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Daily coverage of Seattle Sounders FC, MLS and world soccer.

August 13, 2012 at 10:58 AM

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming

Good morning everyone. I am back from my honeymoon after a glorious week in Kauai and ready to get to work.

First off, I’d like to thank Jayda Evans, Jerry Brewer and Steve Kelley for filling in and providing Sounders coverage during my absence. I thought they did a great job.

A brief note, the Sounders have Monday off from training — they return Tuesday — but I’ll still have things to update on the blog throughout the day.

Since returning to Seattle late Sunday night and have been feverishly trying to catch up on what I missed. I will admit to following Twitter during the past two games (U.S. Open Cup updates came in between Mai Tais while at a luau), but you can understand that that’s just a brief snapshot of what was happening.

Here are some brief takeaways, but I’d definitely encourage you to help fill in the gaps:

* * *

— We’ll start in chronological order from when I left and the Sounders got off to a great start in the 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League with a solid 3-1 group-stage win at home against Caledonia AIA of Trinidad. Workmanlike stuff, but two road games are next.

— That led into a dominant 4-0 league win against the Galaxy in front of 60,000-plus at CenturyLink Field. I’m not sure if donations were collected at the door on the way out (a poor reference to the “refund” of 2010, I know), but Seattle has now outscored L.A. 6-0 in a pair of wins this year, and the most recent decision came against the visitors’ full complement of stars.

— At about his point, people were jokingly tweeting that I should get married more often or never come back from the honeymoon, but fortunes turned.

— After an emotional Open Cup final, which saw the Sounders’ run at an unprecedented fourth-straight title come to an end on penalty kicks, referee Ricardo Salazar was the main talking point. And it’s not hard to understand the gripe. It was difficult to see what led to the Sporting Kansas City PK in regular time (the Gol TV broadcast plays a big role in that) and calling a goalkeeper for being marginally off his line in a cup final will always raise some eyebrows, at the very least.

— Controversy aside, arguably the two best Sounders this season (All-Stars Osvaldo Alonso and Eddie Johnson) didn’t even get their PKs on target.

— Seattle’s Open Cup run to date continues to be nothing short of spectacular, and not just in the scope of American soccer but world soccer. Even if it’s little consolation, the Sounders are technically unbeaten in the tournament as PK decisions count as ties.

— The path to the 2013-14 CCL has become a lot more difficult and will likely require a trip to the MLS Cup. But will the lack of a midseason celebration for the first time in Sounders FC’s four years provide a motivation heading into the playoffs that we haven’t seen yet?

— Seattle is 0-for-2 in trophy pursuits so far this year and Open Cup pain was followed up by a loss in San Jose on a goal at the death by the forward Steven Lenhart, who’s quickly becoming a nemesis of the Sounders. Coach Sigi Schmid was forced to field a bit of a makeshift lineup on short rest against the MLS leaders, so the result, a 2-1 defeat, maybe isn’t entirely shocking. That the winning goal came in the final minute of stoppage time, just after a dramatic equalizer by Fredy Montero makes it hard to stomach though.

— Speaking of which, has anyone noticed Montero has scored in three of his last four MLS games? He’s scored in three of four overall when you include the CCL game and six in his last seven games if you include the Chelsea friendly.

— Midfielder Andy Rose was the only other Sounder to score multiple goals in my four-game absence and he’s starting to put together one of the best rookie seasons in franchise history.

— New DP Christian Tiffert has played a significant role in the past three games and it will be interesting to see how Schmid crafts a new starting lineup for a late-season run.

Steve Zakuani made the bench for a couple games and played 90 minutes in Sunday’s MLS Reserve League game, a 3-0 loss, to San Jose. More positive stuff along his road back.

— Lastly, I’ve seen reports passed along that newly acquired midfielder Mario Martinez will join the team after a friendly this week between the Honduran national team and Boca Juniors in Miami on Wednesday. That’s the extent of my knowledge on that front and I’ll try to get an update tomorrow.

* * *

Anything else stand out to you from the past 10 days?

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