Top Stories

A bittersweet week in Seattle

Freddie Ljungberg ( 

Photo by Richard McEnery/



As many ups and downs as Seattle Sounders FC has endured in its second season in MLS, this week was supposed to be more upbeat.

The club's first international friendly is against Boca Juniors of Argentina tonight, and perhaps 40,000 fans will attend. Seattle has a history of drawing big numbers for these kind of games, and fans really get into foreign clubs because they respect the way the game is played in other parts of the world.

On top of that, the club is set to debut its "Electricity" third kits, uniforms even brighter then the green ones they already wear, and Sounders FC is less than a week removed from being named Sports Business Journal's Professional Sports Team of the Year.

Instead, cloudy Seattle seems even gloomier now that central defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado is likely out for the season with a torn ACL in his left knee.

Hurtado, regarded as one of the top one-on-one defenders in MLS, is a big loss to an already depleted Rave Green squad that is struggling at home, of all places. The injury list is long.

Seattle is without midfielders Brad Evans and Pete Vagenas. Speedy forward Mike Fucito has been missing because of a deep knee bruise and defensive midfielder Osvaldo Alonso has yet to regain full form. Forward Nate Jaqua is back in training but hasn't played in a game all season. 

Coach Sigi Schmid's lineup will have to be juggled again with the loss of Hurtado. Patrick Ianni, who has been playing in the midfield, could move to the back line. Or Seattle could see the debut of defender Jeff Parke this week, be it against Boca Juniors, or at Colorado on Saturday, when the team resumes its MLS schedule.

Another issue the team's lackluster play at home. No MLS team has more fan support in its home stadium, but those fans aren't being rewarded with results.

Last Saturday's 1-0 loss to San Jose was like every other Sounders loss at home in its history, except for the international friendlies and this year's Galaxy match, a 4-0 pounding. Seattle was the better team, taking more shots, controlling more possession and putting more pressure on the opposing team. But none of those scoring chances found the back of the net, and Sounders FC has now lost three games at home after dropping only two all of last season.

Frustration is mounting, not just with a lack of production despite opportunity, but with regard to forward Freddie Ljungberg, who was the target of some criticism from Schmid after the San Jose loss. Ljungberg has a history of gesticulating and being very demonstrative when it comes to officiating in matches to which he takes exception, and also when unhappy with his own team's play. Both were the case last Saturday.

"If throwing his hands up motivates him and makes him work harder, it's not an issue. But if arguing with the referee takes away from time that you could be helping the team, than it is an issue," Schmid said after the game. "As a leader, he's got that responsibility on his shoulders to help guide the team. He needs to look at it and say, hey, can I do that better? Can I be better at that, because it certainly doesn't help our team."

Schmid, however, acknowledged that the officiating lacked against San Jose. It should be noted, however, that Ljungberg, the team's designated player, and his coach appear to be at odds over Ljungberg's behavior. And Ljungberg wasn't thrilled about the team's decision to refund fans' money after a home loss to the L.A. Galaxy earlier this month.

"We're going to read in the referee's report that their goal was offsides and shouldn't have counted," Schmid said. "I'm tired of hearing that in the referee's report. I'd rather have the referee return the favor to us in the second half. Things right now are certainly not falling our way."

Sounders FC has 69 shots in the past five matches yet has gone 1-3-1 and scored only two goals. The 18 shots the club took last week tied the team record, but only three were on goal. Schmid expressed his disappointment with that, his team's sluggish play in the opening 15 minutes of the San Jose match, and also called out his team for failure to do "little things."

"You have Steve Zakuani outside with the ball for a throw-in and he had his shoulder surgically repaired so he can't really throw the ball in, yet no one comes over and says, 'Maybe I should throw the ball in for you because you have a bad shoulder'," Schmid said. "Patrick Ianni has the shortest arms on the team and they want him to throw the ball in. It's little things like that tell me you're not 100 percent in tune and that's what we've got to look at."

Sounders FC has plenty of time to fix its issues, but its depth is already being tested and neither the CONCACAF Champions League nor the U.S. Open Cup matches have started.


  1. Brad Evans misses open goal from two yards out.
    No excuse for Evans but I bet the staff allows that type of careless finishing in practice.

  2. Sounders are out playing Boca Jrs, 1-0 at half. Milan, Juventus, Jrs all going down to MLS clubs. For me these games mean more than a win in CONCACAF over Joe Public.

  3. “Freddie Ljungberg=Ballard Bitter”

    Does Redhook even make the Ballard Bitter anymore? I thought it’s called Longhammer IPA now.

  4. I hear some Kitsap Pumas are getting in the game. I would love to see Jamel Wallace especially with the injuries to the backline. They need someone to freshen it up, the way the Galaxy has placed confidence in a young defense should be a model to be followed.

  5. Jose, don’t let em get you down. We love you. Teddie Boy Eddie, that is funny.

    I might have to drink Ballard Bitter tonight at the tailgate.

