Last night...

Well, that sucked.
The Sounders put in a great performance last night only to fall short by 1 goal and were eliminated from the 2011 MLS Playoffs.  It's a hard pill to swallow since the team put dug themselves into such a deep hole leading up to the 2nd leg.  Who knew a Nick Grabavoy goal and a Tony Beltran save off the line would be the ultimate differences in this series?

I would like to say a sincere thank you to the entire Sounders FC organization.  I cannot imagine my season tickets being more worth the tremendous season that I got to experience first hand. 

Onwards and upwards though as it were.  Lots to do in a short offseason for the club:

- Re-sign Mauro Rosales
- Expansion draft protection list
- Fill 3rd DP slot (if not Rosales?)
- 2012 MLS Superdraft
- Prep for CCL Quarterfinals

My protected 11?
- Steve Zakuani
- Fredy Montero
- Alvaro Fernandez
- Mauro Rosales
- Osvaldo Alonso
- Jeff Parke
- Jhon Kennedy Hurtado
- Mike Fucito
- Sammy Ochoa
- Erik Friburg
- Roger Levesque


Today of all days...

It's been almost 6 months since my last post in this space. Between getting married, buying a house and work, it's been near impossible to sit still much less to sit down and write. However, today of all days I wanted to say something. 

Last Saturday, my beloved Sounders FC dug themselves one hell of a hole. As it stands, we are down 3 goals to a gritty, championship caliber opponent with 90 minutes to play. Our heroes have quite the task ahead of them.

However, before we can get the three goals back, we only need one thing- the first one. Once that first goal goes in, all bets are off. All logic will shrivel by the wayside and doubt itself...after that first goal, our "chance" becomes attainable, realistic even.

After that first goal, (with all due respect to them) doubt will climb into the minds of the RSL players as quickly as the confidence will flow throughout the Sounders. The 36,000+ in attendance will become louder and louder...and will start to sense that maybe...just...maybe, we are on the precipice of something great.

One goal...that's the beginning. I'm not saying that one goal will guarantee victory. And no, I'm not saying anything truly logical here. But, I feel that one goal is all we truly need tonight. After one goal- all bets are off.

Go get 'em fellas. I'll be there doing my best to will you to victory tonight.


At the halfway point, how full or empty is your glass?

We, Sounders supporters, have had our share of frustrations, even anger, in the first half of the 2011 MLS season.  Two 1-nil losses to LA and NY to start the season, two Cascadia derby home draws (albeit the Whitecaps one felt better), and of course, the Brian Mullan tackle in Colorado that took out a great player and young man for the season.  To put it mildly, neither the season or club has lived up to expectations.

Supporters I have talked to at pubs, read on Twitter or their blogs naturally have opinions that range from "Fire Sigi!" and "Cut Flaco" to "Church of Fucito" and "Montero is this team's future."  All of those sentiments have their place and merit.  Afterall, everyone is entitled to their opinion.  However, I am attempting to stay steadfastly calm through what feels like the most tumultous period in the Sounders brief MLS history.  However, I think it's healthy to make an honest assessment at this point.  Let's be frank then-

Alvaro "El Flaco" Fernandez has been inconsistent. 

Montero has 3 goals and 6 assists- our most productive (statistically) offensive player this year.

Zakuani's injury changed the entire team's formation and offensive dynamic.  

Mauro Rosales has been a very, very positive signing by the front office.

Kasey Keller has been excellent.

The defense is improved from last year overall (15 goals against this year, 24 through 17 matches last year).

We have 25 points through 17 matches- 6 better than last year at this point in the season.

All in all, it's safe to say that the club has been inconsistent.  I know that's not an Earth shattering assessment, but I think it's unwise to not have patience- with Sigi, the front office and most of all, the club.  However, as some of the bullets above show progress is being made and the team is in a far better place than last year's version at this point in the season.

Sure, the transfer rumors continue to swirl.  Supporters are looking for a savior.  However, I would like to remind everyone of a key moment and turning point in last year's campaign that rings very familiar to this past weekend.

Last year in the Sounders' 17th match of the season, Roger Levesque scored an 89th minute winner against a lowly away opponent (D.C. United).  Just when so many of us were expecting a draw, the Sounders stole 3 points.  That sentiment is very much how I felt sitting at home watching the Toronto match this past Saturday....a lowly opponent, but the guys found a way to steal 3 points (Montero's brilliant free kick).  Here's to progress and trends (like the run we made last season in the second half) continuing for the Rave Green.



