Sounders FC Year Two: Closing Fast on the Elite
A remarkable turnaround, a sensational surge into the postseason. Attendance records smashed and another trophy hoisted.
It was a very good year for the Seattle Sounders FC, and there’s every reason to believe 2011 will be only better.
Sounders FC completed its second season earlier this week, falling to the L.A. Galaxy, 2-1, in the second leg of their MLS Western Conference Semifinal series and 3-1 on aggregate. Still, the Rave Green seems poised to take another stride forward toward becoming an MLS Cup champion and regional power.
Over the course of playing 44 competitive matches, Seattle developed into a deeper, more mature and more resilient side. While there is still a ways to go, certainly Sounders FC proved that its sensational first season was no fluke and that it is fast closing on the continent’s best clubs.
In 2010 Sounders FC won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup for a second time, becoming the first team in 27 years to repeat as champion. It earned a second straight postseason berth, won 14 games during the MLS regular season-two more than the inaugural campaign-and has lost fewer matches in the first two years than any club in the league’s 15-year existence.
None of the achievements came easily. The team was shaken by the loss of several key players due to injuries. There was a disappointing start to the season and a demanding schedule as a consequence of its Open Cup run combined with the initial venture into the CONCACAF Champions League. No club in the region flew more miles and no team in MLS played more matches.
Just as the team’s successes multiplied, so did its supporters population. Seattle shattered its own MLS season attendance record, averaging 36,173 fans at its home matches and running its streak of consecutive sellouts to 32 straight MLS matches on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field. The home crowd of 31,311 for the Open Cup Final was by far the largest in the tournament’s 97-year history.
Upcoming Key Dates (times are Pacific & subject to change)
Sunday, November 21, 5:30 p.m. – MLS Cup 2010, BMO Field, Toronto
Monday, November 22 – Expansion Draft Protected Lists Submitted
Wednesday, November 24, 11 a.m. – Expansion Draft
Thursday, December 2, 7 a.m. – FIFA Announces hosts for 2018 and 2022 World Cups
Friday, December 17- Sunday, December 19 – Sounders FC College Combine, Las Vegas
Sounders FC Fast Facts
— Sounders FC finished with a mark of 19-14-8 in all competitions, 14-10-6 in MLS regular season (6th overall) and had the third best road record (6-6-3)
— Seattle finished with the best record (10-2-3) during the second half of the regular season, winning a club record (and MLS season high) five in a row overall and going unbeaten (5-0-2) in the final seven at home
— The Rave Green became the first repeat champion of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in 27 years and broke the 97-year-old tournament’s single game attendance record with 31,311 for the final, a 2-1 win over Columbus
— Sounders FC shattered its own MLS regular season attendance record, averaging 36,173. It averaged 30,943 in 2009. There have been 32 consecutive sellouts for MLS matches
— Two new Designated Players-Swiss forward Blaise Nkufo and Uruguayan midfielder Alvaro Fernandez-arrived following their action in the World Cup. Nkufo scored the first hat trick in club history and a Fernandez goal sent the Rave Green through to the group stage of the Champions League
— Fredy Montero repeated as the club’s Gold Boot winner, finishing with 10 goals and 10 assists (12 and 11, respectively, in all competitions). He was one of two players to rank among MLS top ten in both goals and assists and was chosen July Player of the Month
— Steve Zakuani more than doubled his rookie season total with 10 goals and added six assists
— Nate Jaqua was named the U.S. Open Cup player of the tournament and finished as the joint scoring leader with five goals
— James Riley was named the team’s Humanitarian of the Year and the MLS W.O.R.K.S. October Humanitarian of the Month. Sanna Nyassi was the April Humanitarian of the Month
— Seattle sustained the fewest (17) losses in the first two seasons of any club in the 15-year existence of MLS
— Goalkeeper and captain Kasey Keller has played in 59 consecutive (and 63 of 64 overall) MLS regular season and playoff matches, dating to April 25, 2009
— The defense posted more shutouts (11) than 2009 and allowed only 12 goals in the final 15 games
Give Us Your Full 90 Again in 2011!
Sounders FC are currently accepting deposits for 2011 season tickets. To join, please visit SoundersFC.com or call 877-MLS-GOAL. Seattle’s schedule will include matches with MLS newcomers Portland and Vancouver, plus an international friendly against a soon-to-be-announced opponent. Sounders FC had 32,000 season ticket holders in 2010.
Vote Now for MLS Goal of the Year
Fan voting is now open for the 2010 AT&T Goal of the Year and NAPA Auto Parts Save of the Year awards. The deadline for voting is Thursday at 8:59 p.m. PT.
Sounders FC has nine finalists for Goal of the Year-the most of any team. Steve Zakuani (two nominations), Fredy Montero (two also), Blaise Nkufo, Leo Gonzalez, Roger Levesque, Alvaro Fernandez and James Riley are all nominated by virtue of winning Goal of the Week awards.
Kasey Keller has five nominations for Save of the Year.
This year, fans of participating wireless carriers may also vote for the AT&T Goal of the Year by texting GOAL to 22442 from their mobile device to watch the nominees and select their favorite. The 2010 AT&T Goal of the Year and NAPA Auto Parts Save of the Year will be announced on November 17.
