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SOCCER

'Sound' the Bells

By Jose Romero - Dec 17, 2016

It's been almost a week, but we would be remiss if we did not recognize the Major League Soccer championship won by Seattle Sounders FC at Toronto on Dec. 10. 

If you follow MLS, you know the Sounders were all but finished in late July when they made the decision to part ways with original head coach Sigi Schmid. Seattle was second-to-last in the West standings, and a drastic measure was taken.

Schmid said at the time of his ousting that he regretted not bringing an MLS Cup to the fans of the Sounders. And yet Schmid, who helped put the team together, is deserving of accolades, because his team got hot, made the playoffs and won it all.

MLS business picked up even before the Sounders held their rally and public celebration in Seattle Center. Before we know it, late January will be here and preseason training for the 2017 season will begin. But the Sounders and their huge following in Washington state will have a joyful holiday season with a Cup in hand after eight straight playoff appearances since their 2009 inception. 

The Sounders have been one of the league's most successful franchises since they debuted. They have legions of devoted fans and draw upwards of 40,000 fans to matches routinely. They recognized right away the talent and drawing power that Latino players would have on their roster, and many of those players played key roles in the championship run. 

Osvalso Alonso, now a U.S. citizen who is one of the last remaining players from the first season, is the heart and soul of the club. The native of Cuba played through injury in the final, further endearing himself to fans. 

Midfielder Nico Lodeiro arrived from Paraguay at midseason to join forward Nelson Valdez, and became the playmaker the Sounders needed. He led the team in assists with eight and scored four goals, then added four goals in the month-long playoffs. 

Cristian Roldan, from the Los Angeles area, joined Lodeiro and Alonso in making up a outstanding midfield. In his second year in the league, Roldan became a full-time starter this season.

And some of us remember Roman Torres, the tank of a defender who shined for Panama in the most recent CONCACAF Gold Cup. He came to the Sounders and dealt with injury last season and much of this season, even missing Copa America Centenario. But he got healthy and helped anchor a defense that came through, especially in the final.

Oh yeah, and the thunder-footed dancing machine that is Torres scored the game-clinching penalty kick against Toronto FC to win the MLS Cup.

The Sounders have now won the three main trophies an MLS club can win in America -- the MLS Cup, several U.S. Open Cups and a Supporters Shield trophy as the best regular-season team in the league. 

Even the NFL's Seahawks were thrilled for their CenturyLink Field co-tenants.

We know some fans and media refuse to give the Sounders any respect for their title, even in their own city. They degrade MLS, the highest level of soccer in the U.S. and Canada with teams in 20-plus markets.

It's a shame that stil happens in the U.S. But it won't ever happen on this website.

 

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