Seattle Sounders

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

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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

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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]

Timbers ready for another historic match with archrival Sounders

Timbers ready for another historic match with archrival Sounders

Portland - It was a rough night for the Timbers on Thursday at Providence Park. Portland played host to an Orlando City team that seemed ripe for the picking. The result, however, wasn't good... but it wasn't necessarily bad either.

Portland and Orlando played to a 1-1 draw, and while one point is better than none, Portland knows it left points on the table.

The Timbers held possession for 63.3% of the match, outdueled Orlando 54-43, had 8 corners to Orlando's 3, and most impressively had 26 total shots to Orlando's two. Everything about the stat sheet says the Timbers should have grabbed a full three points. Everything except the final score.

Fortunately for the Timbers, there is no time to sit and let this one stew. Portland has a short turnaround, and a short drive up I-5, before a Sunday night showdown with Cascadia Cup rivals the Seattle Sounders.

Seattle, currently the second-best team in the Western Conference, will undoubtedly have revenge on the mind. Last month's U.S. Open Cup loss to Portland is still a fresh wound, but it's the penalty kick loss to the Timbers in last year's playoffs that has left the lasting scar.

Portland head coach Gio Savarese said of the match, "it was a special night. A special night for sure... Unbelievable game. They played very well. We played very well. I thought it was one of the best matches in MLS history."

Ask any MLS fan not from Seattle and they would probably agree. Not just because of the way the game played out, but because of the story that connected the two teams playing in it. It's a rivalry that dates back to the 1970s. A rivalry that has survived multiple leagues to become the premier rivalry in Major League Soccer. 100 plus matches have been played between the two, and there is certainly no love lost.

Sounders vs Timbers is the MLS version of Michigan vs Ohio State. Duke vs North Carolina. Red Sox vs Yankees. It's that big.

"These are easy to get up for. They're fun. They're a battle," said Zarek Valentin. "The fans don't like each other and it's the best rivalry, in my opinion, in the league."

With a rivalry this large, it can be easy for players to lose track. To focus more on the rivalry and the fanfare rather than the action on the pitch. However, Savarese doesn't worry about his players wavering.

"These matches, I think there's the right level of emotion. The players get ready to play their own way, so we don't need to do much (as coaches) because they know what it represents."

Added Jeremy Ebobisse, "a lot of us have played in Seattle before. We know how their team rallies behind their fans and how much energy they have, similar to us at home. We're used to going to places and playing foil."

Playing foil on the road in Seattle may be easier said than done. During the MLS era (2011-), Portland is just 1-7-3 in regular-season matches against the Sounders in Seattle. The lone victory coming June 30, 2018.

But the last time Portland stepped foot on the CenturyLink pitch was the aforementioned playoff game where they ended the Sounders season. In a place victories are hard to come by the Timbers picked one up.

"That just adds to the rivalry," said Valentin. "They don't like us, we don't like them. We got to go there and get a result."

 

 

Own goal topples the Timbers

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usa today

Own goal topples the Timbers

The Timbers controlled the Sounders on Sunday, but when the final whistle blew they were left staring at a 1-0 deficit and another tough loss.

But this loss stung a little more than the three that proceeded it - not only did they lose to their rival, it was an own goal that did them in.

 

Seattle’s attack never really came close to doing damage, but in the 76th minute a shot attempt deflected off Timbers defender Julio Cascante and gave goalkeeper Jeff Attinella no chance as he watched it find the back of the net.

 

“They took advantage of one moment and then they changed the game when it was in our hands,” coach Gio Savarese said of the Sounders. “We had it. We were completely dominating this match. They were working very hard, we had them all over the place. Yes, credit to them, they defended well, but they created nothing until the moment they scored the goal.”

 

Saverese isn’t wrong. The Timbers outshot the Sounders 22-6, had nine corner kicks to the Sounders two, and had possession for 55.1% of the match. But as we all know stats don’t win games, the final score does. On this night, even in a dominant showing, the Timbers took the loss.

 

However, the game wasn’t a total loss thanks to Liam Ridgewell. Ridgewell, who hadn’t played since suffering a quad injury against LAFC on May 19, made his return to the pitch to a thunderous roar from the Timbers Army. 

 

“It was nice to be back out there and playing, trying to give my all for the team to try and get them back to winning ways after a disappointing week we’ve had. Good times are ahead still, it’s not all doom and gloom,” Ridgewell said.

 

The Timbers will have a chance to get back to those winning ways on Wednesday when they host Toronto FC. Kickoff is set for 7:30PM at Providence Park.

 

Timbers draw Sounders 2-2 in Cascadia rivalry match

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USA Today Sports Images

Timbers draw Sounders 2-2 in Cascadia rivalry match

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers drew 2-2 with Seattle Sounders FC Sunday evening at Providence Park in front of a sellout crowd of 21,144. Portland forward Fanendo Adi scored his 50th career goal for the Timbers with a penalty while midfielder Dairon Asprilla headed in a goal late in the first half.

Match Moments

11' - CHANCE (POR) - Following a strong defensive stop on a Seattle free kick in the Portland end, the Timbers came out on a blistering counter attack. Midfielder Diego Chara fed forward Adi in the box and his close range effort was kicked aside by Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei.

18' - STOP (POR) - Seattle's Brad Evans dribbled to the Portland end line before crossing it back to forward Jordan Morris near the top of the six yard box. But defender Alvas Powell provided a a timely interception to kick the ball free. Powell adeptly then headed away a follow-up shot.

