RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Thursday, March 5

14-Man Micro-Metaphysical Roster: SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC

{I hope they know true futbol supporters have to fight III %ers to the death by 2024}

[14-Man Micro-Metaphysical Roster is a football metaphysics methodology calculating minutes played per the last 50 competitive matches for a North American football club, weighting that shit more heavily for most recent matches, and using them calculations to list the 14 players constituting the strongest psychic force on a club’s current path. This is done at Football Metaphysics Space twice a month for the Premier League clubs in England, and now I’m doing it for the top clubs in North America, two per month. Pay me for my emotionless labor paypal.me/dirtgod or venmo @ravenmack23]

We get to our first North American club north of the Mexican border, and it allows me to contemplate through words what exactly is the difference between the professional football in America versus Mexico. Liga MX is split into two half-year seasons, but the regular season equals the same amount as MLS. And we saw a lot of the top clubs from both leagues in these past few weeks first knockout rounds of the CONCACAF Champions League. So why does MLS feel so half-speed compared to Liga MX, in both actual speed as well as intensity? Is it the lack of deep local soccer culture that filters through classes? There's something performative feeling about MLS - that it's a giant cosplaying event more than actual sport at times. But some places got passionate about it, and Seattle has been one of those spaces, with their downtown stadium right at the edge of Chinatown being a bonafide destination for a somewhat progressive urban base. Maybe that's the end result of gentrification though. How many of the folks living in tents underneath the I-5 are thinking about Sounders matches?

Last season, Seattle stumbled into the MLS playoffs, but took off from there. And being the metrics used for ranking North American clubs includes domestic league, domestic cup, and continental Champions League, there was no doubting Seattle would place high, as they've won the MLS Cup in 2016 and 2019, and been dominant in the US Open Cup, having won it four times (2009, 2010, 2011, and 2014). It's weird though, because their coach, Brian Schmetzer, simultaneously represents all that is wrong as well as right with U.S. soccer. He looks like your everyday dork set up with a Macbook Pro in a nitro brewed coffee shop somewhere. But he's also the son of an immigrant who played in the German Third Division, who grew up in Washington, and due to knowing the true professional traditions of soccer, didn't play in college and instead chose to join the Seattle Sounders club that existed in the North American Soccer League back in 1980. He even played on an indoor soccer club by that name, and then was still active when the modern version of the Sounders started in the 1990s at the lower levels of U.S. soccer. He was manager of that USL club when it was legally dissolved in 2008 to create the new corporate MLS entity by the same name, and he moved down to assistant underneath Sigi Schmid. He served dutifully in that capacity, and the club prioritized trophy successes (not always something done in U.S. soccer, or large leagues in Europe for that matter), and the new MLS version of the club won the U.S. Open Cup three years straight. When Schmid left the club by mutual agreement in 2016, Schmetzer took back over, guided them to an MLS title, and repeated that feat last season, meaning in just under four seasons in charge, he's won two domestic league titles (and was runner-up in one of the other seasons). So few clubs have the actual tradition over decades in multiple levels of soccer as Seattle Sounders, as well as the successful history in terms of winning trophies the past decade, as well as a fan base that's actually pretty supportive, with the club having a regular attendance of 30,000 plus, and even setting records with a couple key matches with well over 60,000 in attendance. The club has a supporter marching band, which leads a procession of supporters from a nearby park into the stadium before each home match, and generally speaking, though there's a certain amount of cosplay involved in U.S. soccer, Seattle Sounders supporters have done it to such a level that it's taken actual root, and is hard to dismiss as idiotic bullshit to be honest.

So here are the 14 men who have had the most impact in terms of playtime the past 50 competitive matches for the club…

#1: STEFAN FREI – Stefan Frie Seattle's longtime Swiss GK, who actually has been with the club since their USL days, and previously featured with such storied American football clubs as the San Francisco Seals and the San Jose Frogs. He played college soccer at Cal, which is how he ended up in the Bay Area, and it's weird to think how many US soccer players waste four years of developmental time at the collegiate level, which doesn't prepare them all that well for professional soccer. Fuck it though, Frei is the club's vice-captain, and I kinda dig the fact that both their manager and a couple major players not only existed with the club for a while, but did so before the club was an MLS club. That's of course an argument for relegation and promotion and not forcing minor league clubs to sell themselves to a new MLS entity to be an MLS club, but a corporate cleansing of the club's full history is kinda antithetical to football metaphysics. But hey, that's why America fucking sucks at soccer.