Turning the big 3-0

I turn thirty years old this coming Thursday.  Being that I usally can be pensive about such milestones, I sat down and jotted down a few lessons learned in my first three decades.  It's not that I think anyone really can learn from my own personal lessons, but I really like writing in this space. In fact, one of my goals for my next 30 years, is to get more time to do just that. 

Lessons learned so far…
- Be yourself. Know yourself because...

- Self-awareness is irreplaceable.

- Friends are important. Family is MORE important and will always be there for you.

- Few things are more valuable than learning about and visiting new places.

- Love is grand.

- Arygle is badass.

- Patience IS a virtue.

- Stopping to smell the roses really can be nice…and healthy.

- Physical fitness is a must.

- That being said, bacon and cheese are the most delicious things in the world.

- Pride is good—to a certain extent.

- Having the ability to compromise is one of the most valuable skills to have in life.

- More reading encouraged…of actual books.

- I heart technology. And soccer.


Twas the night before First Kick...

Today, I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve. (Truth by told, I still feel extremely anxious to open presents even now as a near 30-year old "adult".) Regardless, the reason I feel so giddy with excitement is that the Major League Soccer season kicks off with my beloved Seattle Sounders FC versus the Los Angeles Galaxy tomorrow evening at 6:30 PST (on ESPN).

2011 is set to be a banner year for MLS. Here are a few storylines to know and follow throughout the season:

- PAC NW RIVALRIES: The league welcomes two expansion franchises to the Pacific Northwest soccer hotbed, Vancouver and Portscum Portland. Along with the Sounders, these three clubs will instantly have the best, most intense rivalry in professional U.S. soccer.  The Whitecaps have mostly built for the future (sans their stellar and USMNT centerback, Jay DeMerit).  However, Portland has honestly done a pretty nice job of mixing youth and experience.  As much as it pains me to say it, Portland should be the better of the two clubs overall.  Regardless, I would not expect either club to compete seriously for a playoff spot. Meanwhile, the Sounders have kept their core unit intact from consecutive postseason berths and look to push for more in year 3.

- BECKHAM'S LAST HURRAH? This is the last year on David Beckham's current MLS contract. There is little reason to think he'll stay stateside after this year and the Galaxy know that.  That is why they have loaded up more than ever this season.  Newly minted designated player, Juan Pablo Angel, leads their stellar frontline (along with USMNT hero Landon Donovan and Beckham) and their backline may be the best in the league.  On paper they appear more talented than the team that won the Supporter's Shield last season.  Time will tell if they can go beyond that success and actually go the distance in the MLS Cup playoffs.

- NEW STADIUMS: Two new soccer-specific stadiums will open this season in MLS: Livestrong Sporting Park (Sporting Kansas City) and PGE Park (Portland).  These two beautiful grounds add to the growing list of soccer-specific stadiums and signal that soccer and MLS continues to grow in this country.

- PLAYOFF FORMAT CHANGE: MLS Commissioner, Don Garber, recently announced that the 2011 MLS playoffs would include 10 clubs.  This would include the top 3 from both the Eastern and Western Conferences along with the next four regardless of conference affiliation as Wild Card teams.  In one way, this dilutes playoffs with having more than half of the available teams qualify for the postseason (much like the NBA or NHL).  However, this should keep more teams "in the hunt" longer and make the regular season stretch run more competitive. 

Now, that you are all caught up...here is my attempt to throw my hat in the MLS season prediction "ring"... (Sounders' fan disclaimer- I have kept these as neutral as possible)

(*- denotes playoff team; **- denotes Supporter's Shield)

Eastern Conference
1. New York Red Bulls*
2. Sporting Kansas City*
3. Houston Dynamo*
4. D.C. United*
5. Philadelphia Union
6. Chicago Fire
7. New England Revolution
8. Toronto FC
9. Columbus Crew

Western Conference
1. Real Salt Lake**
2. Los Angeles Galaxy*
3. Seattle Sounders FC*
4. FC Dallas*
5. Colorado Rapids*
6. San Jose Earthquakes*

7. Portland Timbers
8. Chivas USA
9. Vancouver Whitecaps

Regular Season MVP: Landon Donovan, LA Galaxy
Rookie of the Year: Darlington Nagbe, Portland
Comback Player of the Year: Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Seattle
Newcomer of the Year: Jan Gunnar Solli, New York Red Bulls
Defender of the Year: Omar Gonzalez, LA Galaxy
Goalkeeper of the Year: Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake

Eastern Conference Champion: New York Red Bulls
Western Conference Champion: Real Salt Lake

MLS Cup winner: Real Salt Lake

On a personal note, I am still a few months away from keeping this space up on the regular basis that I desire.  However, I am going to do my best to post as much as possible until then....