27' - GOAL (SEA) - Seattle's Joevin Jones dribbled in from the left hand side and shot a low drive on frame that Portland goalkeeper Jake Gleeson initially made a strong save on. However, Jones then collected his own rebound and scored. Seattle led 1-0.

36' - CHANCE (POR) - Portland kept up the pressure and after working the ball around the edge of the area, Chara lofted in a cross towards the left post that Asprilla leapt high to head off the top of the cross bar.

44' and 45' - RED CARD (SEA) and GOAL (POR) - Following some strong play in the Seattle box, midfielder Darlington Nagbe found himself with the ball at his feet in front of goal. Seattle's Evans tried to stop him but ended up tangling legs and pulling him down. Referee Ricardo Salazar immediately pointed to the spot for a penalty kick and gave Evans a straight red card for the foul leaving Seattle at 10 men for the remainder of the match. Portland striker Fanendo Adi stepped to the spot and converted with authority past Frei to tie the game at 1-1. It was also Adi's team-leading 50th career goal for Portland.

45+4' - GOAL (POR) - Following an errant back pass from the Seattle defense that resulted in a corner kick for Portland, Asprilla scored with a spectacular header via David Guzmán's pinpoint service. Timbers led 2-1 heading into the half.

68' - CHANCE (POR) - On a botched Seattle throw-in back to keeper Frei, defender Román Torres casually went to retrieve it. Portland's Diego Valeri alertly pounced on the ball and nearly scored but the ball went just wide of the right post.

73' - SAVE (POR) - Seattle's Nicolás Lodeiro teed a up a knuckling shot from distance that Gleeson got low to parry away. The Portland goalkeeper then caught the ensuing corner.

90+4' - GOAL (POR) - In a last chance run, Seattle's Torres crossed a ball into the area that Sounders forward Clint Dempsey headed past Gleeson to tie the game at 2-2.

The Portland Timbers return to the road next Saturday to play Sporting Kansas City at Children's Mercy Park on July 1

Portland Timbers – Looking back on the loss in Seattle

Portland Timbers – Looking back on the loss in Seattle

By  

The Timbers-Sounders rivalry, which kicked off on May 2, 1975, represents an aspect of American soccer culture that is unmatched in the U.S. 42 years of history. 42 years of American soccer. This past weekend Portland made the trek north, for a road match that had much more than just three points on the line.

The Portland Timbers have two wins on the road this year. Unfortunately, one of those did not occur in the unfriendly confines of Century Link Field in Seattle. Away losses were the Achilles’ heel of last year’s Timbers. And with midfielder Diego Chara out due to a red card suspension, they were not playing at full strength. But still, they came out strong and confident from the opening kickoff. They looked great until Nicolás Lodeiro’s shot off a quick throw in. You probably remember that shot. The shot that led to Jake Gleeson’s “Save of the Week”-caliber diving effort.

Less than three minutes into the match, while Seattle was preparing to take their first corner of the game (which resulted in the Sounders goal), Fox Sports announcer John Strong said of Gleeson: “He’s been forced into more saves per 90 minutes than any goalkeeper since the beginning of last year.” Things that make you go hmmm.

And then came the goal.

After the goal, the game became a bit more balanced. Although for the most part, Portland did seem to keep possession and control the overall pace of the game throughout the first half. But the Timbers didn’t seem dangerous for most of that time. In fact, I believe it wasn’t until the 25th minute before fans heard the name Diego Valeri on the national television broadcast. Again, I have to point to the absence of Chara. Without Chara on the field, the Sounders knew they were much less likely to get punished for focusing on limiting the chances of Valeri.

Portland’s keeper handles more stress than any other keeper in the league? That’s a pretty disturbing idea. Also disturbing is that the Timbers have not scored a goal off of a corner kick this season. They are one of only five teams that can say that. That’s a miserable stat. 

So I guess it’s no surprise that the best missed chance of the game came off a corner. It happened in the 44th minute. How do I describe it? Hard to watch. In what was nearly a mirror image of Seattle’s early goal, defender Liam Ridgewell found himself alone in front of an empty net with the ball just barely out of reach.

The second best chance for the Timbers came in the 12th minute, when Darlington Nagbe picked off an errant square ball from Seattle’s Cristian Roldan and ran 60 yards with it, drawing the attention of the Sounders defense as Fanendo Adi made his run to Nagbe’s left. Entering the box, Nagbe’s final ball needed to be better. It was a second too late and Adi’s advantage was lost. There was one other solid chance for the Timbers, a cross into the box that Adi was unable to connect with.

Sebastian Blanco was one of the few bright spots in the match against the Sounders. I think they let him go. I think their plan was to make Blanco beat them, not Valeri, not Adi, not Nagbe. Not up the middle. Blanco played well, giving much needed width to the Timbers attack, but he did not have the deadly impact the Timbers needed in the final third. You may remember I had high hopes for Blanco as a goal scorer. I wasn’t the only one.

This past week, Matthew Doyle, MLS’ Armchair Analyst, said of Blanco: 

“This has been a good year for newcomers, but one who has not lived up to the billing is Timbers attacker Sebastian Blanco, who has just a single goal and a pair of assists in his first 1,000 MLS minutes. He’s looked much more of a pass-before-the-pass guy, and a useful shuttler of the ball, but not at all the type who can unlock a packed in defense.

This is pretty shocking to me, since Blanco was awesome for San Lorenzo and is, on paper, a perfect fit with the other Portland attackers.”

Looks like the Timbers have a few things to sort out as summer approaches.