Barcelona FC 4 Seattle Sounders 0

August 7, 2009 at 4:18 am | Posted in General Football | 1 Comment

The Four Amigos made the trip across the border and down the I-5 to Seattle to see the best team in the world play one of the more ordinary ones.

Though their team is rather ordinary, and no match for Barca, the Seattle Sounders must be congratulated.  It is clear the city has embraced the team as a loved one.  There was a sea of green in the crowd, and from the amount of merchandise which has been bought and sold, it looks as though the world financial crisis could be solved by sales at the Seattle Sounders club shop!

66,000 plus showed up for the exhibition game in the spectacular Quest field.  Mercifully, Barca refused to play on the plastic and a nice grass pitch was laid down.    We had nosebleed seats behind the South goal, but the view was still fantastic, both of the pitch and of downtown Seattle.

I felt sorry for the Sounder’s fans.  While they were enthusiastic, I don’t think they really knew what they were up against.   Barca ran rings around them, and the Sounders barely touched the ball.   The Sounder’s best scoring chance came when Barca’s keeper fluffed a clearance straight to Freddie Llungberg, who squandered the golden opportunity to score.   The Sounders managed another early chance which dribbled straight to the Barca keeper. Other than these chances, the Sounders generally lost the ball after two or three passes between themselves.  While Barca were awesome going forward, they defended with considerable steel as well.   Some of their tackles were a bit stronger than I thought they would be in an exhibition game.

One complaint I had was the uniforms.  I had trouble seeing the Seattle players because their uniforms are the same colour as the grass!  Why Barca played in florescent orange rather than their traditional colours is beyond me.   I paid to see Barca in all their glory and I saw the Dutch national team instead!

On display in the first half were Messi, Xavi, Henry and Alves.   Disappointingly, all were taken off in the second half to be replaced by a bunch of relative strangers, who were excellent, but rather anonymous.  I would have understood if they had taken these guys off mid-way through the second half, but Barca should have let us see more of what we paid to see.   I felt that Barca could also have done a lap of honor or at least acknowledged the fans more before slinking off down the tunnel with only the slightest of waves to the fans.  When Man U came some years ago they did a lap of honour for the crowd to show their appreciation.

The superb Sounders marching brass band called “Sound Wave” cheered me up with their superb playing and catchy rhythms.  They even played the old theme that Seattle used to play on their televised games back in the North American Soccer League days.

In any event, we got to see the magic of Lionel Messi.  What is stunning about this guy is that he does not look like an athlete at all, yet he is arguably the world’s best player.   His balance while running is exceptional, his dribbling is magical and his timing impeccable.   One can see why he is called “the atomic ant”, because his little legs make him look like a little ant scurrying around.  He scored two goals seemingly without effort, as he left several superb athletes in his wake.   He typically takes the ball around centre on the right wing and cuts inside about 35 yards from goal.  Where he goes from there is anybody’s guess.

Dani Alves was also superb, the right back seemingly spending more time in the Sounders defensive third than his own.    It was a treat to see Henry, one of the greatest players of France’s World Cup winning generation.

The Sounders had the same difficulty playing Barca as every other team does.  They could not get the ball from Barca, who have mastered the difficult art of playing possession football.   When Barca scored their third goal, many fans left the stadium.  I think the attitude was, “there is no way we are going to win now”.   Remarkably naive, but charmingly partizan!  I felt a bit sorry for the fans seeing their team being so out-played.

I suppose getting humbled by Barcelona hurts, but these games give MLS teams the benchmark they must shoot for.  MLS is only 15 years old, and American footy has matured by huge steps in that time.  In another 15 years or so perhaps the MLS will be a second tier league rather than a third tier one;   they might then have a go at giving teams like Barca a game .  Hopefully Canadian footy can ride on its coattails with MLS teams in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.   From the support and enthusiasm I saw in Seattle, the future of footy in Central and Northern North America looks bright.  It looks especially bright in the Pacific Northwest.

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  1. Thanks for the report. Frustratingly, I was in Barcelona for the match.

    A friend and I saw Celtic play Chelsea at Qwest Field a few years ago, and it’s a really nice stadium. It really is spectacular.


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