Seattle Sounders

Seattle sports stars rally around Class of 2020 in viral video  

Seattle sports stars rally around Class of 2020 in viral video  

What do Walter Jones, D.J. Fluker, Christian Roldan, Stefan Frei, Matt Hasselbeck and Kenny Mayne have in common?

They are all staples in the Seattle sports community. 

But before this star-studded cast including MLS champions and Pro Football Hall of Famers found their way to the Emerald City, they each walked across the stage at their high school graduations.

They realize not many students will get the same opportunity as they did years before. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, graduations across the country have gone virtual, been postponed, or canceled altogether. 

To make sure each high school graduates' hard work doesn’t go unnoticed, the Seattle athletes put together a commencement speech of sorts for the Class of 2020. 

Take a look: 

Former Seahawks guard, now Baltimore Raven, D.J. Fluker showed sympathy for the students who were unable to celebrate this important milestone in person. 

“I know that you are hurt, confused and angry, I mean, I would be angry too,” Fluker said. “But for me to tell you guys this, to be resolute. I want you guys to take a moment and ask yourselves, 'does this define me?'" 

Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei, who won his second MLS Cup with Seattle in 2019, urged the Class of 2020 to use this time and experience to grow. 

“Please remember this time as not one of loss, but rather opportunity,” Frei said. “Opportunity to reset your life, to prepare yourself to prevent moments like what we are living through because you are the future. You hold the keys to the proverbial vehicle that will lead us into the next chapter of our lives.” 

[RELATED: Headstrong: Seattle Sounders Stefan Frei emphasizes that everyone should find their passion]

ESPN anchor, former Seahawk and Federal Way native Kenny Mayne reminded the senior class that while commencement looks a lot different this year, at least they have Tik Tok. 

“The graduating class of 1918, they didn’t even have TikTok,” Mayne said. “They didn’t have any of this technology we have now. Their graduation was pretty bad, this is way better. So, you’ve had some things stolen from you, didn’t get to finish the sports season, the prom, all sorts of other things you were all looking forward to and that’s a downer. 

“But take this time to shoot for the moon. Remember that person you were interested in like Day 3 of freshman year and you never made the play, pick up the phone. Let’s go.” 

Check out Talkin' Seahawks every week for Seattle Seahawks news, game breakdowns, and analysis, plus conversations with the most important names in Seattle. 

 

 

BREAKING: MLS suspends season due to coronavirus

usatsi_14160640.jpg
USATI

BREAKING: MLS suspends season due to coronavirus

First the NBA, and now Major League Soccer. 

MLS announced on Thursday that the league would be suspending its season due to fears surrounding the Coronavirus

The suspension will last at least 30 days. 

The full statement from the league:

Major League Soccer has suspended match play for 30 days, effective immediately, as the league continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 with its medical task force and public health officials.

At the appropriate time, the league and clubs will communicate plans for the continuation of the 2020 season and update the status of league events.

“Our clubs were united today in the decision to temporarily suspend our season – based on the advice and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), and other public health authorities, and in the best interest of our fans, players, officials and employees,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “We’d like to thank our fans for their continued support during this challenging time.”

Prior to the announcement two MLS matches had already been postponed: A match between the San Jose Earthquakes and Sporting Kansas City, and one between the Seattle Sounders and FC Dallas. Both matches were to take place on March 21st in San Jose and Seattle respectively. 

Locally, the Portland Timbers had five matches scheduled over the next 30 days, two of which were to be played at Providence. Park. 

While the Seattle Sounders had four matches scheduled, with only one to be played at home. 

There is no word yet as to how the league plans to make up these missed dates. 

We will update will more information as it comes in. 

Washington Gov. Inslee to ban gatherings of more than 250 people, sporting events impacted

usatsi_14157060.jpg
USA Today Images

Washington Gov. Inslee to ban gatherings of more than 250 people, sporting events impacted

Just days after Gov. Jay Inslee said the spread of the coronavirus could have an impact on sporting events in the state, he is expected to announce new community strategies to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in Washington State. 

According to The Seattle Times, Inslee will announce Wednesday the restriction of gatherings of more than 250 people, including sporting events, to stop the spread of COVID-19. Washington has become the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States with 267 confirmed cases in the state and 29 total fatalities, as of Tuesday night. 

Inslee has since confirmed the ban of sporting events of more than 250 people in his Wednesday morning press conference.

The ban will apply to Snohomish, King and Pierce counties, which are home to nearly 4 million people. 

