Sounders Win Supporters Shield

Seattle Sounders FC Supporters Shield

Marco Pappa’s second goal sent the team into a frenzy on the sideline.

For the first time in their brief MLS history, the Seattle Sounders have won the Supporters Shield, awarded to the best team in the league at the end of the regular season. They did it by beating the Los Angeles Galaxy 2-0 at home on Saturday afternoon at CenturyLink Field. The win followed a 2-2 draw in L.A. last week, which meant the Sounders only needed another draw to win the Shield. The trophy gives the Sounders two on the year, having won the U.S. Open Cup earlier this summer.

It was an extremely hard fought game by the two rivals, as chances were exchanged throughout the game. The Galaxy dictated the tempo of the match for most of the first half, but they were unable to find the back of the net. The Sounders didn’t get many chances on goal, but they took advantage when they did. Both goals were scored by Marco Pappa, who came on as a substitution in the middle of the second half. Obafemi Martins assisted on the first strike on a quickly played free kick that Pappa blasted home from the left side. Pappa’s second goal was just a flat-out “wanting it more” play, as he stole the ball from L.A.’s keeper and flicked it over a defender into the back of the net. It all led to a magical ending to a magical season for the Rave Green.

So what does it all mean, and what’s next? Well, the Sounders now are the top seed going to the MLS Playoffs and will play again next Sunday in the Western Conference Semifinals – opponent TBA (either FC Dallas or our Cascadia Cup rival Vancouver Whitecaps). Seattle will be going for the triple as they hope to win the franchise’s first MLS Cup in December. But it will be a long month to get there, as this has been the time of year when the Sounders have started to struggle as a team.

However, this team has been playing well for most of the year and rarely have two bad matches in a row. With the way that the playoff format is, Seattle has as good of a chance as anyone to bring home their third trophy of the year. When you have Clint Dempsey and Martins – who has solidified himself as the favorite to win MLS MVP – you always have a chance.

While it’s already been a special season, this club is hungry for more. These guys aren’t done yet. Lucky us!

If you missed the match against the Galaxy here are the highlights:

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PREVIEW AND PREDICTION: UW vs. #14 ASU – Troy Williams gets his first collegiate start!

Redshirt freshman QB, Troy Williams, got his first significant playing time last week at Oregon. He will be thrown into the fray once again this week as the starting quarterback.

Redshirt freshman QB, Troy Williams, got his first significant playing time last week at Oregon. He will be thrown into the fray once again this week as the starting quarterback.

Game: Washington Huskies vs. #14 Arizona State Sun Devils

Where: Seattle, WA

When: October 25thth, 7:45 pm

Channel: ESPN

Line: ASU by 3 points

Game Storylines:

How will redshirt freshman QB, Troy Williams, respond to his first start for the Washington Huskies? Starting QB, Cyler Miles, was sidelined last week against Oregon with concussion symptoms. It hasn’t been officially confirmed, but it would be safe to assume that Miles did not pass concussion protocols this week vacating the starting quarterback position. Enter Troy Williams. Williams began the season as the 3rd string QB behind both Miles and Jeff Lindquist. However, the coaches have been impressed with Troy’s progress as he has surpassed Lindquist as the backup quarterback. In order to beat ASU, Troy Williams must play within himself, keep his composure, and take what the defense gives him.

Matchups:

2014 Matchup - UW vs ASU

Quarterback. As mentioned above, the Huskies will be starting redshirt freshman Troy Williams at the quarterback position. Williams is talented but extremely raw and inexperienced. ASU will be led by their veteran QB, Taylor Kelly. He has proven to be a more than effective signal caller at this level; so too has his backup, Mike Bercovici. Regardless who starts for either team, the Arizona State duo has proven to be much more consistent and effective this season. Edge, Sun Devils.

Running Backs. In the beginning of the season it looked like the Huskies bread and butter on offense would be their running game. However, the Dawgs have really struggled the past two weeks establishing the run which is a reason for concern moving forward. Arizona State on the other hand has a veteran running back that is equally effective in the passing game in D.J. Foster. Expect Foster to make the most of his touches running and catching ball out of the backfield. Edge, ASU.

Wide Receivers. The Washington receiving corps have been underwhelming this season outside of one or two plays a game by John Ross III. Kasen Williams has adopted the persona of a snow leopard as he seemingly disappears come game time. Jaydon Mickens has racked up nearly 40 receptions, but he too has failed to make his presence felt consistently. On the contrary, ASU has one of the most underrated WR’s in the conference in my opinion. Jaelen Strong has quietly had a great year for the Sun Devils with 49 receptions, 689 yards, and 6 TDs. Edge, Sun Devils.

Tight End. The Washington Huskies have talent and depth at the TE position. Joshua Perkins and Darrell Daniels can stretch the field down the seam with their athleticism and receiving ability, while Michael Hartvigson can use his blocking skills to aid the running and passing game. Arizona State has also gotten decent production from their top two TE’s, Kody Kohl and De’Marieya Nelson. At the end of the day, the Husky TE’s are more likely to come up with a big play. Edge, Huskies.

