CARSON CA - NOVEMBER 07: Kasey Keller #18 of Seattle Sounders FC dives back for the ball on a shot that went wide over the net by the Los Angeles Galaxy in the second half during the MLS Western Conference Semifinal match second leg at The Home Depot Center on November 7 2010 in Carson California. The Galaxy defeated Sounders FC 2-1. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

Soccer In Cascadia: Seattle Wins, Portland Draws Before Both Teams Head Back To The Northwest

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Seattle Sounders Beat Chicago Fire 1-0 Before Heading Home To Prepare For Cascadia Summit

Servando Carrasco scored the only goal in the 120 minute preseason match between the Seattle Sounders and the Chicago Fire, and, for maximum drama, he waited until the 120th minute to do so. Roger Levesque sent the ball back to Miguel Montaño, who was racing up the left side of the field. Montaño sent the ball in to Carrasco, who was waiting in the middle of the box to put the ball in the net.

The 1-0 win puts the Sounders at 4-2-2 during preseason, but more importantly, it gave the coaches a chance to see the core of the team that they anticipate will start most games in the regular season. Those starters were Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Jeff Parke, Leo Gonzalez, Alvaro Fernandez, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Steve Zakuani, Fredy Montero and Blaise Nkufo.

Steve Zakuani certainly seemed satisfied with the time spent in Florida:

Preseason is such a long grind, but our passing is getting better, won't be where we need to be for a couple more weeks but it was good 2dayless than a minute ago via Mobile Web

Sounders now head back to Seattle to adjust to the drizzly atmosphere before the Cascadia Summit, which brings Vancouver and Portland to Tukwila March 4-6.


Portland Timbers And Sporting KC Play To A 0-0 Draw

Another day, another clean sheet for the Portland Timbers, as they wrapped up training camp in Arizona with a scoreless duel against Sporting Kansas City. Portland remain undefeated in preseason play, with four draws and a win from the five games played. Now they're headed home to the Rose City to prepare for the Cascadia Summit, scheduled March 4-6 at Starfire in Tukwila, Wash.

Portland put forth a 4-3-3 formation in Saturday's match against the Sporks, something that could be fun to see more of around MLS. The defense certainly seems to be gelling, with just two goals in their five matches, although of course it's important to remember that preseason records rarely reveal much about how the team will fare during the season. Most clubs are still putting together their rosters, evaluating starting lineups and judging whether or not to offer contracts to trialists. Roster compliance day arrives March 1, and Portland will likely add at least a few more players to their official roster before taking on Seattle and Vancouver.


Seattle Sounders Score Seven Against University Of Central Florida

It almost seems unfair that the Seattle Sounders put away seven against University of Central Florida. I mean, the Sounders are an MLS side, and here they are playing a bunch of college kids. But then again, the Philadelphia Union beat these kids 1-0 and New England Revolution, 2-0. In that context, 7-0 looks pretty impressive. O'Brian White and Pat Noonan each bagged a brace, while David Estrada, Mike Fucito and the ever-so-helpful Own Goal each contributed one.

None of last year's regular starters played in Thursday's preseason friendly, suggesting that this match was really more of a way to analyze trialists and determine who would be challenging for a place in Seattle's starting XI. In addition to scoring goals, both Estrada and Fucito contributed to the goals in the second half, while Miguel Montaño helped create in the first. Even if these guys aren't in the regular lineup for MLS matches, expect to see a solid team take the field for the U.S. Open Cup, and for CONCACAF Champions League once the 2011-2012 tournament starts up.


Portland Timbers Preseason Win Is Their First As An MLS Side

The Portland Timbers, who remain undefeated during the preseason, recorded their first win since becoming part of Major League Soccer, triumphing over the Montreal Impact 1-0 on February 23. Eddie Johnson grabbed the goal in the seventh minute after trialist Roberto Merino lofted the up the right side for him to head past Impact keeper Evan Bush.

Portland coach John Spencer is adamant that, although this might be preseason, the Timbers victory is significant, a boost to morale for the team and necessary to instill a winning mentality at the club. Spencer said, "It doesn’t matter who we’re playing against, we have to go out and win the game," which I suppose means that the Timbers aren't planning to be the Fulham of MLS.