Here’s a look at some of the major sporting events that could be modified or canceled: 

- The Seattle Mariners are set to begin their MLB season with a seven-game homestand on March 26. According to The Athletic’s Evan Drellich, the Mariners could host their regular-season games in Arizona if state officials in Washington decide to implement restrictions on public events. 

- The Seattle Dragons have two more games at CenturyLink Field in the 2020 XFL season on March 22 and April 11. A statement from King County shared that a part-time stadium employee at a Dragons match on Feb. 22 tested positive for COVID-19, but shared the risk to employees was low. 

- After playing two games at CenturyLink Field in early March, the Seattle Sounders will travel to Houston this week to face the Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium. Their next match in Seattle is currently set for March 21. vs. FC Dallas. Seattle saw a lower number of fans than usual in green and blue at last Saturday's 1-1 draw with Columbus Crew. MLS has already announced it will temporarily ban reporters from postgame locker rooms. 

- Spokane, Wash., is scheduled to host the first and second round of the men’s NCAA March Madness Tournament on March 19-21. On Tuesday, the NCAA said it will continue to “assess how COVID-19 impacts the conduct of our tournaments and events.” Spokane is not located in the three counties this ban applies to, and is not yet impacted. 

Here's how the coronavirus could impact sporting events in Washington, Oregon

usatsi_14048085.jpg
USA Today Images

Here's how the coronavirus could impact sporting events in Washington, Oregon

COVID-19 has hit the Pacific Northwest. 

At least 10 people from Washington State have died from what is better known as the coronavirus. Some schools and public events have closed or been cancelled amid concerns of the outbreak and further spread, and sporting events could be next. 

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee joined Seattle Morning News on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM on Thursday and acknowledged the spread of the coronavirus could have an impact on sports in the state. 

“We are starting to consider that and have been now for some period of time,” Inslee said. “So, what we are doing is evaluating the legal requirements that are involved in making a decision like that and we are socializing people to the possibility of that.”

Inslee said they have currently not made any decisions to limit public events, including sporting events, but it could be a measure the state could eventually implement. 

“It would be a hierarchy of things. The first thing would be to legally prohibit gatherings over a certain number. That can be done by the emergency powers by the governor in statute. To talk about things that are not necessary in our lives, meaning entertainment and sports and political gatherings, I suppose, that are not intrinsic to our economy or our education.”

Washington events that could be impacted

If the state did choose to shut down sporting events in Washington State, it would have an effect on a number of major sports teams. The Seattle Mariners, for example, are set to begin the MLB season with a seven-game homestand beginning on March 26. 

"Currently, we are following guidance from public health authorities and our medical staff to provide training and resources to safeguard the health and well-being of our staff and provide a safe and sanitary facility for the start of the season in four weeks,” the Mariners said in a statement. “This is an evolving situation and we’ll continue to keep fans updated by email, social media and our website."

The Seattle Dragons have three more games at CenturyLink Field this season on March 15, March 22 and April 11. Spokane, Washington is also scheduled to host the first and second-round of the men’s NCAA March Madness Tournament March 19-21.

Some basketball games around the Seattle area have already been effected. The University of Missouri-Kansas City, as well as Chicago State, announced its men’s team would not travel to Seattle University because of coronavirus concerns. 

While the Seattle Sounders are scheduled to host Columbus Crew SC on Saturday, there has been no indication that the game won’t go on as planned. The team’s MLS season opener against Chicago Fire FC continued to draw large crowds. Sounders goalie Stefan Frei was seen signing autographs and personal items for fans. 


“Sounders FC is part of both a regional task force and Major League Soccer’s task force to monitor this developing situation,” the club said in a statement. “As matters evolve and more information becomes available, we will continue to provide relevant details to the public.”

The Seattle Sounders next games at home are against Columbus Crew on March 7 and FC Dallas on March 21. 

Oregon prepares

Just 174 miles south on the I-5 corridor, the Portland Trail Blazers are also taking precautions to keep their players safe. The NBA sent out a memo to all 30 teams advising players to avoid high-fives and offer fist-bumps when interracting with fans.

Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum took to Twitter to let fans know he would not be signing autographs until further notice. 

"You just have to be careful," McCollum told NBCS Northwest. "Obviously, it’s affecting people, especially who are displaying weaker immune systems, people over 60. Wash your hands; try to reduce contact with outsiders and outside germs."

The Blazers have 19 games remaining in the regular season, including 11 at home, over the final six weeks of the season. 

“We continue to monitor the situation closely and will keep guests informed of any changes to scheduled events at Moda Center or Veterans Memorial Coliseum,” the Trail Blazers’ statement said. "We have increased the frequency of disinfecting high touchpoint areas on campus, provided additional hand sanitizing stations, switched to anti-bacterial soap and have distributed informational preventative health flyers throughout the campus."

