Soccer In Cascadia: All Three Teams Will Leave The Rain Behind, Head South Again

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Osvaldo Alonso Signs Contract Extension With Seattle Sounders Through 2014

The Sounders have extended the contract of Osvaldo Alonso for two additional seasons, through the 2014 MLS season. Alonso, Seattle's most valuable player in 2010, is absolutely deserving of such a contract extension. Sounders fans will remember the terrible seven-game run in 2010, when Alonso went missing due to injury. The absence of the tenacious defensive midfielder was evident in the club's record with him missing, when they lost six of their seven matches. In Alonso's first start back from injury, the Sounders won 2-1, and proceeded to go 9-2-2 with Ossie in the squad.

Stats might not tell everything, but the fact that Seattle's nine of eleven shutouts came with Alonso present is fairly significant. He is the last line of prevention before the opposition reaches a sometimes shaky defense, particularly one that was missing Alonso's buddy Jhon Kennedy Hurtado. Although it's often easier to cheer on a flashy striker, such as Fredy Montero, most Sounders supporters know just how valuable Alonso is to the club, and will be thrilled with his extension.  

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Portland Timbers Acquire Sal Zizzo From Chivas USA

The Portland Timbers picked up midfielder Sal Zizzo today from Chivas USA, picking up a player who would be worth a million points should "Scrabble: MLS Version" ever be produced. Zizzo, 23, spent three largely disappointing seasons with Bundesliga side Hannover 96. He missed all of the 2009-10 Bundesliga season with an ACL injury.

But picking up USMNT players who missed a season with injury is a very trendy thing to do right now, and the Timbers are simply keeping pace with DC United, who announced the year-long loan signing of Charlie Davies this morning. While Zizzo had ten appearances with the Goats after signing with them in July, just one of those was a start. It may seem like Portland are taking a risk with a player whose career seems slightly stagnated, but, barring another injury, there's no reason Zizzo can't make an impact with the new MLS side.

Timbers fans, want to keep up with your newest player? Follow Zizzo on Twitter! Soccer players + random thoughts...what could be better?

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Soccer In Cascadia: All Three Teams Will Leave The Rain Behind, Head South Again

The soccer teams of the Pacific Northwest are spending quite a bit of time jaunting off to exotic, warm locales while those of us left at home are stuck shivering in the rain and dreaming of the start of the MLS season. Here's a quick look at what the Sounders, Timbers and Whitecaps were up to last week, and where they're headed this week. Check back for more detailed news of preseason friendlies, roster cuts, and who's beating whom in FIFA 11 tournaments.

Seattle Sounders

The Sounders are taking Valentines' Day off to allow their players to buy chocolates, flowers, etc rather than trudge out to Starfire. However, Wednesday and Thursday they train in Tukwila, and then the lucky dudes, who just got back from Arizona, head off to Florida. No exhibition matches this week, but next Monday they play against FC Dallas.

Seattle celebrated their last day in Arizona by beating Chivas USA 1-0. The only goal was scored by David Estrada, assisted by Miguel Montano and invitee Jonathan Prieto. The Sounders are likely to make roster cuts before heading on to Florida, with the MLS deadline for final rosters set for March 1.

Portland Timbers

The Timbers have returned from California and are stuck in Beaverton for awhile, but can look forward to heading down to Arizona on Friday while the rest of us fear the "snowpocalypse" supposedly moving into Oregon. Portland's schedule has them opening the season in Colorado on March 19, so maybe it would be smarter to stay in town?

Last Tuesday saw the Timbers come back and grab an equalizer against the L.A. Galaxy, with the match finishing at 1-1. Trialist Brian Umony netted Portland's only goal. When the team returned to the city, Kenny Cooper was waiting, having been introduced in a Thursday press conference. The forward, anxious to put his injury-laden time in Europe behind him, trained with the team on Saturday.

Vancouver Whitecaps

Another team set to head out of the drizzly, dreary Northwest, the Whitecaps leave for their second train-cation on Wednesday, also flying off to Arizona, having been away for less than two weeks. Vitamin D is important! The Caps beat Columbus 2-1 on Tuesday, with Atiba Harris and Omar Salgado the goalscorers. Salgado, the first pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, is unable to play until he turns 18 on September 10, but that hasn't stopped him from impressing this preseason.

Vancouver added two international players to its roster last week, signing Nizar Khalfan and Gershon Koffie, who both played for the team last year. That makes sixteen on the Whitecaps roster, so they've got a few more slots to fill before March 1.

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