To vote online for the 2010 AT&T Goal of the Year, please visit:
To vote online for the 2010 NAPA Auto Parts Save of the Year, please visit:
Sounders FC Turns Three
Saturday marks the third anniversary of Sounders FC joining MLS. The November 13, 2007 announcement was made on the 75th floor of the Columbia Center.
The Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps FC, the newest members of MLS in 2011, will each select 10 players in the expansion draft on November 24. All teams must submit their protected list by November 22. The MLS SuperDraft is scheduled for January 13 in Baltimore.
World Cup 2022: Join the Bid
There is still time to join Seattle’s bid to host FIFA World Cup games in 2022. The Emerald City has been identified as an official host city by the USA Bid Committee and will be included in the formal bid book presented to FIFA on December 1 in Zurich. On the following day, December 2, FIFA will announce the host nations for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Over 1.1 million people have signed up online to support the U.S. bid (www.gousabid.com), including more than 46,000 backing Seattle as a site to host matches.
The other 17 cities selected by the USA Bid Committee are, in alphabetical order: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, Tampa and Washington, D.C.
Seattle’s resiliency and determination was put to the test throughout much of its second season, but in the end the Rave Green shined. After allowing nine goals in three straight losses to end the first half of the season, Sounders FC sat 11th overall in the table. Further, it was missing three starters and a fourth was just on his way back.
Nevertheless, Seattle battled its way back into contention and did so with momentum generated in its U.S. Open Cup run. A youth movement in midfield and a reshuffled central defense provided a platform for success. Sounders FC went undefeated in nine straight matches over all competitions, reaching the semifinals of the Open Cup, the group stage of the Champions League and the .500 plateau in MLS after the 4-8-3 start.
Fredy Montero shouldered much of the scoring load, scoring a goal or an assist in nine consecutive matches at one point (the longest such stretch in MLS this season). By September the entire attack caught fire, with Blaise Nkufo scoring five goals in a span of three games and wingers Steve Zakuani and Sanna Nyassi combined for five more in the final two months.
No team in MLS traveled more than Seattle, and added to that were four trips to Central America and Mexico in a seven-week period. Still, it persevered, going 5-1-1 in MLS road games.
Among the Leaders
Seattle finished the regular season leading the league in fouls suffered (362) and corner kicks (171). It finished second in assists (44) and seventh in goals (39). Fredy Montero took 91 shots (T-3rd) with 34 on goal (7th). His four game-winning goals is tied for fifth. He committed 44 fouls (T-5th) and suffered 60 (4th). Steve Zakuani and Montero each scored ten goals (T-10th) and had four game-winning assists (T-4th). Montero’s ten assists is tied for fifth. Kasey Keller finished tied for third amongst goalkeepers with 14 wins. Keller’s 11 shutouts is tied-second and he is fifth with 82 saves.
MLS Cup Playoff Bracket
Western Conference Semifinals
Real Salt Lake 1 at FC Dallas 2, October 30
FC Dallas 1 at Real Salt Lake 1, November 6
FC Dallas advanced 3-2 on aggregate
Los Angeles Galaxy 1 at Seattle Sounders FC 0, October 31
Seattle Sounders FC 1 at Los Angeles Galaxy 2, November 7
Los Angeles advanced 3-1 on aggregate
Western Conference Final
FC Dallas at Los Angeles Galaxy, Sunday, November 14, 6 p.m. PT (ESPN)
Eastern Conference Semifinals
Columbus Crew 0 at Colorado Rapids 1, October 28
Colorado Rapids 1 at Columbus Crew 2, November 6
Colorado advanced on penalties, 5-4, after finishing 2-2 on aggregate
New York Red Bulls 1 at San Jose Earthquakes 0, October 30
San Jose Earthquakes 3 at New York Red Bulls 1, November 4
San Jose advanced 3-2 on aggregate
Eastern Conference Final
San Jose Earthquakes at Colorado Rapids, Saturday, November 13, 6:30 p.m. PT (Fox Soccer)
Last Match Recap: Sounders FC 1, L.A. Galaxy 2 – November 7, 2010 – The Home Depot Center
David Beckham assisted on a pair of set-piece goals as the Galaxy won the second leg of the Western Conference Semifinal to sweep the series and finish ahead, 3-1, on aggregate goals.
Seattle entered the match trailing 1-0 after dropping the first leg at home on October 31 but Steve Zakuani’s late strike was not enough to overcome first-half goals by Edson Buddle and Omar Gonzalez.
Buddle scored the game’s first goal in the 19th minute. Beckham swung a corner kick into the box where Buddle’s header from 8 yards beat Kasey Keller to the far post.
Beckham again supplied the service on the Galaxy’s second goal as he sent a free kick into the box from the left side in the 27th minute. Gonzalez made a near post run and nodded a diving header past Keller.
After threatening numerous times in the second half, Seattle scored in the 86th minute when Nate Jaqua cut the ball between two Galaxy defenders in the box and Zakuani blasted a left-footed shot past Donovan Ricketts.
