Seattle Sounders will close the season with another huge crowd


We’re still 10 days out from their season finale, and Seattle’s sold more than 64,000 tickets to their Oct. 27 match with the LA Galaxy. Not only is there a chance the game will break the Sounders’ attendance record, but they may not need Portland’s fans to do it.

That last bit’s important because the two largest crowds in Seattle’s history have been for Timbers games, the extra fans Portland brings north giving CenturyLink’s attendance a significant boost. The largest crowd for a non-Timbers home game was 64,140 against San Jose in 2011. For a Timbers game? Seattle drew 67,385 last August. With 10 days to get the word out, perhaps next week’s crowd can overtake that Portland number.

Seattle and Los Angeles have developed a minor rivalry, but next Sunday’s battle will be about the playoff implications. After last night’s win over Montréal, Los Angeles sits third in the West, with the Sounders’ three-game losing streak seeing the former Supporters’ Shield contenders slide to fourth.1 If the standings stay the same, next week’s match will decide which teamgoes into the four-five playoff, though both sides have a game to manage in the interim (Seattle visits Dallas this weekend; LA hosts San Jose).

Regardless, if you look at the numbers in Joshua Mayers’ post at The Seattle Times, you see that 64,000 appears to be a type of threshold. All the non-Timbers highs end up around that mark, while the current tickets sold number for the LA game is hovering at around the same level. Between the casual fans drawn to the rivalry and the army that drives north for the match, maybe there are 3,000 people who’ll go to a Seattle-Portland match who wouldn’t otherwise show up.

With so many tickets already sold for LA, Seattle has a chance to raise that bar, if not toss it aside entirely.

1 – Seattle can still win the Shield, but they’ll have to out-perform five teams to do so. The odds have suddenly become very long.

Zlatan confirms Manchester United departure

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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).

Bale breaks Wales scoring record

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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.

Sporting KC giving away creative “Bike Opara” bobblehead

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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.

Van Dijk named new Netherlands captain

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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.