A few days ago, Stevie D wondered if the Seattle Sounders and CenturyLink Field were getting closer to hosting a United States national team game. He has his reasons: some convoluted but positive words from general manager Adrian Hanauer; the sense that (sorry Portland!) Seattle is the best soccer city in the country; the general sentiment that CenturyLink deserves a game.
It seems that others agree. Seattle is “in the mix” for one of the five World Cup qualification matches during the upcoming Hexagonal.
Except that I’m not sure it is. “In the mix,” perhaps, but put it on the “doubtful” list. There are simply too many negatives: the distance, the turf, the weather, etc. Too many variables for a too important game.
Steve suggests that a Gold Cup game will find its way to Seattle, and I’m inclined to agree. But I think it will be more than that. I think it’s the Gold Cup semifinals. (They were both played in Houston’s Reliant Stadium in 2011.)
A couple months ago I attended a media summit in Portland featuring Hanauer and Timbers owner Merritt Paulson. The prospect of having the USMNT play in Seattle came up, and the Sounders GM addressed the problem. The gist of his remarks were something along the lines of “It’s really a pain to put in turf. We aren’t against hosting the team, but it’s not our highest priority and we’ll only do so if it makes financial sense.”
Hosting an early round game doesn’t make financial sense. Furthermore, playing an opening round game against an inferior opponent isn’t the best idea in a huge stadium, even one which boasts such an impressive and passionate fanbase. (See: 25,000 in Ford Field for U.S.-Canada in 2011.) The Gold Cup final will almost certainly be in the Rose Bowl, but it would be great to reward the people of the Pacific Northwest with the semifinals.
Bonus: it’s not that far a flight to Los Angeles for the last match.
That logic is infallible, right?
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has confirmed myriad reports he’s leaving Manchester United with a perfectly-Zlatan Instagram message.
Ibrahimovic is expected to join the LA Galaxy next week.
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The words aren’t too important, but Ibrahimovic posted an old graphic of him in Greek god garb, arm-wrestling a devil. So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.
The living Swedish legend, 36, has been limited to seven appearances, one start, and one goal in returning from a season-ending knee injury, but finishes his Manchester United tenure with an impressive 29 goals and 10 assists in 53 games (deduct the seven and one for peak impressiveness).
Gareth Bale has now unquestionably written his name into Wales history.
The 28-year-old Real Madrid scored a hat-trick for Wales in its 6-0 demolition of China, taking his overall tally to 29 goals, breaking Ian Rush’s record.
“It is right up there, maybe as the best,” Bale told reporters after the game. “I suppose when I was a little boy I never dreamed of being a record-breaker for Wales. It is a massive honor. I was not thinking about it, but now it has come it’s an incredible honor and one of the best things I’ve achieved in my career. On a personal note it’s great to break the record, but I could not have done it without my team-mates.”
Bale was unable to carry Wales to the 2018 World Cup, but he first became a National Team legend by helping take Wales to the Euro 2016 semifinals, scoring three goals along the way.
Here’s a look at Bale’s record-breaking goal.
In his ninth Major League Soccer season, Ike Opara has scored just a dozen regular season goals.
He’s known more for his physicality in the backline, for creating space for teammates on set pieces, or heading balls on to teammates with slightly more fleeter feet.
But in June 2017, it all came together for Opara in a magical moment, where he beat an offside trap from the LA Galaxy and scored an insane bicycle kick for Sporting Kansas City.
Now, to honor Opara’s ridiculous goal, Sporting KC has announced the first 10,000 fans through the gates at Children’s Mercy Park on March 31 will get a “Bike Ike” bobblehead, with him in flight kicking the ball towards goal over his shoulder.
You’ve gotta love the creativity and fun the Sporting KC marketing department is having. Hopefully, Opara can give the team another memorable goal in 2018.
Virgil Van Dijk has had a pretty decent last three months since moving to Liverpool, and the towering defender earned a new personal achievement on Thursday.
Van Dijk was named the newest captain of the Netherlands National Team, where he’ll play under former manager Ronald Koeman. Van Dijk’s first game as captain will be against the nation where he currently plies his trade, England, on Friday.
“I am very happy with it, it is a great honor to be the captain of your country,” van Dijk said at a pre-match press conference Thursday. “Everyone knows that Koeman gave me the chance at Southampton, I am very grateful to him. This is very special.”
Van Dijk’s commanding presence in the Liverpool backline and previous stops at Southampton and Celtic make him an obvious choice for captain, taking the place of the now-retired Arjen Robben. At just 26-years old, van Dijk could carry the armband for a half dozen years if he keeps up his strong form.