Zakuani became the first Sounders FC player to score in postseason play. He has scored in each of the three matches against the Galaxy at the HDC.
Sounders FC had several opportunities to add another late tally. Just minutes after the goal, Tyrone Marshall flicked an Alvaro Fernandez corner kick to the far post but Jaqua’s sliding attempt missed wide. Osvaldo Alonso struck a low shot from outside the box in the 93rd minute but it also slid just wide of the post.
Seattle held a 13-9 advantage in shots (4-4 on goal) and the sides were even on corner kicks at five. Earlier in the half, Zakuani got free in the box but his shot in the 67th minute was stopped by an onrushing Ricketts and Fredy Montero’s drive in the 73rd minute was deflected wide of the far corner.
Keller made two saves, including a stop on a header from Gonzalez in the 6th minute and a save on Mike Magee’s low try five minutes later.
Sounders FC remains winless (0-3-1) in four playoff matches, including a scoreless draw and a 1-0 extra time loss to the Houston Dynamo in the 2009 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Seattle was without central defender Jeff Parke (ankle sprain) and was replaced by Marshall on the backline. It was Marshall’s first MLS start since July 4 at Los Angeles.
Academy: Rave Green Visit NorCal
The Sounders FC Academy U16 team heads to northern California this weekend on the bounce of winning three straight, including a pair of home matches last weekend. Meanwhile, the U18 team remained undefeated following a win and a draw at Starfire.
In their Northwest Division opener, the U16s (5-1-0) got a goal and an assist from Ike Crook to beat the San Jose Earthquakes, 2-1. The goals came two minutes apart. Austin Sweeney converted a Crook cross in the 15th minute and Jesse Klug found Crook for what proved to be the game-winner on the next foray downfield. Keenan Townsend made a big save in the 60th minute to preserve the win.
Seattle came from behind with four second-half goals to defeat the Cal Odyssey, 4-1, the following day. Klug’s brace was backed up by goals from Michael Gallagher and Crook, while Connor Adkisson produced a big save and then assisted on Klug’s second tally with a long punt. Klug now has four goals.
The U18s (3-0-3) were held scoreless for the first time in four matches by San Jose, settling for a 0-0 draw. Despite playing a man down for most of the match, Sounders FC finished with a 22-7 advantage in shots. Still, it was a penalty kick save by Ryan Herman in the 80th minute that enabled the Rave Green to earn the point.
Sean Okoli scored a goal and an assist the next afternoon in a 3-nil win over the Cal Odyssey. Brandon Brockway and Darwin Jones scored in the 33rd and 35th minutes. Nick Palodichuk assisted on the first and Okoli’s insurance goal (his fifth of the season) just before full time.
The Sounders FC Academy teams face the De Anza Force in Cupertino on Saturday and the Santa Cruz Breakers on Sunday. They each host Crossfire Premier on November 20.
Seattle will conclude the 2010 portion of the schedule at the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Winter Showcase, December 4, 5 and 7 in Phoenix. Sounders FC will face South Carolina United, Virginia Rush and Lonestar SC.
Sounders FC Roster
The following players are currently training with Sounders FC: Goalkeepers (3): Terry Boss, Kevin Guppy+, Kasey Keller; Defenders (10): Taylor Graham, Leo Gonzalez, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Patrick Ianni, Tyrone Marshall, Jeff Parke, James Riley, Zach Scott, Tyson Wahl, Jamel Wallace*. Midfielders (8): Osvaldo Alonso, David Estrada, Brad Evans, Alvaro Fernandez, Sanna Nyassi, Michael Seamon, Nathan Sturgis, Peter Vagenas; Forwards (9): Mike Fucito, Blaise Nkufo, Nate Jaqua, Roger Levesque, Miguel Montano, Fredy Montero, Pat Noonan, Ty Perdido*, Steve Zakuani.
*invitee; +MLS emergency goalkeeper
Upcoming birthdays: Osvaldo Alonso turns 25 on Thursday, November 11; Tyrone Marshall will be 36 on Friday, November 12; and Leo Gonzalez celebrates his 30th on November 21…Kasey Keller was the only player to appear in all 30 regular season matches. Fredy Montero and Steve Zakuani led the outfield players with 29 appearances. Altogether, Keller and Montero each saw action in 39 competitive games. James Riley played the most outfield minutes altogether (3180)…Sigi Schmid’s lead in career playoff wins is being threatened by Galaxy boss Bruce Arena. Schmid has won 19 postseason matches while Arena has 18 wins…Tyrone Marshall will enter the 2011 season just six appearances short of the exclusive 300 club. Marshall is 15th in all-time regular season games played (294), and 9th amongst active players. He is currently 24th in postseason appearances with 24…There are four Sounders members among the top 40 active players in total points. Pat Noonan is 17th with 115 points, followed by Nate Jaqua (18th/109), Fredy Montero (37th/61) and Peter Vagenas (40th/55)…Seattle’s Fado Irish Pub is again among the finalists for U.S. Soccer Best Soccer Bar. Fado won the honor for 2009. Online voting began this week at ussoccer.com…A complete list of 2010 stats is available at www.SoundersFC.com/Team/Stats/2010-Statistics.aspx.