Hungry for MLS? Here's some appetizers

Here's a quick rundown of the potential big friendly matches that may be coming to Qwest Field this summer.

-Mexico vs. China, international friendly: This would be an intriguing match between two seemingly unlikely opponents. Rumored to be April 16.
Probability: Fairly low. The supposed gameday isn't on a FIFA international date... and why would Mexico want a friendly in Seattle, anyways? (EDIT - we fail, this is happening. You should go! April 16!)

-US mens national team, World Cup qualifiers: One of three probable, hugely important matches could be held at Qwest, which would, being geographically far from the likely opponents, provide a great home-field advantage.
Probability: Moderate. Seattle is one of seven cities and there are just three games to go around. Having never before hosted a qualifier could come to our advantage.

-Seattle Sounders vs. KC Wizards, friendly: Seattle played at KC last year, and now it's our turn to host them. A win (albeit a meaningless one) here is very possible.
Probability: Moderate. The front office is still working on finding a suitable date for both clubs. If they can't work it out, the match will be played in 2009 instead.

-LA Galaxy vs. AEK Athens, friendly: Another odd pairing, this would pit David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Ruud 'Sexy Football' Gullit against... a bunch of Greek guys. Rumored to be May 26, though that could change.
Probability: Fairly high. While the rumored date might present a scheduling conflict for the Galaxy, they take every opportunity to play friendlies/make money off of Beckham. Something will probably get worked out.


Give a big hand to...

The incoming Philadelphia franchise, which will be the 16th to enter MLS, and will do so in their own waterfront soccer stadium (probably in 2010). It's about time that their fantastic media market and long history with soccer was rewarded. And we're especially happy for all the hard-core fans in Philly, who are so dedicated that they formed a supporters group long before their team was ever announced.

St. Louis seems to be a certainty for the 17th franchise, which almost certainly won't be until 2011 at the earliest. But after that, there's a bevy of potential cities that want and will be able to support MLS. Vancouver? Miami? Another New York team? Montreal? Anchorage??? These decisions, however, are likely a long ways off.

EDIT: With MLS saying that they're hoping to have 18 teams by 2011, those decisions might not be that far away after all! St. Louis is the definite front-runner for one of spots #17 and #18, and after that... who knows.


Soccer returns! Sort of.

While many in the sporting world are focused on baseball's spring training, MLS teams are already playing in games that mean something. At least, that's what they want you to think.

The Pan-Pacific Cup final was yesterday in Hawaii, crowning Japanese side Gamba Osaka victors of a 4-team tournament including Houston Dynamo, LA Galaxy and the Aussies of Sydney FC. In reality, this means nothing - the two MLS sides weren't fielding their most competitive lineups.
However, the tournament did introduce many American soccer fans to Gamba star striker Baré, a 26 year old Brazilian. With 5 goals in 2 games, 4 of them coming in the final against defending champions Houston, he put on a totally dominant performance. And he's been consistently good in the J-League, with 92 goals in the last 5 years. If he wanted to move to a higher-profile league and team, Seattle MLS would seem to be a good choice, yes?

Unfortunately, he's so good that acquiring him might be difficult. Says Adrian Hanauer, "...honestly, the salaries in the J-league are generally higher than those of MLS, and a team like Gamba Osaka would probably be looking for a multi-million dollar transfer fee, for a player like Bare. In MLS, Bare would probably command designated player type compensation." It appears that if Seattle MLS will sign a designated player, they're going to go out and pick up a real superstar. Sadly, Baré probably isn't that guy.


How to be awesome

Do you think this design looks pretty sweet? Do you often lay awake in bed wondering "How can I show my support for local soccer - and still save money?"

Then HOLY CRAP you're in luck. We've updated our store with this original logo on t-shirts, polos, buttons and stuff. Get this on a t-shirt for only 12 bucks! You know you want to. All profits go to us to help us move to a real website and purchase a real domain name.

The link now lives permanently on the sidebar, but here it is as well. All you Real Salt Lake fans, show us how much you love us and buy a t-shirt. Do it for the children.


The case for Salt Lake

If Seattle is going to enter the league with a rival already lined up, we can think of no better choice than Real Salt Lake.

There's a couple reasons. One, obviously, is their silly name. The Sonics and the Utah Jazz have a pretty good rivalry (when the Sonics are competitive) in the NBA. And RSL are possibly the closest team to Seattle (San Jose might be closer), which makes sense geographically. But the biggest reason? They cost us Seattle fans 4 years of MLS.

