Wednesday, March 13, 2013

"Hmmm... This guy played in England. I wonder what he can do."

Disclaimer: the author is in a bit of a state of euphoria: Sounders just made a helluva triumphant second half come-back and are going to the CCL semi-finals. (Furthermore, author is also a Barcelona fan, who earlier made a *cough cough* similar -albeit far superior- come-back victory, also in a Champions League elimination game. Author is very happy).

Euphoria aside, author would like to stake the claim that Djimi Traore's volley was The Best Goal in Sounders FC History.

There have been other 'very good" goals in SSFC history: Montero had several goals of the week, even goal of the year (runner up? winner?). I also fondly (and sadly) recall O'Brien White's Mauro-fed mystical header a few years back. 

But Traore's was the simply best scored in Sounders FC short history. In good-old American fashion, here's a top ten list why:

10: My thoughts when Traore got the ball: "Hmmm... This guy played in England. I wonder what he can do." Question answered.

9: Technical: it was a phenomenal strike from a long distance. See #6,

8: Momentumal (yes, "momentumal" I get to make up works when I'm drunk and ecstatic): Yedlin's goal got us back in the game, this one showed that we could win it.

7: Yedlin's was also phenomenal, and I dare say second best in history. The fact it came from a rookie starting in his second game, the first goal in his professional career, all make a strong case. Except Traore's was just more powerful.

6: Did I say it was awesome? Every time a Sounder defender (or any defender in MLS for that matter) winds up to make that strike, it's launched twenty yards over the fieldgoals. Someone who can put it in? See my last article about Sounders-level vs Top-Level.

5: This goal had meaning: none of the other contenders for BGISH prize came in a high-stakes elimination game; or at least in not as high of a stakes game. A great goal in league play is... just a great goal. A great goal in play-offs... have we had any of those? All games at not equal, thus neither are goals.

4: Traore stepped up to the plate. Montero didn't. I'm not a Montero hater, but had he scored in playoffs, his legacy might be different.

3: HOLY SHIT A DEFENDER SCORED THAT GOAL!?! Gonzalez had a good strike once, years ago. Hurtado headed a couple in, but see Point #6.

2: Traore (and Yedlin) have made me completely re-assess my pre-season predictions. Hell, I said to kiss CCL goodbye. I LOVE being proven wrong!

1: We signed the right guy. I shuttered when we got rid of Parke and didnt' replace him with someone "as good". Parke could never make that shot. Every time Sounders sign an aging star from the Euro leagues, there's an audible rolling of the eyes. There's a collective worry that we caught the MLS Aging European Syndrome. (Case in point: Silvestre's first half as a Timber). We needed someone to save our league prospects, and in addition we get someone who helps pave the road to a CCL semi-final. 

So, that's my argument. Am I right, or am I write?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Fake Blog of the Day: Shakira is my baby-mama

I'm not Gerard Pique, but if I was, this is what my blog would be about.

What is it like being one of the world's most popular athletes, married to one of the world's hottest I mean, best and most famous singers?

You'd be surprised to learn that our life is quite mundane. We have the same trials and tribulations as any married couple. Trying to find a decent babysitter on a Friday night. Where to spend Christmas this year, Barcelona or Bogota? And of course, the challenges of maintaining the libido of two of the world's most sexiest people.

I'll be planning here to blog about my personal life, but under the pseudonym, "Insatiable Curmugeonry". It'll allow me to share a private side and hopefully you'll see how regular things are with me and Shakiriqui.  First, I have to go to work, today against AC Milan. I tell, what about of fops! These guys certainly care too much about their hair.

Speaking of short cute kids, look how small this team is! They're so cute! I love throwing them u pin the air like I do my own child. Messi has the most delightful giggle mid-air.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Freddy Adu, Part II; The Martins Boogaloo

I've been following the Obafemi Martins drama too much. (It in itself is too much: the sorta trashy soccer gossip that Europe/Mexico/the rest of the world suffers through year around, Now on American shores!)

Last week I wrote an article for Prost Amerika (reprinted here! on IC!) arguing that the Sounders need a top-notch striker in order to compete this year. Obafemi Martins is such a striker. So is Freddy Adu.

(Ok, if Martins is 99% what we need, Adu is 60%: a passing grade, and better than Ochoa (5%) Rosales (17%) and Estrada (24%)).

As the Martins drama winds down (?) we should at least have a Plan B. Plan B is Freddy Adu.

Back in  January I opined that we should pick up Adu- admittedly not a perfect fit, but SSFC would do him good.