The Portland Timbers hosted their season-opener on Sunday night against Minnesota and will play their next match on March 8 at Providence Park. The team says they will continue to monitor COVID-19 concerns. 

“The Timbers have a very robust and thorough housekeeping program in place at Providence Park," the Timbers said in a statement. "We have bolstered our efforts by installing additional hand sanitizing stations and deploying a crew to disinfect surfaces throughout every match night. We encourage fans to wash their hands frequently, and if not feeling well, please stay home. We remain in close contact with local and national health authorities and are monitoring the situation closely.”

The Moda Center will also be home to 2020 NCAA women's basketball tournament Sweet 16 and Elite Eight rounds, which will be played on March 28 and 30. The West Regional will draw fans and teams from across the country. 

Extra hand sanitizer stations and increased cleaning procedures have been implemented at the Rose Quarter to educate spectators about preventative health. 

While many sporting events in the Pacific Northwest have not been canceled, moved or postponed yet, the ramifications of the coronavirus have disrupted other areas of the world.

Club soccer in Italy will be held without spectators until at least April 3, while Switzerland suspended games until March 23 as club's refused to play in front of stadiums without fans. China's World Cup qualifying games have been moved to Thailand and the LPGA Tour canceled its events in China, Singapore and Thailand in February and March. 

Headstrong: Seattle Sounders Stefan Frei emphasizes that everyone should find their passion

Headstrong: Seattle Sounders Stefan Frei emphasizes that everyone should find their passion

The month of November is Men's Health Awareness Month. ‘The Movember Foundation’ uses November to bring awareness to various men’s physical and mental health issues, as well as support to those tackling prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and more.

Throughout this month, NBC Sports will be releasing numerous videos that feature sports superstars discussing the importance of mental health as well as how they approach the subject. Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei, who recently hoisted the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy over his head as an MLS Champion, was one such athlete that participated in the nationwide project.

The mental side of prepping as a goalie— you will have nerves, butterflies. It’s a good thing you have butterflies. It means you care, you’re engaged. Mentally, it’s not a turn on, turn off deal. It’s a constant battle. I think that’s why if you don’t deal with it properly, it can add up, and  it can destroy you if you don’t deal with it.

Frei recently shared his love for art and uses it to express himself, but also, decompress. 

“It’s always been a passion of mine, growing up. It’s always been something I’ve enjoyed doing. As a goalkeeper, I don’t get to enjoy being creative, too much.”

And while a mistake on the soccer pitch can be costly, Frei opens himself up to making mistakes on a canvas. 

“For me, art, as difficult it is to surrender, if I do make mistakes, it can actually lead to something beautiful. It’s kind of like an exploration, and there is no wrong."

Frei emphasizes that finding something you’re passionate about is paramount to a happier and healthier life.

“When you have an injury, you get treatment. But, we do so many things beforehand to prevent injuries. Mentally, there needs to be something there, as well.”

You can watch the full video above.

Social Media reacts: Seattle Sounders win the MLS Cup

usatsi_13651247.jpg
USATI

Social Media reacts: Seattle Sounders win the MLS Cup

It's time to celebrate in Seattle.

For the second time in four seasons, the Seattle Sounders have won the MLS Cup. This time in front of a franchise record 69,274 fans in the franchise's first final played at CenturyLink Field. After an ugly first half, the Sounders owned the second half to win the game 3-1. 

You can read our instant analysis here.

Let’s take you through the game and how social media reacted.

Kelvin Leerdam (57’)

To end the scoreless tie, Kelvin Leerdam’s shot ricocheted off a Toronto FC defender into the back of the net. It would have been the fourth own goal in MLS history, but the league deemed it not one. Watch below and see for yourself.

Here’s how the Seattle faithful reacted to Leerdam breaking through.

Victor Rodríguez (76’)

To break the game wide open, Rodríguez would fire a laser into the bottom right corner of the net to create a two-goal advantage.

Social media could sense the championship.

Raúl Ruidíaz (90’)

Not to be outdone, the Sounders' star would get a goal of his own to add to the sheet.

Now Seattle knew it was over. Here’s how they celebrated.

Eight things to know about Sunday's MLS Cup Final

usatsi_13591530.jpg
USATI

Eight things to know about Sunday's MLS Cup Final

The Seattle Sounders (34-16-8) will host Toronto FC (34-13-14) at CenturyLink Field at 12:00pm, with only one team leaving happy. 

Here are eight things to know ahead of the game.

