The Year In Stories: The Club
Posted by: Matt Gaschk
A look back at some of Matt Gaschk's favorite and most difficult stories behind the Sounders FC in 2011.
Finally, in the last part of our four-part series looking back at some of the stories of the Sounders FC in 2011, we look back on some of the top personalities of the club.
The club’s MVP each of the past two seasons has been Osvaldo Alonso. After a stint training with Everton in England, he added some elements to his game and his confidence spiked in 2011 when he was one of three Sounders who was considered a viable league MVP candidate. Learn about his growth in “The Evolution of Alonso” (6/14).
Alonso is one of the more beloved figures in the club. What was once a cult following has risen to pretty incredible heights among the supporters and media. His growth with the club has been tremendous and as he’s grown more and more comfortable, he’s played exponentially better. That’s a story that’s fun to relay.
The club’s Defender of the Year was Jeff Parke. However, the season didn’t start quite as strong as it finished for the veteran center back. Off-season toe surgery slowed him a bit in the early-going, but once he adjusted, he solidified the Seattle defense. Read about his resolute play in “True Grit” (6/15).
Parke came to the Sounders under difficult circumstances and he was never one to complain. He seemed reluctant to point to his injuries as an excuse for his slow start, but later in the year conceded that he wasn’t 100 percent. Playing on through that discomfort and pain is part of what make’s Jeff Parke who he is – and was another story I liked to tell.
Perhaps the biggest character on the Sounders made his name known in 2011 with a now-famous scuba diving goal celebration after his second goal in a 4-2 win over the New York Red Bulls, but Roger Levesque added much more than providing entertaining ways to commemorate goals. Read about his many and varied on-field exploits in “Utility Man” (8/11).
I’ve known Levesque now for eight years and while his role with the MLS club isn’t as prominent as it was with the USL club, he plays with the same vigor. Seeing him do that at any spot on the field whenever he was called upon to do so was fun … and he always does it with a smile.
One of the other emerging tales of the 2011 season was Federal Way’s Lamar Neagle, who exploded onto the national scene with game-winning road goals against Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City and a hat-trick against the Columbus Crew. This after an MVP season in 2010 with the Charleston Battery. Read about his drastically different off-seasons in “Home For The Holidays” (12/1).
I’ve followed Neagle through his roller-coaster couple of years as a pro soccer player and have been so impressed with his will. The fact that he’s a local boy – the lone remaining on the club – makes his story all the more enjoyable to tell.
Fredy Montero chose the right moments in the regular season to have two of his best games. The Colombian forward scored twice in Portland to top the Timbers and then twice in Vancouver to top the Whitecaps and clinch the Cascadia Cup. Read about Montero’s flare for the dramatic in “King of Cascadia” (9/25).
Fredy Montero might be the most criticized player on the Sounders, yet he’s remained the club’s top scorer in each of the club’s three seasons. Whenever they’ve called, he’s answered with important goals in MLS play. Those are the moments he lives for and whether he is inspired by his detractors or not, there is a feeling among some of his strongest supporters that those detractors make moments like lifting the Cascadia Cup even sweeter.
Finally, Mauro Rosales exploded into Sounders lore early in training camp when he came to the club as an un-named trialist. Once fans learned his name, he assured that they would never forget with a remarkable first MLS season, earning MLS Newcomer of the Year honors with five goals and a club-record 13 assists. He knew right away that things were going to go well and recalls that in “Welcomed From The Start” (11/17).
Mauro Rosales quickly became one of the more likable in a great group of people. I thought he deserved more consideration for the league MVP trophy, but was happy to see him come home with the Newcomer award. I look forward to seeing what he can do in 2012 and beyond.
I enjoyed following the team around in 2011 and can’t wait to do it again in 2012. I hope you enjoyed the stories I wrote as much as I enjoyed writing them.
See you at CenturyLink Field in March.