Best Two out of Three: The Seattle Runback

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I missed documenting the Sounder’s first game back from international break. Sue me. All you need to know is that combining our B-squad and parts of our A-squad doesn’t really work. It’s something I’ve been harping on about on Twitter for the past couple of years. This inability to plug and play teammates is incredibly frustrating but as one Aaron Campeau pointed out to me during the World Cup, there are my expectations and then there is reality. Trust me, I am trying to accept the reality. My doctor tells me my blood pressure is finally down after the last four year. Yes, this accepting realistic expectations is a good thing.

 

What is a better thing was that USOC game versus the Timbers. Oh my Lord! This game proved that the USOC passion is still alive and well in the Sounders. The first half was battle of the midfields with a few run-and-gun moments that never finished for either side. It’s well-documented Sigi and Co have been putting Ozzie through a three-week marathon of Naruto animes. It seems to have paid off because his goal off of a Neagle cross was absolutely dark art bushido. You could almost hear him call out the name of the move: “Stinging Badger Shuriken!”

 

It came down to seconds at the end when the Timbers equalized in the 93 minute. All that relentless pressure was too much for the Sounders defense. Frei was playing on point up until the goal. I’d even say that the Timbers played a little Chaos and Confusion in the 18 to cause that goal. Much respect to Fernandez for the follow-up that caused most of Washington to go into cardiac arrest. The game was evenly matched and with Zakuani on for the Timbers (yes, that is a thing I have to consciously think about) and Yedlin off, the tipping point was Chara. Chara though, came up to play the villain. Studs up and scissorkicking like M.Bison, Chara straight dirty tackled Marco Pappa and pulled a red card for his lack of judgement. From this game-changer, Kenny Cooper’s head and Marco Pappa’s tigershot (My pet name for his famous longshots) gave the Sounders two more goals to end the hot and muggy game 3-1.

 

It’s been said on the other side of the Pacific Northwest that this game was unfair for two reasons: It was played at the subpar venue that is Starfire and that the call on Chara was unfair. To the first point, Starfire has character and personality which is more than what I can say about a lot of other venues in the MLS. It should actually appeal to the Portland mentality of being quirky and out of the ordinary kind of like Providence Park. Those qualities are the only reason I like Providence. Starfire brings teams and supporters a little reminder of where we all came from when we were eight years old. It’s a break from the World Cup, from stadium play, from huge crowds chanting. I am sorry if you don’t like it but it’s not about how many people we can stuff in a stadium for USOC; it’s the brotherhood and tight knit community that soccer brings. That’s why I like playing the USOC at Starfire.

 

As for the second point, it is an incredibly simple philosophy. Soccer is like life. It’s unfair. Deal with it and move on. With that out of the way, Chara should know better. The problem is that he doesn’t. That thick-headed move was being rushed out several times throughout the game and it was only a matter of time before consequences were doled out. Either Chara needs to learn (doubtful) or Porter needs to learn how to coach that kind of player (again, doubtful).

 

On Sunday, the official Cascadia Cup scrum between the these two teams takes off. With a morning of World Cup Finals between Germany and Argentina (Go Germany!) and a healthy coat of 90+ degree weather rolling through the Emerald City, soccer lovers will be going into one of the hypest games in the league. Nay! The world. So come out and help us celebrate the birthday of our very own Jacob Cristobal, the man who keeps the machine running and my words fresh here at Cheeky Backheel. Will we see our two World Cup stars duke it out in Centurylink? What tactics will Porter bring to the table? Will the heat die down in the evening to allow for a whole 90 minutes of running and dominating? The most vital question though: What will the tifos be like???

 

All these questions will be answered on Sunday!

 

ON YOU SOUNDERS!!!!!


Prediction: Sounders 3-Portland 1 (run it back, boys. Let’s give them nightmares).

Quenching my thirst with unfathomable tears

The multiple slaps of flesh hit the air, a rotating and rhythmic pitter-pattering of the fingers. A cliche outstretch of the hands, layered over the keyboard, their innocent knuckles brought to justice in one swift movement. Hollywood portrays great moments starting out this way, especially in the 80s. Where Neo-Tokyo was a sparkle in William Gibson’s eye and the second-lightest noble gas made finally had its due. It has sort of come back, the neon that is. We are all fascinated with the 80s cocaine-addled lore and the metropolitan ideal of minimalism that I truly believe that the 2000s are exactly what our parents in 1982 thought America would terraform into.

Even our music has a tinge of early 80s to it. From burgeoning underground hitmaker Kavinsky to the best get together the world has ever seen (I am talking about Daft Punk’s Grammy performance. Look it up), the old house movement that I grew up haphazardly making cassette mixtapes with is more adult and self-aware. The techno world turned its nose up at the mainstream but the world embraced it into a full-fledged poppy seed.

I have no idea where I am going with this. None. Zip. Nada. I just wanted to jot some words down and have them be read. I am narcissistic in that way.

The Calming of Ares

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Life is the trickery of the scorpion’s tail, wavering back to front and side to side, covering all the angles. Anticipating. Tense. Without the slightest nod to proper rules of engagement, all you want to do is go take a rest right next to that prickly hydrant you clambered towards. The desert fills with a glassy black ink and your forehead beads with cold sweat despite the cosmic fireball passing over your diluted gaze. The padded thud is distant and the sand begins to bury, a job it is has perfected over millenniums.

I had to write. Something and anything to get myself back into the groove. The fact that my writing has gone to the wayside in both quality and quantity is not a testament to how much I’ve been working. It seems I’ve lost my flair for the dramatic since I’ve been writing about the Sounders. Someone told me this and it pains me. Lessons have been taught. Now I have to learn from them.