  1. A Familiar Matchup

This will be the third MLS Cup in four years that’s played between the Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC. The two teams have split the series so far. Seattle upset a record-setting Toronto FC team in the first matchup, despite not registering a shot on goal. The next season, Toronto FC would get revenge winning the match 2-0. 

  1. Expect a great atmosphere

Although, this matchup of familiar foes will feature a new location: CenturyLink Field. The first two MLS cup matchups took place in Toronto, and the Seattle faithful will be hungry for another championship. The Emerald City Supporters create one of the league’s best home field advantages and this game sold out in a mere twenty minutes. It’s also expected to set a new Seattle Sounders attendance record, surpassing the previous record of 67, 385 by over 2,000 people. 

  1. Both teams were lower seeds

With the new knockout rules for the MLS postseason, it’s not surprising to see a lower seeded team in the MLS Cup. However, both Toronto and Seattle entered their conference championship games as heavy underdogs, and won. Seattle, the second seed, upset top-seeded LAFC and fourth-seeded Toronto FC upset second-seeded Atlanta FC. With just one game left, anything can happen.

  1. Can Seattle break the curse?

Remember when I told you that Seattle won an MLS Cup without a shot on goal? Well, they haven’t been the only Western Conference team to put up a poor offensive performance in the league final recently. In fact, the last time a western conference player scored a non-penalty kick goal in the MLS Cup was in 2015 when then-Portland Timbers forward Rodney Wallace scored a championship-winning goal.

  1. Will Altidore play?

Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore hasn’t suited up since injuring his quad on Decision Day, October 6th, 2019. Despite playing without him the entire postseason, his team has made the league final. The USMNT player said it would take a miracle for him to suit up but the Sounders are preparing as if he will play.

  1. Some homegrown talent

Sunday afternoon will be special for all players, but for Seattle’s homegrown talent it’ll just mean more to play in a league final in their home state. Midfielder Handwalla Bwana grew up in Seattle and forward Jordan Morris was born there before growing up in Mercer Island, WA. Morris’ ten goals is good for second on the team. 

  1. Lots of Experience

Not only have the Sounders played in three of the four previous MLS Cups, but they have made the postseason each season for the past decade. This is a club that expects to find success and will play Sunday looking for a second championship.

  1. Only one matchup between them this season

While they have played in the postseason frequently and recently, the two teams only played once in the regular season: a 3-2 Sounders victory in Seattle. Will Bruin scored two goals and Christian Roldan added one more in the victory for the Sounders. The lone scorer for Toronto was Jozy Altidore who will most likely miss the MLS Cup Final. 

 

Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson on joining Sounders ownership: 'I've always loved soccer'

Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson on joining Sounders ownership: 'I've always loved soccer'

A young Russell Wilson laced up his cleats, tucked in his jersey and stepped on the field for the first time.

No, it wasn’t football turf or infield clay below his feet. It was a soccer field—the place where Wilson fell in love with the other football for the first time.

“I’ve always loved soccer. That was actually the first sport I ever played,” Wilson said. “I played goalie. I left at goalie too much though. I was always trying to score all the time...I played attacker too.” 

Wilson's sport of choice may have changed over the years, but the Seattle Seahawks franchise quarterback is still in attack mode. Wilson and his wife, Ciara, announced this week they would become part owners of the Seattle Sounders, Seattle’s MLS franchise.

[RELATED: Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson joins Seattle Sounders ownership group]

“I’ve always wanted to be a sports owner,” Wilson said of his decision. “Always wanted to get involved in helping cultures and continuing to establish them and grow them, be around great players. I love sports. I’ve also always loved the Sounders, just going to games. I love the crowd. I love the chants they do and clapping. It’s pretty cool…It’s a legacy thing for our family too.”

Wilson said a dinner at his house, alongside Ciara, Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer, former Microsoft executive president Terry Myerson and others sparked his decision to become involved with the team.

He had also heard whispers about a California equity firm’s interest in buying the team and possible wanting to relocate it.

“I think we really care about Seattle. It’s a special place for us and we wanted to make sure it didn’t move anywhere else to be honest with you,” Wilson said. “[We] really just tried to say hey let’s keep this in Seattle,” Wilson said. “Let’s keep the Sounders in Seattle. Took a cool selfie photo and said let’s do this. We were in.”

While Wilson is “all in” on his new part ownership with Sounders FC, the All-Pro quarterback is also preparing his mind and body for his eighth NFL season.

“I have a routine that I do, I’m going through all my steps just to make sure that I’m fully ready, get your cleats right, get your mind right, get this right, this right, footwork etc,” Wilson said. “All those things that you would do on a game day, or a big championship game, make sure you’re doing those.”

