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Abolish the Celebration Police!

The Sounders ended their three game week with 5 points from a possible 9. Particularly in the first half last night, the team played their best soccer since May and are firmly in the playoff picture. Sitting second in the Western Conference, albeit with everyone else having games in hand, the vibes among the fanbase still feels understandably mixed. Is this Sounders team good or not is a reasonable question to be asking after a long, difficult summer. In many ways the Portland game was a microcosm of the season. Promising, yet fleeting attacking play. Giving up goals on the back post. VERY questionable substitutions in the second half. The Sounders remain consistently inconsistent in both performances and results.

The flashpoint of the game and afterwards online seemed to be around Leo Chu, his goal, celebration and his subsequent sending off for a non-foul in the 53' minute. We saw a lot of hot takes about how the game was lost because of Leo Chu. This is completely and massively WRONG. Leo scored his fourth goal of the season by winning the ball in the Sounders defensive half, playing a quick one two with Ruidiaz (who had a much-needed goal and an assist on the night) then running through the Portland defense to cooly slot home a difficult turf-bobbling chance. He celebrated this by taking his shirt off, earning himself a yellow card. We love the passion and the celebration #Freethenipple and to be honest there hasn't been nearly enough fire or energy in these rivalry games lately (really missing Cristian Roldan and sending our best wishes to him!). Celebrations and self-expression are key parts to a GAME that we watch for entertainment. PLAY is FUNdamental. Abolish the Celebration Police!

The fact that Chu was sent off later when he was shoved into an opponent was not the reason the Sounders gave up their lead and tied Portland. First of all, soccer is a team game and you win as a team and lose as a team. Secondly, 2-0 up at home, the Sounders have to be able to defend that lead for 35 or so minutes. Subbing out your entire central midfield unit when defending a lead like that is certainly a choice. I'm not sure I've ever seen that before when injuries weren't a factor. I'm dying to know what Schmetzer writes in that little notebook of his.

Chu has been by far our best offensive player this season, our most consistent provider and he was excellent once again last night. Chu has 8 assists on the year to rank 12th in MLS. By the way for all you Lodeiro haters, Nico, LEGEND, has 10 assists and is ranked 7th in the league, not bad for a player who so many claim is washed up. A lot of the narratives around this Sounder season don't always seem to correspond with reality. This has been a difficult season as results have not been good and watching the games has been admittedly painful at times. But while criticisms of players are valid and even welcome, negativity or name-calling is not. Criticisms, like stats are generally are most helpful when they have context and are borne out over time. Players performances are within the context of the larger team dynamic.

Here at Spicy Teriyaki our goal is to ENJOY watching the games and supporting the team. S.T. might criticize a player or a performance but will never get into personal attacks or derision. We love the emotion and passion of the sport but it is really bizarre when fans go after club legends like Lodeiro or young players like Obed and Leo Chu. To each their own, but we like ALL the players, even the ones we criticize, ultimately we want to see them play well and win in the Rave Green.

The Sounders are a far from perfect team and it's been a challenging season in many ways but currently Seattle sits second in the Western Conference, only four points behind a St Louis side that have lost 2 of their last 3 games. Sounders are unbeaten in their last 3 games and sometimes a couple draws can spark a good run of form.

Figure out how to stop teams from scoring on our back post and watch the clean sheets roll in like Frei's running a busy laundromat. Sounder sit second best in that category already with 11, only conceding an average of 1.04 goals a game. That is a good foundation to build upon. The offense still has work to do but we all know that there are good players capable of finding the goal. How the Sounders find their scoring boots comes down to tactics and coaching but that's a discussion for another day. There is a lot of reason to believe that the Sounders can put a challenging summer behind them and make a strong final run into the playoffs. If the Sounders keep playing like they did last night there is more fun ahead. All aboard the CHU CHU Train: Next Stop PLAYOFFS.

***The I/We tense changes are bad. I/we know. A little too much excitement and I/we are still new to blogging and writing, thanks for your patience***


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