You're welcome, NFL. Regards, U.S. Soccer

As I have sat through the NFL playoffs, I have enjoyed one thing just a little bit more than most other fans.  That one thing has been the Super Bowl commericals showing fan reactions to pivotal plays from the last two Super Bowls.  Why do I enjoy it so much?  It's because the first time I saw one of the commercials I was instantly reminded of Landon Donovan.  Why do you ask?  Oh...because of this little diddy:

The World's Reaction to Landon Donovan's Goal

The Donovan World Cup compliation was put together shortly after that unforgettable Algeria match and now has over 3 million views.  The fact that the NFL may or may not have copied that format is really of no consequence.  However, it urges me to go back and view the Donovan clip and enjoy it all over again.  And if the NFL really did plagarize a bit, it's quite flattering isn't it? 

Go...go...USA. :-)


Reasons to smile (if you're a USMNT supporter)

This past Saturday evening saw a very inexperienced (in terms of international experience) USMNT side draw even with a B-side Chilean national team, 1-1.  The match was choppy, mostly unorganized and not exactly easy on the eyes.  However, I think Coach Sweatpants got a great chance to evaluate lots of young and fringe national team talent- and that was point right? 

The result didn't matter and if you think it should have or did, you're missing the point.  Yes, there were glaring holes in the 2nd half backline and the boys played long ball almost all night (frustrating).  However, there were many positive to take away. 

Bradley set the table for Gold Cup support roles with this January camp.  Teal Bunbury (Boon-Boo-Ree!) and Juan Agudelo impressed (I'll get to these two in a minute) as well as Zach Lloyd and Dax McCarty (wonder if Portland is second guessing the decision to trade him).  It was also pointed out by The Shin Guardian on Twitter during the match that Tim Ream was taking charge of the backline in the first half.  Hearing about that type of leadership from a young centerback is phenomenal.  Additionally, I know that Mix Diskerud got some mixed reviews, but I really have been impressed with the young attacking mid in his two appearances with the national team.  His touch and creativity seem destined to be a USMNT mainstay for years to come.

Now about those two strikers, Agudelo and Bunbury.  They absolutely changed the match when they came on in the second half.  Both were active and showed great chemistry in the final third.  There is a reason that Red Bull New York was ok with letting Juan Pablo Angel go this winter.  Something tells me that Agudelo is going to make that front office look like geniuses this season.  As for Bunbury, it just seems like he has something different in terms of swagger when he's on the pitch.  After the World Cup and all the talk about how the USMNT lacks options up top outside of Jozy, Bunbury and Agudelo brought a smile to face on Saturday.  Things continue to look up for the Yanks.


Random Friday Notes

Here are a few thoughts as we head into the weekend:

- It was finally made official today, the Cascadia MLS clubs (Seattle, Vancouver and Portland) will play each other in a preseason round robin format during a supporters "summit" March 4-6.  Some are disappointed that the first time these sides meet as MLS combatants will not essentially count for anything.  Some are disappointed about the relatively low amount of tickets available to fans not apart of supporters' groups.  However, overall most are just READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL.  I'm very excited just to see the Sounders back on the pitch.  It's been a solid offseason for the club and I look forward to seeing the likes of Erik Freiburg and Michael Tetteh join the rest of the boys as soon as possible.

- Why are people getting impatient with the Luis Suarez/Liverpool dance going on right now?  Obviously it would be a great addition to Anfield, but I have but one word to my fellow Reds' supporters on the new management's transfer tactics- PATIENCE.  John Henry will get this right...soooner than you think.  YNWA

- I really like the fact that the Browns hired Dick Jauron today as their new defensive coordinator.  He's got legit pedigree as a defensive stud of a coach.  Holmgren continues to restore pride amongst the Cleveland football faithful.