#2: CRISTIAN ROLDAN – Roldan is American-born and bred, a California kid who had gone the normal route of college soccer at Washington, while also playing in the Premier Development League for the Washington Crossfire. In 2015, he was signed to the Generation Adidas thing that allegedly supports the growth of young footballers in America, but fuck, looking at the list of them historically, not many of them really catch on in any real way. A lot of them seem to actually play here at University of Virginia where I work, which makes sense, because this place is hooked up to American soccer illuminati, with both Bruce Arena and Bob Bradley being coaches here in the past. No wonder American soccer sucks. Anyways, Roldan got drafted by the Sounders, and has been part of either their second team or senior team for the past five years. He also has appeared with the USMNT regularly, beginning with the 2017 Gold Cup.

#3: KIM KEE-HEE – Kim Kee-Hee had roamed the defensive side of things for the Sounders the past two seasons, having come to America from his native South Korea. But the past year has seen the Sounders bolster their central defense with South Americans, so Kim has returned home, having been signed by Ulsan Hyundai a few weeks ago. He’s been a mainstay on the Sounders starting XI, so it’ll be interesting to see how they adjust. Of course, it’s football, and people come and go all the time, so fuck it. We are all replaceable, no matter how important we think we are to this world.

#4: KELVIN LEERDAM – Kelvin Leerdam is a rare example of strange geopolitical metaphysics often seen in football, but not quite as much in America. He's from Suriname, which is a South American country, which had been under Dutch rule as a colony, and yet somehow is part of the North American confederation. Just like Mexican clubs played in the South American continental competition, and Mexico often went to CONMEBOL tournaments, there's a couple of South American nations like Suriname and Guyana that aren't up to the level of South American football, so they play in North America. That's just how it is. But because of Dutch rule, Leerdam qualified for the Dutch national team, and was good enough to play for them at the U19 and U21 level, but chose to represent Guyana at the senior level. This also means he made himself irrelevant to European football. So that means he ends up going to Seattle Sounders after getting released by Vitesse in the Netherlands, after having played nearly a decade in the Eredivisie, and has grown into a major force on Seattle's squad. Last season, even as a defender, he got 6 goal in 33 appearances, including the opening goal in their 3-1 MLS Cup title win over Toronto FC last November. And despite that long history in Europe, he's still only 29. And having an offensive-minded brain at right back, with top flight experience in Europe, now combined with the South American central defenders you'll read about elsewhere on this list, Seattle actually has pretty solid metaphysics at that back line. By American standards (which are low), the rest of the starting XI can flounder a little with such a solid defensive line. Hopefully the coronavirus doesn't wipe out Seattle though.

#5: NICOLAS LODEIRO – Lodeiro's a Uruguayan scoring threat who built a huge name for himself in South America before coming to America for the Sounders in 2016. MLS clubs are allowed three players to be designated which don't count against the league's salary cap, and not only is Lodeiro on that list - he's the second longest player to be on that list in MLS, only behind Jozy Altidore with Toronto FC. He also appears to have the fifth-highest guaranteed salary in MLS (so far as I can tell, but 2020 dudes like Chicharito or Cristian Pavon don't show up yet). Lodiero also spent two seasons as a young player in Europe, with Ajax, where he played with fellow Uruguayan and amigo Luis Suarez (of Liverpool and Barcelona fame). In his three and a half seasons with the Sounders, he's gotten 26 goals already, and added 7 in MLS playoffs, including 2 in 3 matches last season. He's a key to the club's successes, and honestly one of those players who sort of plays down to the competition sometimes. When he performs as he's capable of, he can be dominant in MLS, but also is about to turn 31, which only further suggests that MLS is a second tier domestic league where great footballers go to play when they're again out of top tier domestic leagues.

#6: RAUL RUIDIAZ – Another designated player, and a Peruvian who was a longtime star for that nation's biggest club, Universitario, before plauying in Liga MX in Mexico for Morelia two seasons. He's been an absolute goal-scoring beast in every season he's touched in North America, far more than he did while still competing in South America. He had 20 goals both seasons in Liga MX, and despite only having 16 appearances the second half of the 2018 Seattle season, he got 13 goals in that time. Adding 15 last season, and got the final match-sealing goal in the MLS Cup final against Toronto last November. Few clubs in MLS have the one-two upfront threat as Lodeiro and Ruidiaz. Ruidiaz is a tiny dude though, nicknamed "The Flea".