Spencer continues to tinker with the team's lineup, adding and subtracting players both to see who might earn a starting position and who will even earn a place on the roster. Will the likes of Chris Taylor and Quavas Kirk make the squad? Spencer Thompson? Will the Timbers sign Jorge Perlaza? We'll know by March 1.


No Wins For Seattle Sounders When Facing Texan Teams Early In The Week

The Seattle Sounders have had a busy early part of the week, playing FC Dallas on Monday, February 21 and Houston Dynamo on February 22. I'm unsure as to why the Texas teams need to go hang in the Florida sunshine, but apparently it's just a big traveling party down in the Southern states.

The Sounders fell to Dallas 2-0, with goals by Martin Chavez and Break Shea. Each team used a mix of regulars and youngsters, although Dallas used what will likely be close to their starting XI in the first half, when both goals were scored, while Seattle reserved much of its strength for the second half.

Seattle then took on Houston, coming from behind to salvage a 2-2 draw. This time, the team had most of their starters on the field from the beginning, but remember, it's still preseason, so don't panic too much. Fredy Montero hit the post before scoring on a penalty kick, while rookie Michael Tetteh combined well with Roger Levesque before netting the equalizer.

Next up for the Sounders, it's the University of Central Florida. That friendly is scheduled for February 24, with Seattle taking on Chicago on February 26.


Vancouver Whitecaps Lost To LA Galaxy Not Once, But Twice, 2-0

The Vancouver Whitecaps are apparently having a difficult time finding preseason opposition, and were forced to resort to playing the LA Galaxy twice in two days. In a spectacular Groundhog Day moment, the 'Caps lost to the Galaxy 2-0 not just on Monday but on Tuesday, although it's clear that both teams used the second match as more of a chance to see the work of their youngsters and trialists rather than to totally dominate the opposition. Omar Salgado, the first pick in the MLS SuperDraft, played 51 minutes, but failed to do much of anything.

Should the Whitecaps need a bit of an ego boost, they might find it on Sunday, February 27, when they play amateur side Arizona Sahuaros. Expect Vancouver to keep fielding the youngsters: the team has just 16 players signed to the MLS roster, with 16 unsigned still with the club. With Vancouver probably looking to sign at least ten more players, and the league rosters due March 1, expect a flurry of activity.


Portland Timbers Face Montreal Impact, Sporting Kansas City Before Heading Back To Oregon

The Portland Timbers have been going quietly about their business in Case Grande, Arizona, with twice a day training sessions the main feature of their fifth week of the MLS preseason. Thirty players are in Timbers camp, including midfielder Roberto Merino Ramirez, a trialist who joined up with the team last week in Arizona. Also included in that number are forwards Jorge Perlaza and Brian Umony,  who rejoined the team after training with them in California. The Timbers also put pen to paper with two players this week, signing two Portland U-23 players, midfielder Freddie Braun and goalkeeper Jake Gleeson.

On Wednesday, the Timbers face the Montreal Impact, currently in the North American Soccer League but set to join MLS in 2012. Thursday and Friday it's back to training, and then on Saturday Portland goes up against Sporting Kansas City before traveling back to Oregon.

On Saturday, February 19, Portland played the Houston Dynamo in a match that must've made them wish they were back home, despite the threat of snow. Sand swirled and wind gusted around the players before the game was finally called off in the 80th minute, the score at 0-0.


Soccer In Cascadia: Lots Of Fun In The Sun While Snow Falls Up North

While those of us stuck in Cascadia are either watching the snow fall or crossing our fingers in hopes that the flakes will soon start, our favorite soccer teams are off in Arizona and Florida, basking in the sun and having a grand old time of it. In fact, the Seattle Sounders love the sun so much that they've elected to participate in the first-ever Beach Soccer Club World Cup, held March 20-27 in São Paulo, Brazil. Admittedly, I don't understand all that went into putting together a team for this tournament, but I imagine it involved lots of sunny days on beaches somewhere, and that's enough of a reason for it to have formed.

Anyway, there have been quite a few friendlies and exhibition matches already played by the likes of Seattle and Vancouver Whitecaps, with Portland Timbers set to play two this week as well. Due to the number of games and the amount of random news tidbits floating around, I'll go ahead and break these reports into team-specific entries, so check back shortly for the news from throughout Cascadia.

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