- Just as I was typing a blurb about how I feel like the Gareth Bale hype may have gotten ahead of itself this past fall- the Welsh international fires a cross into the box to Rafael Van Der Vaart on the Spurs-United replay on FSC that is sublime.  Utterly sublime.  Nevermind that thought. 

- If you have a sense of humor, are a soccer fan and aren't listening to Winning Ugly- you are WRONG.  I have no connection to this wonderment of soccer-based humor podcast whatsoever, but it's awesome.  Check it out if you haven't already.

And with that- have a great weekend.


What did I miss? and LFC accountability

It's been a while and a LOT has happened since I last wrote in this space.  Here's a quick rundown of what I haven't wrote about:

- I got ENGAGED.
- Sounders bowed out of the MLS playoffs to the silly Galaxy.
- Winning Ugly broadcast its epic 100th episode (and it was....EPIC)
- Mid-term elections
- The ENTIRE NFL season

Now that we're all caught up on the pertinent details, I have a few things on my mind.  However, I'm only going to touch on one at the moment...

To say that my beloved Liverpool Football Club have struggled during the current Premiership campaign is to put it lightly.  The new owners sacked Roy Hodgson and hired a Reds legend, Kenny Dalglish, to be a "temporary" manager and lead the team to its former glory.  However, since King Kenny has taken the reigns (albeit it's only been two matches), LFC has yet to get a victory.  Sunday marks yet another edition of the wonderful Merseyside derby between LFC and Everton at Anfield. 

As all Liverpool supporters, I can't wait for this match and hope to the Spirit of Shankly that the Reds get all three points this weekend.  However, if they don't, we all need to take a hard look at something as supporters of this club.  Last season, Rafa was blamed for a spotty transfer record and not getting the most out of the players last season.  The former owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, were also the subject of us supporters for putting the club in tremendous financial hole during their tenure.  So the club finished sixth last season and we looked for a fresh start under Roy Hodgson.  The 2009-10 season started with a sputter and we all blamed the ownership crisis.  New England Sports Ventures thankfully took over and the ship was back on course, right?  Unfortunately, Roy's tenure was mired with horrid road form and calls for his head a few months after the ownership change.  The new owners succumbed to these calls and replaced Hodgson swiftly last week.

It has been a tumultuous 18 months for Liverpool Football Club.  However, with all the change, there has only been two consistent pieces of the club during this timeframe- poor/inconsistent results and the PLAYERS.  If the club can't get up its crosstown rival missing two of its best players (Cahill and Jagielka) and a third with more than one foot out the door (Pienaar) on Sunday- who do we point fingers at?  King Kenny?  I don't think so...all I want- all any of us want is a full 90 minute effort of organized football from our beloved Reds.  At what point do professional soccer players take it upon themselves and have pride in what they do out on the pitch?  I have seen it during the last 18 months, but only glimpses and at best, in spurts.  At what point does a world class striker like Fernando Torres just take it upon himself to put the club on his back and will a much needed victory? 

I dare say that if Nando and any LFC player not named Reina don't turn in a spirited effort on Sunday, we have run the well dry on whom to hold accountable at Anfield.  YNWA


Nights like last night...

Nights like last night's 0-2 Sounders defeat at Saprissa are so hard. 

For the first 35 or so minutes of the match, I sat here in my living room with a confident smirk on my face.  The Rave Green were having their way with the Costa Ricans and a goal felt imminent.  Then, Leo kicked through a loose ball and his cleats ran into an opposing player.  Intentional or not...warranted or not, that single moment all but effectively ended the Seattle Sounders run in the 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League.   

It was a harsh turn of events for all of those that bleed Raven Green.  Lucky for all of us, we still have so much yet to play for this season.  With the U.S. Open Cup FINAL at Qwest Field on October 5th and the MLS playoffs beckoning, the stretch run is just beginning.  Some other thoughts:

- I am really looking forward to getting Blaise back on the pitch for our offense.  After Leo's red card last night, his presence still wouldn't have mattered.  However, we need the big Swiss striker to hold the ball up this weekend against a stout Columbus Crew.