Then this morning's article in WaPo nearly broke my heart. It's sort of the opposite of the Martins/Levante ordeal.

For starters he needs a good club with good coaching (Philly was such a mess last year, I feel sorry for the entire squad).  He also has potential, still. Finally he's a fraction of the cost of Martins. Sure, he may be a fraction of the player, but he's got what we need: striking ability.

Someone put these thoughts into Freddy's head: "I can either continue taking the highest bidder (currently he makes $700k, but doesn't play for, Philadelphia), and bounce from club to club, and probably end up in the Kazakhstan or somewhere. Or I can think long-term, like the US National Team, but taking a big pay cut but with a quality coach. Like Sigi Schmid."

SSFC  + Martins = MLS Cup.

SSFC + Adu would still win MLS Cup.

Sounders v.2013: "I (still) have a bad feeling about this"

I’ve been waiting for the dust to settle before opining on Sounders v.2013.
The off-season is nearly over and the dust still hasn’t settled. Rumors keep flying, and Sigi is almost purposefully confusing. Even winning the Desert Diamond Cup with a squad of reserves and trialists doesn’t calm my nerves. It’s like we’re coming out of hyper-drive into an asteroid field, and … what’s that small moon over there?
That’s no small moon, that’s los Tigres de UANL. Except on this occasion the rebels (Traore) won’t rally in time and the Death Star (Tigres) will destroy their secret base on Yavin IV (Champions League).
Why am I so nervous?
Because we started the off-season by off-loading two pillars of our team: Montero and Parke.
Problematic they may have been for different reasons, but they were one of the best forwards and defenders in the league.
Parke’s performance landed him an appearance on the USNMT (granted, the B-squad, and his age will probably keep it at that, but an appearance nonetheless).
Montero –we should hope for reasons of  good karma- will take the next step on what could be a great career: winning the Copa Libertadores with Millonarios, securing his slot on the Colombian national team which loses to the USA in the World Cup Final.
In the hierarchy of MLS soccer, Montero and Parke are both above the norm; they should be replaced with equal or better players.
The Sounders have some excellent MLS-caliber players, but that’s the problem: they are still “MLS-caliber” players.
Over the years, we’ve always managed to augment the roster with higher caliber players.
At a minimum, they had national team experience (Marshall, Gonzalez, Johansson), or played in a league considered top flight (Rosales, Tiffert). In the best cases, they brought World Cup experience (Flaco, Nkufo, Johnson).  Sometimes they came to us with copious amounts of all three (Keller, Ljungberg). Alternatively there were young talents with at least the potential of achieving those goals (Montero, Zakuani, Alonso).
The Sounders have some very good MLS players: Ianni, Estrada, Burch, Rose, Caskey, etc. But it’s these “better than MLS” players that got us into the CONCACAF Champions League and into the MLS playoffs*.
Getting rid of top-quality players (Montero, Parke) and replacing them with “good”, or even ‘very good’ MLS players (Scott, Estrada) is not a recipe for victory, especially against non-MLS teams, like Tigres.
In the middle of writing this, Sounders announced the signing of Djimi Traore. That’s good, but in order to have a successful run at the CONCACAF Champions League, they should have done this by mid-January to familiarize the new players with the team.
And we still need a high-caliber forward. Instead, we get Neagle. I like Neagle. He’s a home-town hero. He’s shown incredible growth since first joining the team, growth augmented by stints in Finland and Canada.
In fact, he’s arguably the best MLS player to have ever played in both Finland AND Canada. But that’s not what we need.
We need a top-class striker.
We have excellent midfielders, but none of them top-class up at top. I opined last month that such a player is Freddy Adu: admittedly not realistic nor perfect, but meets the requirements. I don’t think Sigi got the memo.
You can kiss any dreams of CCL success goodbye.
You can expect the first few months of league play to be rocky, perhaps even with more ties and losses than wins.
Some of the more short-sighted fans will be utterly distraught by June. Hold your breath (again!) that we catch a big fish in the summer transfer window.
But will that be too little too late?
We’ll easily make playoffs, but will miss the Supporter’s Shield by several points.
We’ll lose in the playoffs, probably to LA (the Empire striking back, yet again).
And we’ll finish the season with a big dust storm of fan outrage wondering why we didn’t win it all, hoping for a return of a world-class striker, a Jedi if you will.
Rinse and repeat in 2014.
*If you think the Sounders were going to/should have won either the Supporter’s Shield or the MLS Cup in their first four years, you’re delusional.