The Sounder Women fought hard, but a mistake on a set piece was their downfall. The better team is moving on to the semifinals in Ottawa. Pali remains undefeated in their season. The only other team in the league that remains undefeated is DC United. They have also downed their opponent today to move on to Ottawa.
The lone goal of the Western Conference Championship was scored by Williams from a corner kick in the 63rd minute. Most of the Sounder defenders felt there was a foul on the keeper and stopped playing. Good lesson to play until the whistle. No foul was called and the goal stood. Megan Kufeld was good in goal for the Sounders, and that goal was on her defenders for not playing.
The entire game had a different feel to it than the previous two matches against the Pali Blues. The Sounders mounted more offense, especially in the first half. They maintained possession in the attacking half for longer periods in this match. They also wasted a lot of long balls that weren’t to anyone in particular. Pali was able to scoop those loose balls up and restart their attack. With the placement of Kate Deines in the holding mid position, more headers were won in the middle for the Sounders, which allowed for more play through the middle. This was a much more enjoyable match to watch, as the action was more even, and more end to end. It was never clear that the Sounders would lose until the last five or so minutes. They looked gassed on the wings, and the subs came on with too little time left to really impact the game.
It was a disappointing loss to end the Sounders’ season. That said, the Sounders had a fantastic season this year. They thrived with all of the fan support at home games. Perhaps that support would have made a difference for them in this game. We will never know.
What we do know is that the Sounders Women will be back in some capacity next season. The powers that be in women’s soccer are trying to create a new pro league for the 2013 season. Where the Sounders will fall in that new plan has yet to be seen. Once I know, I will certainly share that information here. Another unknown for the 2013 season is where the USWNT members will be playing. This season was unique in that they needed a place to get games under their belts and we had space for them, and a willingness to allow for their restrictions. I would expect to see Stephanie Cox back, since she calls Gig Harbor home, but other than that only time will tell.
This Sounders team has shown that they don’t need the national teamers to have success. They have shown that they can play with the best teams in this league and compete. I have spoken with Kate Deines, and she allowed that she and Veronica Perez would like to come back to the Sounders after their adventure on a team in Iceland this winter. I doubt that Megan Manthey will be back next season, since she has signed with a French team. I know that Kelli Smith will not be returning next season. She has taken a coaching position in Utah. As far as the remaining players, we shall see. I do hope that the fans will return and perhaps multiply next season, with or without the national team players. These games are quality games, and the cost to go, is very reasonable.
As a fan, I would like to thank the Sounders Women for thoroughly entertaining me this season. This was my first season of watching them in person. I knew they existed, but had no idea that they were as good as they are. I would like to thank them for reminding me how much I enjoy the women’s version of soccer. When I looked at all of the little kids in the stands, it reminded me that there are still dreamers out there that have the desire to grow this beautiful game. They are the next Hope Solo’s, Alex Morgan’s and Megan Rapinoe’s. We are fortunate to have a high quality program for them to reach for locally.
Next up, the London Olympics. The USWNT face the French on Wednesday at 9:00am. It will be televised, but I am not sure on which channel. They are in Group B, which includes France, Korea DPR (July 31st at 9:15am), and Colombia (July 28th at 9:00am). The quarter finals will be on August 3rd, and the semifinals are August 6th. The Gold medal match is on August 9th. Fitness is going to play a key roll in this tournament, and the USWNT should have a leg up in that area.
Good season Sounders Women! Thanks for leaving it all out there on the pitch. Spread the word fans, next season the Sounders are coming!