- Another tactical change that Sigi seemed to allude to last night was his inclusion of El Flaco into central midfield.  It was interesting especially considering that down a man, I thought a defensive minded Nate Sturgis was surely meant to stay in the match until the end.  However, El Flaco was inserted for Sturgis to create an offensive spark.  His influence and class certainly gave the Sounders a glimmer of hope last night despite being down a man for 50+ minutes.  I would love to see a midfield that looks like this come Saturday: Zakuani, Alonso, Flaco, and Nyassi. 

- I heart Ossie Alonso and his PK attempt last night was well taken.  However, after Fredy Montero was fouled to cause the PK, I was shocked to see Ossie be the one to step up and take the shot.  Fredy was given the armband last night as a sign of his maturing leadership on the team.  Now, I wonder who emphatically a Montero PK conversion would have even furthered that leadership on the team. 
On a totally unrelated Sounders note- check this video out: Dying Bravely.  It's going to tug at your heartstrings if you are any kind of a USMNT supporter.  Until next time...



Thoughts from last night: SSFC v. RSL

Before I head to work on this cloudy Friday- a few thoughts on last nights' SSFC v. RSL match:

- Was it just me or did Ozzie Alonso and Kyle Beckerman completely dominate this match?  Those two were absolutely all over their opposition and imposed their will on this match from the beginning.  Sans Keller's beautiful save on Robbie Findley's horrid PK- Alonso and Beckerman were the main reason why this ended up being a scoreless draw.

- About that Findley PK: Definitely a deserved PK due to Parke's trip, but didn't the ball go out of bounds just before that?  The play was on the opposite side of the field from where I was sitting, but I coulda swore...and as I tweeted yesterday- I really hope that Bob Bradley was watching last night.  Here's to Robbie Findley never being called up for the USMNT ever again.  Cheers!

- The Sounders attack seemed more than a bit disjointed last night.  Is fatigue starting to set after a pretty congested schedule over the last month?  Or is this just a bump in the road?  I personally feel that it's not a coincidence that our attacking struggles the last couple matches mirror Blaise N'kufo being out with an injury.  Many of my fellow supporters have been somewhat critical of the Swiss striker due to a lack of Swiss-based goals up to this point.  However, it became more clear to me last night why he's so critical to our attack.  Jaqua did a pretty decent job last night being that the target man.  However, he wasn't able to hold the ball up nearly as effectively as Blaise has been doing the last month or so.  Blaise's physical presence and ability to hold the ball at the top of the 18 has opened up so much for the team offensively.  I wonder if the result would've been better against the stingy RSL defense if Blaise would've been available for the tie.

- Considering RSL is (in my opinion) the class of the MLS right now and we definitely were off from an offensive perspective last night...I'll take a draw.  It was the right result and not an entirely terrible one.
One more thing...many of you read that one of the Sounders Pac NW soccer neighbors, the Portland Timbers, put up a billboard promoting their 2011 inagural season just a few minutes south of Qwest.  This has certainly stoked the rivalry to another level, but I'm certainly not upset about it.  As a fan of the game, I welcome it.  Next year's inclusion of the Whitecaps and Timbers will bring a TRUE soccer rivalry to MLS for the first time.  It's a great thing for the sport in this country. 

And as a Sounders supporter, I welcome it as well.  Bring it on Portland.  I have full confidence that we'll do our talking on the pitch next year.



My favorite season.

I love the fall. 

Cooler weather, the Pacific NW rain starts up again (which I actually enjoy) and plenty of sports to follow make it my favorite season of the year.  Here are four reasons that reaffirm my feelings:

- European soccer leagues are in full swing.
- MLS playoff push on full force.
- MLB pennant races are starting to take shape.
- College and NFL football kicks off their respective seasons.

This weekend is the unofficial beginning for my favorite season.  It is no coincidence that this sentiment is directly tied to the beginning of the 2010 NFL season.  Tomorrow night the Saints and Vikings kick off yet another season of America's new pasttime.  My Browns open the season away to the Tampa Bay Bucs.  Both teams are in full rebuilding mode as they start 2010.  The Bucs continue to bank on their second year QB, Josh Freeman, to lead them to something more than 4 wins this year.  While the Browns new era is led by someone that is quite revered here in the Pac NW, Mike Holmgren.  New QB, Jake Delhomme, had a pretty decent preseason, but the jury is definitely out on whether or not that can translate into regular season success.  Either way, the Browns have more talent (rare) and I feel are the better team in this matchup.  Plus, how can a true fan not open the season riding a wave that sort of resembles optimism.