  6. Good catch Tmack…my bad on that one. Forgot how they got outclassed in that Galaxy game. Clarification…all matches at home but that one and the international friendlies. I think you know the point I was trying to make though.

  7. Yeah I see the mariners fill up safeco every night. And the support for the sonics only rebounded once the team was going to leave. Seattle doesn’t support a team. They support winning teams. Everyone on here will tell you that supporters that do that are not true supporters.

  8. Being without Pete Vagenas in the midfield is a bonus, not a setback, as anyone who watched him play for years with the Galaxy can attest.

  9. “Last Saturday’s 1-0 loss to San Jose was like every other Sounders loss at home in its history, except for the international friendlies.”

    LMFAO….really??? The Flounders outplayed the Galaxy?? Those 4 goals were the product being outplayed and if the Flounders had properly finished their chances they’d have scored 5??

    This site needs those top-of-the-page disclaimers you see in magazines…”this is an advertisement”, because this article is little more than an infomercial.

  10. The last video from Sigi says more about the Sounders problems than many words do. In it Sigi blasts the players for the wrong player taking throws and free kicks. Yo Sigi, aren’t you the coach Bozo. That’s your job, you determine those choices before the game mate. Please no remarks about the players on the field decide, that’s pub ball.

  11. Seattle did not outplay San Jose at all. The Earthquakes dominated the first half, got a well deserved goal and then decided to pack it in for the last fifteen minutes. Seattle looked better in the second half, but at no point did anyone think that Seattle deserved to win that game.

  12. I don’t think many Sounder fans would agree with Pundit that Seattle saved the league. Our fan support has definitely drawn attention to the league in a positive light, at a time when other leagues are seeing huge drops in attendance. But Rory and Yankiboy are both right – the league was doing fine without Seattle and would have survived without us.

    Personally, I really don’t care whether even 5% of Sounder fans went to games back in the USL days. I supported the team back in the A-League days because that was top-flight soccer in this country. Guys like Peter Hattrup, Wade Webber, Chance Fry, Jason Farrell… all great players who got plucked away once MLS came around. If your thing is supporting minor league sports, good for you. But it doesn’t make Seattle fans any less legitimate. Seattle, for better or for worse, is a major league town (i.e. we have never supported minor league teams well). Now that the Sounders are a major league team, you see huge fan support.

    Also, TC and the rest of the Timber Army should be happy that we’re in MLS. The rivalry between the three Northwest teams, both on the field and in the stands, is great for all three teams. We’ll all benefit from the more passionate atmosphere.

  13. There’s the Seattle customer attitude we all grew to love all the way back to the USL days. Pat yourself on the back again and again and again…

  14. So … FC Dallas is going to play Inter Milan on August 5th?

    Good luck Sounders – best fans in the league BY FAR. Props

  15. It is allegorical for distance one is able to throw the ball.

    Short Arms = Throws like a girl

    As far as Ianni knowing about his short arms… I’m sure he knows he throws like a girl.

  16. has anyone else noticed that the Sounders season started sucking right after they unveiled those GAWDAWFUL electricity kits? i think it’s the electricity CURSE! please please please Sounders ditch those ugly kits…

  17. Please. Seattle is a very nice story but lets back away from the Rave Green kool-aid.

    You are seriously overstating the Impact that Seattle has had on MLS.

    Great story. Exciting story. Fascinating story. But some of the Seattle FO, supporters and MLS fans nees to stop with the “Sounders are God’s gift and we are the ‘saviors’ of American club soccer” routine.

    Seattle was a sweet USL1 market and I am thrilled by their success. It just kills me that a lot of the people who are celebrating the golden green age never went to a Sounders USL1 match. The hardcore in Seattle have always brought it.

  18. Right… the league wouldn’t have survived had it not been for Seattle. That’s why Portland and Vancouver were already scheduled to come into the league and Montreal was knocking on the door before you kicked your first kick.

    Grow up Seattle fans, the MLS was around before you and it’ll still be around once your crowds start dwindling.

  19. It’s hard to believe they found something that makes the Rave Green look (and sound) less appauling.

    I guess the sophomore slump has hit Seattle. Any word if the plastic pitch has some blame in the Hurtado injury?

  20. As a Seattle supporter, all I can say is it’s time for our boys to nut up and stop complaining, get a little Don Revie in ’em, and start finishing chances and fouling the opposing team. 3 goals in 69 shots is absolutely pathetic.

    I want players who receive the ball at their feet and immediately turn towards goal. COYS, get a little vicious!

  21. Before the Sounders joined MLS, the league was on pace to join the likes of the XFL and USFL in “sports league graveyard”.

    It can’t be stated enough times the impact the Seattle Sounders have had on MLS.

  22. “Bittersweet”?!?! Sounderfans, welcome to the ups & downs of the soccer trade.

    Sorry about Hurtado. Hope that he makes a full recover and gets back next season.

    The act of both of the guys name Fred who play for the Sounders is more than a bit old.


Leave a Comment