19
Jul

Seattle Sounders made Xander Bailey’s wish come true and it’s beautiful

Xander Bailey had his Make-A-Wish dream come true in a big way on Saturday — and on his birthday, no less. The 19-year-old from West Virginia has been dealing with cystic fibrosis since he was a baby while also playing soccer for most of his life.

His dream? Meet his favorite soccer player, Seattle Sounders star Clint Dempsey.

His reality? Not only did Xander meet Dempsey, but he signed a contract with the Sounders, trained with the team and even spoke with the media. The Sounders pulled out all the stops.

But it didn’t stop there. As Seattle geared up for a pre-season friendly against Tottenham Hotspur, Xander was named to their active roster and started against the English club.

Hey, Brad Friedel, maybe give the kid a break and let that one slip through?

Even the fans got involved, creating a banner for their club’s newest signing. 

What an unbelievable few days for Xander and his family. Bravo, Seattle. Bravo.

19
Jul

Clint Dempsey earns spot on FIFA 15 Cover

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Seattle forward Clint Dempsey returned from the World Cup to find out he had landed another honor: a place on the cover of FIFA 2015.

Dempsey is the first American player to land on the cover of the game since Landon Donovan in 2011. He will share the duties with Lionel Messi when the game hits the shelves in September.

"It’s crazy," Dempsey said in a phone interview on Friday. "It’s really cool. I was a fan of the game growing up, playing with my friends. Going from playing the game with my friends to being able to play with my own player in the game and now being on the cover, it’s something that’s pretty special. It’s an honor."

It is also a sign of Dempsey’s cultural relevance in a World Cup year and the increasing influence of MLS on the whole. The popularity of the game — and the presence of the U.S. captain on the cover of it — offers yet another entry point for emerging fans. If Dempsey’s presence prompts more players to opt for MLS sides instead of Barcelona or Real Madrid, then it is exactly the sort of development that can help the league moving forward.

Those broader concerns matter in the long term for a league still seeking to expand its foothold among the general population, but the cachet afforded by Dempsey’s place on the cover reaps immediate benefits, too.  

"I’m super excited that Clint’s on the cover," Seattle defender DeAndre Yedlin said. "I think the fans not only in Seattle, but throughout America will really like it and appreciate because Clint is such a familiar face in soccer, especially in America. I think everybody’s really going to like it. I’m excited to see the response."

Dempsey dons his Sounders FC alternate jersey on the XBox version of the cover (Seattle has the Xbox logo on the front of its kits) and wears his international jersey on the PS4 cover.

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Photos courtesy of EA Sports

25
May

Erik Hurtado makes defenders look silly

imageBreaking ankles is a move generally reserved for the basketball court, but Vancouver Whitecaps forward Erik Hurtado did so on the soccer pitch Saturday night.

In a 2-2 draw with the Seattle Sounders, Hurtado briefly made it 1-1 on a superf finish from a tight angle, but not before twisting both Osvaldo Alonso and Djimi Traore into pretzels. Watch the goal below:

Ouch.

16
Jan

Seattle Sounders pick part-time rapper in MLS SuperDraft

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Break out the turntables, Seattle!

In the second round of Thursday’s MLS SuperDraft, the Sounders selected Jimmy Ockford out of Louisville, a promising central defender and…  rapper?

Yes, the 21-year-old prospect has built up a solid rap catalog along with his partner Dalton Carroll. The duo, who call themselves “Absolute Pursuit,” have posted ten songs on Soundcloud and amassed more than 6,000 likes on Facebook. Pretty good!

Or…not so good? Their Facebook page lists Asher Roth and Sam Adams among their influences. Hmm.

Of course, it’s no surprise Ockford was drafted by the Sounders, who already employ one part-time rapper:

Let’s hope that Dempsey… er, Deuce, can give Jimmy a few tips before they team up for the inevitable collab album.