#7: JORDAN MORRIS – A homegrown player for the Sounders, who played with them as a youth academy kid, and then spent his collegiate career at Stanford. He won an NCAA title while there, then returned to the professional ranks at the suggestion of USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann, who rightfully felt the college game would hold back his development. His been their go-to scorer the past couple years, when healthy, with 33 goals in 103 appearances, but 13 for 30 last season, and already has 3 goals in 3 appearances this young season. Shit, if I keep fucking off on finishing this write-up, he might have two more by the time you read these words. Lolol, ain't nobody reading these words.

#8: GUSTAV SVENSSON – A Swedish defensive midfielder, which I guess is progress above American since he previously played in his native country, China, and the intense orld of Turkish football. But it's still a pretty strong sign that there's ground to cover in terms of football metaphysics in America. Use of a defensive midfielder is a quality move philosophically, but you need an African defensive midfielder, preferably West or Central African, but if you got you a good viciously stylistic Algerian or Moroccan or Egyptian, that'd probably be good too. Scandinavian is better than no defensive midfielder though, and this will be Svensson's fourth season with the Sounders.

#9: BRAD SMITH – An Australian left back who was in the Liverpool youth academy, and spent time contracted to them, getting loaned out to lower level clubs for a while. He came to America to play for Seattle in 2018, on loan the second half of the 2018 season. But a season-long loan from Bournemouth, his parent club at that point, carried him through the first half of Seattle's 2019 season as well, and he became a crowd favorite because of how he pushed forward out of defense, much like Leerdam on the other side, so the Sounders negotiated keeping him through the end of 2019. Once he returned to Bournemouth in January, they loaned him out for the rest of this season to Cardiff City.

#10: JOEVIN JONES – Joevin Jones is a Trinidadian and Tobagon, whose national team is called The Soca Warriors, because soca music is incredibly popular on the island nation, and hardly anywhere else on Earth. He was a star for W Connection, which is the biggest club on the island nation as well, who feud at the professional level with the other big club on the island, Joe Public, which is owned by that corrupt ass dude who got in trouble as part of the FIFA scandals under Sepp Blatt. Jack Warner was his name, and he was like this hemisphere's ringleader in FIFA corruption.

#11: JORDY DELEM – Delem has a very non-traditional entry into professional soccer, coming from the Caribbean island nation of Martinique. I don't know if statistics from that nation's clubs are sparse, or he didn't play much, but there's not much record statistically of his years spent there, before Seattle signed him to be part of their USL second-team. He performed well enough he moved to the senior club in March of 2017, so he's spent three full seasons on the A-team squad, with 59 appearances stretched across that time, and getting up to 27 appearances last season, including 10 starts.

#12: XAVIER ARREAGA – Arreaga's a defender who came straight from his native Ecuador, where he'd become a domestic league star at Barcelona SC (not that Barcelona). Arreaga had been a designated player last season, but somehow is not this season. On top of this, the club added Colombian Yeimar Gomez Andrade to pair with Arreaga as a northern South American central defending tandem to lock shit down on the defense. It didn't help prevent them from getting waxed in the first knockout round of the North American Champions League though.

#13: ROMAN TORRES – Roman Torres is a fucking monster, and one of my favorite MLS players. he had one of the most important moments in North American football's recent history, during the last round of World Cup qualifying in 2018, when the US squad was failing to beat Trinidad & Tobago in the Caribbean, and at the same time, Panama was trying to beat Costa Rica to steal that qualification spot. With 3 minutes left in the game, Torres scored the game-winning goal, ran straight off the field, ripping his jersey off, and celebrating in front of the Panamanian crowds going wild. The nation qualified for their first ever World Cup, the next day became a national holiday in celebration, and Torres will always be remembered. The nation did not do well in the World Cup, and Torres announced his retirement from international football after that World Cup, though he also accepted a later call-up for a friendly. He was a similar beast for Seattle over the past four seasons, but his minutes were in decline. He moved to David Beckham's upstart Inter Miami club this offseason, and hopefully will give that new monstrosity of a club some sort of soul, if possible.

#14: HARRY SHIPP – I figured for certain a name like Harry Shipp meant some middling Englishman who had stumbled his way to America, but it turns out he's a kid from Illinois who played football at Notre Dame (the less popular football), and simultaneously was signed to the Chicago Fire's premier development club at the same time, since he'd been a player in their youth system. I'm not even sure how American youth clubs work at the professional level? Are you recruited for it, or do they just sort of adopt the best kids in their metropolitan region? Weird thing is, since I used to go to UVA soccer games, I might've actually seen this fucker at some point. I don't remember him if I did.

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