicago Fire and Vancouver Whitecaps find themselves suddenly without games to train for. Many sleepless nights await players of both teams, as they wonder what they could have done differently to last for just two more weeks.

VIDEO: The making of '(Tonight We Go) All In'

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It was easily one of the more impressive Tifos we've ever seen and even moved Sounders coach Sigi Schmid to tears. Here's a look at what went into making that impressive display.

CenturyLink Field To Have Seahawks Logos, Not Football Lines

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In a decision that was admittedly a compromise between the NFL and MLS portions of the combined organization the Seattle Sounders will have Seahawks logos at midfield and in the space where an endzone would be. There will be no hashmarks or yard markings. Depending on weather there may or may not be the NFL wide sideline markings.

VIDEO: NBC cranks out another awesome MLS video

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Not to buy too deeply into the hype machine, but gotta say NBC has done well with their MLS preview videos. Of course, plenty of Sounders featured.

Knockout Round Open Thread

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Here's a thread for those games featuring the poor schmoes who have to play a midweek game to prove they belong in the playoffs.

Tonight Chicago takes on Houston on ESPN2. Houston is the only team that Seattle would host the MLS Cup Final against, so go Dynamo I guess!