Okay, you can’t say you weren’t warned. This post is about soccer. I need to rave about three soccer-related events right now: the Seattle Sounders FC qualified for the MLS playoffs, baby; the U.S. men’s soccer team qualified for the FIFA World Cup, which means I finally have a legitimate reason to post a topless photo of Landon Donovan; and a new movie about a former coach of Leeds United (a British soccer team, or really, an English football team) is opening in Seattle this weekend.
We are big-time soccer nuts here at our house and let me tell you that this is an outstanding time to be a soccer nut. Did you see that Seattle Sounders/Kansas City Wizards game on Saturday? What a roller coaster. My boy Freddie Ljunberg was THE MAN. He got two assists and was his usual Tasmanian devil out there on the field. He is the one who makes it all happen — offensively, defensively, and emotionally. His generosity is unbelievable. His vision and tenacity are awe-inspiring. He’s like a moving tree trunk out there — when players run into him while he’s dribbling or try to mow him down he remains upright, defying physics. My only gripe is his need to get up in the ref’s grill so often. Maybe it’s a psychological thing he needs to do, to pump himself up and psych out the players, but I always worry that he’s going to pick up more cards in the process and get booted from the game.
The Sounders could have very easily lost that match on Saturday. Even though they were up 1-0 fairly early on, I was nervous. I told Andy, “this feels like a 3-1 loss to me, with the Sounders losing.” And, sure enough, the Sounders were down 2-1 before too long and Freddy Montero was choking like crazy. He missed two dead-easy gimme shots that had me screaming like a maniac at the TV, “Take him out of the game, Sigi! Pull him now!” And, I’d like to thank you now, Coach Schmid, for listening to me and yanking Montero out of the game because that turned the game around. Roger Levesque came in, focused, and ready to score, thanks to an assist from Ljunberg. Then, Nate Jaqua scored, again thanks to an assist from Ljunberg, and the Sounders ended up beating the Wizards, in Kansas City, 3-2. That makes the Sounders the second MLS team ever to qualify for the playoffs in their first year as a team. What a beautiful season this has been. Thank you, Sounders.
Thanks to a 3-2 win over Honduras on Oct. 19, the U.S. men’s team is now guaranteed a spot in the next World Cup tournament, to be held in South Africa next June. We had dreamed of going there in person, but have decided to stay here and watch it on TV instead. Early notice to all of our soccer friends — we’ll be watching as many matches as possible that month and you are welcome to join us here, at all hours. Thank you, Landon Donovan, for scoring that third goal to clinch the U.S. team’s spot in the World Cup and for giving me a good reason to include this photo of you.
And, finally, Andy and I hope we get a chance to go see The Damned United this weekend. I’ve read that it doesn’t feature a lot of actual soccer playing, but it’s an excellent behind the scenes look at Leeds United and British football at a specific time (late 60s, early 70s). In other words, during the soccer scenes, the shorts will be very short.