Image via Instagram/Jockford

1
Dec

Cole the latest Chelsea star linked with Major League Soccer

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Jermain Defoe’s protracted move to Toronto seems to be the continuation of a new trend in soccer transfers - with players being linked to moves between the Premier League and MLS almost constantly.

LA Galaxy stars Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane have recently been linked to loan moves to the so-called ‘biggest league in the world’, as has Seattle Sounders midfielder Clint Dempsey.

This next rumor is a biggy, though. According to one of the Sunday newspapers over in the UK, Champions League winner and England and Chelsea star Ashley Cole is being eyed up by two MLS sides for a summer switch.

Find out who and take a look at the rest of the day’s rumors in today’s Paper Chase.

14
Nov

Iniesta, Dempsey wanted by Premier League heavyweights

In terms of soccer transfer stories, they don’t get much bigger than what we present you today. The latest rumors link Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta to Manchester United, whose creative midfield problems have been only too documented in the past.

As well as that though, we bring you the news of a true soccer legend nearing his own return to the Premier League. Clint Dempsey has previously turned out for Fulham and Tottenham in England, and those two sides, as well as Aston Villa and Everton, have expressed an interest in bringing the Seattle Sounders stars back on loan. Read all about the above rumors and many more with a simple click.

7
Nov

Portland vs Seattle. Here. We. Go.

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We all love our rivalry games. El Clasico. El Superclasico. Manchester derby. Bayern-Dortmund. Roma-Lazio. Boca-River.

In North America, the best we have is in the Pacific Northwest: Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders. And tonight, for one last time this season, they will battle. This time it’s in the playoffs, with a spot in the conference final on the line. Not only that, but it’s Portland’s first-ever MLS playoff match at home, and they hold a one-goal lead heading into this second leg. Are you getting the shakes just thinking about it?

With so much at stake, it would be amiss to not get you pumped up with an awesome super-fan video. This short film gives an inside look into the Timbers Army, and what goes into making their famous tifos. It also follows a group of 1500 die-hards to a rivalry match in Seattle, one of the loudest places on Earth. It really captures the intensity and importance of the rivalry, and there couldn’t be a better appetizer to tonight’s match!

7
Nov

Seattle Sounders defender Brad Evans could be named sheriff for a day

Just how many write-in votes Seattle Sounders and U.S. national team midfielder/right back Brad Evans got exactly for the King County sheriff election on Tuesday is hard to say. He definitely got one, from Sounders podcaster Aaron Campeau, who tweeted out his picture.

Even if John Urquhart ran unopposed, the unofficial Evans campaign, which seemed to lack exposure, traction and, erm, campaigning, won something in the end.

If the Sounders beat the Portland Timbers tonight and advance to the Western Conference finals, Urquhart will let Evans be sheriff for a day. Or so he said in his own tweet, holding up a Sounders scarf.

Evans, in turn, re-tweeted Urquhart’s tweet with the post-script “this is happening!

So if the Sounders drag out a win from their 2-1 aggregate deficit on Thursday night, be sure not to spit, litter or urinate in public around Brad Evans on Friday.

6
Nov

MLS Cup Playoffs Preview: Conference semifinals 2nd legs

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – New England coach Jay Heaps captured the fraught nature of the toil ahead over the next two days as he assessed the Revolution’s situation ahead of the season-defining visit to Sporting Kansas City tonight.

“There’s a lot of work (ahead),” Heaps said earlier this week after his side claimed a 2-1 victory in the first leg of their Eastern Conference semifinal tie on Saturday. “These are playoff scenarios in MLS: you have to be ready for halftime, basically. It’s just a long halftime. It’s a tough task. We have a couple of days to prepare. We’ll go in there ready.”

The entire season for eight teams boils down to the second half of a two-game, aggregate goals series. Each of the four semifinals – yes, even Portland up 2-1 heading into a second leg at JELD-WEN Field – hangs firmly in the balance after the first half. The job isn’t done yet, though. And the way these teams see out the second half will determine the composition of the final four when the last of these conference semifinal ties winds to a close on Friday morning.