In 2004, as many may recall, Seattle was a leading candidate to score an expansion team. Don Garber, MLS commissioner went so far as to say that our bid "absolutely has an inside track." But then the Salt Lake City bid kind of came out of nowhere, throwing cash all over the place and stealing our MLS franchise away from us. Surely this is legitimate reason to consider them our rivals.

And seriously, who picks Salt Lake City over Seattle for a sports franchise? That's like, to conjure up a hypothetical example, moving a team from Seattle to, say, Oklahoma City.


Can rivalries be 'created?'

One of the greatest things about soccer is the rivalries... feuds like Rangers-Celtic and Milan-Inter that surpass anything American sports have to offer. MLS has its share, as well. There's no love lost between New York and D.C. United, and the hatred San Jose fans have toward Los Angeles is nearly unmatched in U.S.A. professional sports.

On the other hand, there's the Rocky Mountain Cup. Put in place a few years ago when Real Salt Lake entered the league, this 'competition' pits them against the Colorado Rapids, their geographic neighbors some 400 miles away. And new for this year is a fabricated rivalry between Columbus and Toronto. (Maybe call it the "Suck Cup?")

Seattle, when we enter the league, will have no natural rivalries, with the closest teams geographically about 12 hours of driving away. The former USL rivals of the Sounders, Vancouver and Portland, don't have a realistic chance of entering MLS for at least 5 to 8 years. So would it be better to create a rivalry shortly after entering the league, which would provide some boost to fan support and interest, or wait and see if something develops naturally?


Australian soccer players are all zombies

Tomorrow we'll have a post with real, actual on-topic content. We promise.

(The zombie in front plays for the Central Coast Mariners, which is like Seattle Mariners, who play across from Qwest Field, where Seattle MLS will play. ON-TOPIC.)


Northwest's team should look south

The Beckham's and Blanco's may attract all the headlines, but it's becoming clear that one of the best ways to build a solid MLS side for cheap (the cheap part is necessary, given the stringent salary cap currently in place) is through South America.

Ahndray Rocha, a young Brazilian signed today by FC Dallas, is the latest young talent to join the league. Dallas already had the Columbian hotshot Juan Carlos Toja. Columbus managed to avoid being a huge suck-fest thanks to the midfield play of Guillermo Barros Schelotto (from Argentina). Real Salt Lake (who WERE actually a huge suck-fest) was given a huge late-season boost by the signings of Javier Morales and Matias Mantilla (also Argentina). And DC United rolled to the best regular season record in MLS largely because they have like 8 talented South Americans on their roster.

While all the talk is around the current Sounders Seattle MLS could call upon, and the potential designated players like Shunsuke Nakamura that get soccer fans drooling, it would be wise for Adrian Hanauer to take note of all the good, cheap talented South Americans that are available.


Whatever our uniforms are like...

...it won't be as bad as the original MLS uniforms in 1996.


The National Team: Coming to a Stadium Near You?

If you liked what you saw in the US Mens National Team's thrilling 2-2 draw with Mexico last night, you could be in luck. There's a good chance that one of the group stage World Cup Qualifiers is played in Qwest Field sometime this fall.

Seattle is one of a number of cities being considered to host a game (the others are Columbus, L.A., Dallas, D.C., Chicago and Denver, out of which 3 will be chosen.) Logic and fairness dictates that one game will be held west of the Rockies... but L.A. is already hosting a qualifier in June! So Seattle would seem to be a front-runner to host a game (at Qwest, obviously). Our guesses for the other 2? D.C. and Denver.

Keep in mind, though, that the USMNT does need to beat either Barbados or Dominica in June just to advance to the group stage. Fortunately, though, the gulf in talent between the U.S. and either of these two teams is wider than the Gulf of Mexico separating the countries geographically. Keep your fingers crossed...

(Original source here)


Call it an 'unfriendly'

ESPN2 and Univision, 9:00 ET (6:00 PT)

Want to watch a big game that people in more than one country care about?

Tune into the somewhat annual USA-Mexico match Wednesday night. Nothing official will be on the line, but that doesn't matter when these two teams face off. For those who don't know, the U.S. and Mexico teams (or at least their fans) absolutely hate each other, making this one of the top rivalries in international soccer.

Mexico, ranked 15th in the world, are probably in slightly better form than the United States (currently 20th). But Mexico haven't won in the last 9 games they've played in the U.S., and this contest will be held just across the border in Houston. It's definitely one worth watching.

(And if you do, make sure to check out the spanish-language broadcast. Even if you can't understand a word they're saying, it's still supremely entertaining.)