PREDICTION: Browns 23, Bucs 13

The Premier League gets back to business after a break that allowed some Euro 2012 qualifiers to be played and some local English teams to get supported (click on this link- its a great read).  Liverpool are away to transfer window dynamos Birmingham City (8 a.m. PST on FSC).  My favorite Merseysiders scraped by against EPL new boys, West Brom two weekends ago and recently lost Dutch goal-scorer, Dirk Kuyt to a shoulder injury while he was away on national team duty.  It definitely has not been a great start to the campaign for the Reds.  I'd like to be encouraged by Roy Hodgson's transfer window signings, but only one thing truly has me encouraged about the Reds' chances on this particular weekend- the Spainard dubbed El Nino.  Fernando Torres scored a brace for Spain last week and that could only mean good thing for Liverpool.

PREDICTION: Liverpool 2, Birmingham 1

My beloved Rave Green are set to entertain the reigning MLS champions, Real Salt Lake tomorrow night.  RSL is probably the best club in the league right now (this FC Dallas hype is really getting out of hand).  However, the Sounders definitely have a chip on their shoulders coming off a sobering and unexpected loss to New England over the weekend.  All I know is that I cannot WAIT to be with 36,000 of my closest friends tomorrow night signing and chanting my heart out.  I want to say that we'd be cheering our club to victory, but I'm not entirely sure with RSL's form at the moment.

PREDICTION: Sounders 2, RSL 2

And finally, the Ohio State Buckeyes host the Hurricanes of Miami University on Saturday.  This is a "re-match" of the 2003 National Championship game in which most pundits feel a pass interference call decided the winner of that game.  Let us not forget that those teams played a full overtime period to decide that game after that famous pass interference call (and Ohio State was victimized earlier in the fourth quarter by an incorrect out of bounds call on a 3rd and long pass play)...but let's focus on the here and now for a second.  The quarterbacks in this game, Terrell Pryor and Jacory Harris, are tremendously talented and are coming off great starts to their 2010 campaigns last week (both around 250 yards and 3 TDs).  While the media and most people are focused on that individual matchup- this game will be decided by which defense plays better.  I feel that my Buckeyes definitely have the BETTER defense...and may actually have the FASTER defense in this game.

PREDICTION: Ohio State 31, Miam 24 (no OTs needed this time)

Enjoy the weekend everyone...and DTRT. 


In a row?

That's right Sounders fans...our beloved Rave Green Army has given us a second FINAL in as many MLS years of existence.

Thanks to SoundersFC.com for the pic.

I was uber-excited about watching Wednesday night's match for a couple reasons: 1) it was the USOC semi-final and 2) I was hooking up my new laptop to my TV HDMI style for the first time to watch the match.  Here are some quick hitting observations that stood out to me during the match:

- FINALLY!  We scored a goal against Chivas USA as an MLS franchise.  It only took us about 370+ minutes, but it finally happened off the boot of Nate "New Mr. Open Cup" Jaqua.
- More on Nate- dude added his fifth goal of this year's competition (3 matches) later on in stoppage time and it fast helping ease the pain of watching our U.S. Open Cup hero of yesteryear, Seba LeToux, score all those goals for the Union this year.   
- Ozzie Alonso is the best defensive midfielder in MLS.  I have had a serious man-crush on #6 for a while and Wednesday night only strenghtened...well, you get the point.  His vision to get the ball to Zakuani on the second goal by Fredy Montero was a thing of beauty and something (I feel) that didn't get appreciated enough at the time.  Ozzie (on the whole) still doesn't get as much appreciation as he deserves.  Say what you will about the Ljungberg effect or Montero's hot streak, but Alonso's influence on this run of grand Sounder form cannot be underestimated.
- As for Fredy, dude was right up with Alonso as the best player on the pitch against the Goats.  He was dangerous and continually one step ahead of the Chivas defenders (and sometimes his teammates). 

The Sounders are at New England for this weekend's fixture.  Sigi and the guys have already taken care of business against the Revs once this year...let's hope that we do it again.  We sit on 32 points right now in the league table and probably will need at least 42 or 43 to get into the playoffs yet.  There are definitely three points for the taking this weekend...I see the Sounders taking them all.