New York – Houston (Wednesday, 8:00p.m. – tied 2-2 on aggregate)

How – if at all – will Houston adjust to Jamison Olave’s absence?
New York must take the field without its defensive leader after he procured a red card for his rash lunge on Omar Cummings during the first leg.  The corresponding alterations – Markus Holgersson into the middle, Brandon Barklage to fill the void at right back – appear relatively straightforward from the Red Bulls’ point of view. Houston’s amended approach remains a bit more uncertain, though. The most straightforward play involves dropping Giles Barnes or Will Bruin and injecting a bit of pace, but the Dynamo – tried and true in the postseason – could find other ways to exploit the deficiencies without altering its personnel group.

New England – Sporting Kansas City (Wednesday, 9:00p.m. – New England leads 2-1 on aggregate)

Can Sporting Kansas City muster the necessary sharpness in front of goal?
The question isn’t whether Sporting will produce the chance or two required to pull this tie level. The home side will enjoy enough of the ball and send enough numbers forward to threaten at some point. Whether this group can finally break through when presented with the requisite opportunity remains uncertain. If Sporting fails to find its equalizer in due course, then its ambition could prove its undoing with the Revs more than capable of absorbing the pressure with its stout defensive shape and exploiting the resulting space with tidy work on the counter.

Real Salt Lake – LA Galaxy (Thursday, 9:00p.m. – LA Galaxy leads 1-0 on aggregate)

Will Real Salt Lake find a way to translate its possession into goals?
Big matches at Rio Tinto Stadium often unfold along the same, frustrating lines for the home side: plenty of the ball, not enough incisiveness. The infuriating recent history provides further incentive to start well and place the Galaxy under the sword from the outset. The desire to rectify past ills comes with a caveat, though: RSL must carefully monitor where it concedes possession in order to prevent the visitors from dashing through midfield or exploiting the additional space ceded on the edge by penalty area with the return to the 4-4-2 diamond setup.

Portland – Seattle (Thursday, 11:00p.m. – Portland leads 2-1 on aggregate)

How often will Seattle place Clint Dempsey in a position to change this series?
Dempsey posed a constant threat in the first leg without converting in front of goal. Any improbable revival effort – and it is decidedly against the odds given Portland’s formidable home record and its ability to see out these sorts of matches with its work in possession – hinges on whether Dempsey can turn those openings into a more tangible end product. Seattle paid Dempsey handsomely to deliver in these sorts of spots. The formation and the team selection must provide him with the latitude to do so.

4
Nov

MLS Cup Playoffs: What we learned from Conference Semifinal 1st legs

imageImages: USA Today

LA Galaxy manager Bruce Arena summed up the tenuous state of the MLS Conference Semifinal ties in his typically succinct way on Sunday night.

“I’d rather be the team ahead,” Arena told reporters after his side claimed a 1-0 victory over Real Salt Lake in Carson, Calif. “These are always difficult matches. All the games in the league are all competitive going into the second game. It’s going to be difficult. Obviously, having the one goal is a real plus, but it’s going to take a heck of an effort in the next 90 minutes.”

It took plenty of energy to even reach the halfway point in these series, truth be told. All eight teams enter midweek with genuine hopes of booking a place in the final four, but they must heed the lessons learned from a nervy weekend in order to claim it:

New England 2 – Sporting Kansas City 1

Precision provides Revolution with a foothold: New England ceded possession by design (38 percent accrued on the night, according to Opta statistics) in this first leg in a bid to draw Sporting out and exploit the ensuing space. Sporting, for the most part, resisted those urges and retained its shape superbly, but two lapses – one iffy clearance, one instance of poor closing through midfield – invited the Revs to attack swiftly. The tidiness displayed in those sequences – particularly the sumptuous second rounded off by Kelyn Rowe’s outside of the foot finish – punished Sporting for its modest letdowns. If the Revs can produce similarly neat combination play as Sporting eventually commits numbers into the attack on Wednesday night, then they could book a place in the Eastern Conference championship.

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