Portland Timbers star striker Brian Fernández dominates Seattle, again

Portland Timbers star striker Brian Fernández dominates Seattle, again

Ambition doesn’t grow on trees.

That was the tifo the Seattle Sounders had ready for their rivals, the Portland Timbers, in front of 50,072 rave green cladded supporters at CenturyLink Field on Sunday evening. 

But in a place where victories are hard to come by, the Timbers proved to be the more ambitious team, leaving everything on the field in a heated rivalry that might just be the finest in Major League Soccer.

Argentine forward Brian Fernández had his way with the Sounders on June 12, tallying two goals in the Timbers 2-1 victory over their rivals to the North in the 2019 U.S. Open Cup. But on Sunday, Fernández proved he was hungry for more. 

Here's a look back at all the best moments of the Timbers 2-1 win over the Sounders in Seattle. 

In all started in the 19th minute when Fernández caught fire. Off a Jorge Moreira shot that hit the crossbar, Fernández buried the rebound to give Portland a 1-0 lead in the match.

The Sounders fired back with shots from Jordan Morris and Gustav Svensson in the 22nd and 40th minute, but Seattle’s offense was stifled. Portland led 1-0 at halftime.

Seattle finally got on the board in the 50th minute, when Raul Ruidiaz rounded Timbers goalie Steve Clark for the equalizer.

But in a matter of moments, 75 seconds to be exact, Ruidiaz’s game-tying goal was forgotten.

While his goal was being replayed in front of the home crowd, Brian Fernández did Brian Fernández things, notching his second goal of the night and ninth goal in the last eight games.

It’s safe to say, it’s Brian Fernández's world and we just live in it. The Timbers will now get a well-earned six days of rest before taking on the LA Galaxy next Saturday at Providence Park. 

What you need to know about the Cascadia Cup clash between the Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders

What you need to know about the Cascadia Cup clash between the Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders

The Portland Timbers are headed to enemy territory this week, as they face off against Cascadia rivals, the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field. While the head-to-head match will be the second time the two clubs have met this season, the rivalry between the Timbers and Sounders always lives up to the hype. 

Seattle enters Sunday's game sitting second place in the MLS Western Conference, and will look to cement their spot as one of the top teams in the league with a win over the Timbers. The Timbers, who currently sit four points out of a playoff spot, have an opportunity to climb up the standings with a victory in the Emerald City.  

Here's a look at what you need to know about the storied rivalry before Sunday's matchup. 

The Timbers-Sounders rivalry is real

The Sounders and Timbers have played in over 100 matches dating back to the 1970s in the now-dormant North America Soccer League. Since the Timbers entered the MLS in 2011, the two teams have met on 23 occasions.

Also, the two clubs have exchanged a lot of beef on social media over the years that you won't want to miss. 

Previous Meetings

The Timbers beat the Sounders 2-1 in the 2019 U.S. Open Cup on June 12. Timbers forward Brian Fernandez cut inside from the right wing to notch an early shot in the sixth minute. Jeremy Ebobisse found Fernandez once again in 50th minute to give Portland a 2-1 lead, which the Timbers would retain for the victory.

Portland has had a lot of success on the road against Seattle. In their last four competitive matches, the Timbers have two wins, one draw and advanced via penalties in the MLS Cup Playoffs. 

Who leads the series?

The Sounders lead the all-time, regular season series between the two clubs, 10-7-6.

Goals on goals on goals

The Timbers and Sounders have a combined 74 goals, and there has never been a scoreless draw in regular season play. In each of the last three matches, Portland has scored multiple goals. 

What the Timbers are saying

"This will definitely be a different match," Timbers defender Jorge Moreira said. "Every player likes to be part of a game like this, and we all know what it implies."

"We need to continue to get points," Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said. "We want to continue to look at how to get in the playoff zone. We're getting closer and closer. A win (Thursday) would have put us in a situation right there. So, that's why it's important for us to go (to Seattle) and get points."

What the Sounders are saying 

“I want the guys who step on the field to make sure they’re focused on Dortmund because we obviously want to put on a performance,” Sounders Head Coach Brian Schmetzer said. “Fans are paying money to watch us play. So, we need to make sure that the group that gets out there is prepared, organized and anxious to play.”

“For us, it’s a good test,” midfielder Jordy Delem said. “It’s good for us to get some minutes to show what we can do and that the coaching staff can trust us. Dortmund is a great team, so the goal is to have fun and, of course, try to win.”

[RELATED: Timbers ready for another historic match with archrival Sounders]