Work is a dream. My boss is wonderful. Kristen is patient and kind. Some has rubbed off on me. More weddings. More travelling. More reading. Much more soccer. More time. World Cup: Go England! Sister graduated. Much wow.

Yeah…I know. I fucked up the doge thing.

SSX Late Edition: Busted Guts & Blowing Glory

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For the past couple of years, I’ve written about the Seattle Sounders on my personal blog. I write for those who take the bus Monday morning and need a quick but passionate read of the matchday event. I am less of a number-cruncher and more of a cheerleader. Imagine the huddle before every game and I am that person hyping up the team. It is a wonderful feeling to get a win and think that somewhere perhaps one of the players read my enthusiasm. When the losses came, I took it personally and relegated myself  to reflect on how to better instigate the fire to win the next game. Then it derailed just like Eddie Johnson’s ego. It is not surprising that I stopped commentating in the middle of last season. My love for my team outweighs any necessary common sense it would take to cheer on the USMNT. In this logic, losing so many players to the Klinsmann Machine was plain distracting. The ego-stroking, the greed, the politics. It may be a part of the background noise in Europe but not here. That’s not how we do football in the Emerald City. We never yacht alone, invent things that we didn’t realize we needed or wanted, we contribute to the conversation instead of detracting from it. But the shenanigans that Sigi and Company were throwing out were just too much for my little heart to take

Last Sunday, against the Timbers, was a return to form. Who would have thought that we would start a near perfect team after the forty billion formations of the last two seasons? Not I. I doubted Sigi’s ability to control the team ego let alone have a cohesive strategy in place. As soon as the scoreboard reached 2-2, I prayed that Sigi wouldn’t play for a draw. For about thirty minutes, we looked 2009-2011. Dangerous, creative, rock solid. The other 60? Competent but not aware. Impatient. Indecisive. That draw that I didn’t want to play for became a life and death struggle to reach as the opposition climbed up the charts through mistakes on the Sounders backline.

It was nothing like past two years but there were traces of the last year’s decrepit playoffs on our cleats and the pungent air of elitism that followed still wafted about here and there. Then Deuce pulled something out of his hat. Three thunderous goals is all it took to rattle the bones of yesteryear’s performances. You’ve undoubtedly heard and seen them by this point in the week. He mean-mugged all of Providence Park and he proved he was not just some poster boy for the MLS. The team isn’t in this for the money. Provided he works with the appropriate toolset (Neagle, Cooper, Oba, Ozzie, Pineda), they are in it to win it. This is the exact attitude we need when the chips don’t fall in our favor.

Before I go, I want to make something perfectly clear. I want the Sounders to win everything. They can do it. Just as we did from Inauguration to U.S. Open Cup 2011, we have the players and the mindset to win as much silverware as possible and stack the deck with our deep bench. Somewhere between 2012 and the implosion of the last year, some supporters thought it was good enough for us to win while divided. I’d rather lose and lose like a team that wanted the win than to just give up and not battle. A very special coach told me “We win together, we lose together. There is no blame game because we don’t have time for that.”

Take this attitude against the chart-busting FC Dallas next Saturday and I am pretty confident we’ll burst their bubble.

ON YOU SOUNDERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Stars and Garters

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What sound effect are you most like today?

Finality has a good ring to it. Six years of haunting the nightshift has culminated in my willing departing from ATS. One year of ruining my life, one year of solitude and repair, one year of confidence, three years of brilliance, love, dominance. I am anxious which has been the word for the past two months. A concoction of stretched excitement and frayed nerves, I look back on my past posts and giggle at how I survived my water-down version of war and PTSD.

With all the bombast that has been playing in my background, I’d like a little silence. Mute the world and decrescendo the remaining pockets of whispers. I just want to runaway in my own thoughts for the first time in what seems an eternity.

So… *pop*

Terrible

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Alright, alright. I know. I am a bad person. Letting the blog go to shit and my life pass me by without giving any updates. So in a rather particular order, here is what is significant that has happened:

  1. Got married (yes, it was amazeballs and yes, I wish everyone could have come).
  2. Sister is graduating from USC with a grad degree (officially, she’s smarter than me. Now she has a piece of paper and huge amounts of debt to prove it).
  3. Conversely, I am one-half A+ certified (the -801 (hardware)). This means I actually know what the hell I am talking about when it comes to computers. The dream lives on!
  4. I have a new job starting April 11. No. I won’t go into detail about it because I have great respect for it. Those who know will know but just know this: I can live life like a normal person. Everyone rejoice.
  5. The car, the Impreza, handles like a dream. Not significant for you but it’s a pretty nice thing for me so nyah!

Writing ran away when I didn’t make the time. A gentleman at Cheeky Backheel has been talking to me about writing for them. I’d really like to and now that life has given me some breathing room, I can get a rhythm going to some bombastic beats and lay down some ink that concerns the Sounders. I am thinking Sounders Exchange but with a much bigger budget and smarter writing (that last bit will come from the founder, Jacob Cristobal. Smartest guy in soccer that I know). I don’t do deadlines (how the original Sounders Soccer Exchange ended up doing so well, I will never know).

As for the blog, it’s not going anywhere. I found my book of questions and I will start answering them like I used to. It’s therapeutic if anything. A fellow Twitter follower has asked me to look at his own blog and I am more than happy to help out. It’s not my expertise but I like to hope that through discovering what they excel at, I can learn and grow.

It’s a new era, ladies and gents. Expect greatness.