Offensive Line. For the second week in a row the Washington offensive line has struggled to open running lanes and keep their QB upright. I firmly believe that much of the offensive problems are initiated with poor blocking. The best friend to a young quarterback is a solid running attack and the Huskies have been inconsistent on the ground recently. With that being said, the Husky lineman are still experienced, talented, and athletic. However, I am giving the edge here to the ASU lineman as they have given up fewer sack in an offense that has attempted more passes. Also, the Sun Devils average 5.1 yards per carry as opposed to UW’s 4.1 yards per carry. Edge, ASU.

Defensive Line. Hau’oli Kikaha is a QB’s worst nightmare. He is an assassin off the edge. Even the all-elusive Marcus Mariota couldn’t escape. Kikaha sacked Mariota 2.5 times last week to give him 12.5 on the season…good enough to lead the nation. Up the middle is the run-stuffing Danny Shelton who leads the team with 57 tackles. Opponents are only averaging 3.3 yards per carry against the Dawgs. The Sun Devils have given up an average of 4.8 yards per carry to opponents. Edge, Huskies.

Linebackers. The Husky linebackers didn’t score last weekend…that’s weird. Oh wait! John Timu dropped a sure pick-six on Oregon’s first drive. The Washington linebacker unit of Shaq, Timu, and Feeney continue to impress and expect them to carry this momentum into tomorrow night’s game. I think this group of backers are second to none in the nation. Edge, Washington.

Defensive Secondary. The Washington Husky defensive backfield has improved tremendously this season. Earlier in the season they were anemic and consistently getting gashed. Last week was a rough week for the secondary against an elite passer, Marcus Mariota. However, Husky fans should be excited about the young talent and potential on the back end of the defense. However, the ASU defensive secondary is more experienced and has performed more consistently to this point in the season. Edge, ASU.

Special Teams. As he does each week, John Ross III will certainly make his presence felt as a kick returner. Cameron Van Winkle and Korey Durkee likewise, have been very consistent this season in the Husky kicking game. All around the Washington Huskies have a solid special teams unit. Arizona State has had a respectable special teams unit this season as well. With that being said, their place-kicker Zane Gonzalez has struggled from beyond 40 yards. Edge, Huskies.

Prediction:

Washington 24 Arizona State 27

Throughout this entire week I was preparing for the Washington Huskies to upset the #14 Arizona State Sun Devils; however, with Troy Williams getting his first start at quarterback this weekend it will be an uphill battle. Asking a young and inexperienced QB to operate an offensive efficiently and mistake free against a top-25 team is a tall order. With that being said, I believe that the Huskies will be competitive in this game as the offensive establishes the run and the defense anchors in and tests the Sun Devil offense. In the end, Williams comes up one completion short on a potentially game winning drive in his first collegiate start.

WASHINGTON @ OREGON: Rivalry Game – Get Pumped Up!

Game: Washington Huskies @ Oregon Ducks

Where: Berkeley, CA

When: October 18thth, 5:00 pm

Channel: FOX Sports 1

Line: Oregon by 20.5 points

Game Storylines:

Will the Huskies finally find a way to beat the Oregon Ducks? The Washington Huskies have been beaten by the Oregon Ducks the past ten years. A decade of dominance for the Ducks, and a decade of shame for the Huskies. However, the Huskies once again have reason for some optimism. New coach, Chris Petersen, is 2-0 against the all mighty Ducks. Does Coach Pete have anything left up his sleeve to pull off yet another victory against Oregon? Can Cyler Miles, John Ross, and Lavon Coleman will the offense down the field and keep pace with the electrifying Marcus Mariota-led Oregon offense? Will Danny Shelton, Hau’oli Kikaha, and Shaq Thompson be able to limit Mariota’s play-making skills? Husky Nation has been waiting to see how our team will look against a truly elite team…well, here is our chance.

Matchups:

2014 Matchup - UW vs Oregon

Quarterback. Cyler Miles looked much improved last week against Cal. With that being said, I would caution Husky Nation to not get overly excited. Cal’s passing defense is vulnerable and Cyler played one of his better games of the season. Hopefully he can carry this momentum into a game against a much higher profiled opponent, the Oregon Ducks. Edge here goes to Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, perhaps the best football player in the nation.

Running Backs. Surprisingly the Washington Huskies actually struggled to establish the run last week at Cal. All season long the Huskies have leaned heavily on their rushing attack and that will again be the emphasis in Eugene this weekend. However, Oregon’s running game is of the best in the country. The Ducks boast one of the deepest running back corps as well as an extremely mobile quarterback in Mariota. Edge, Ducks.

Wide Receivers. The Washington Huskies have John Ross III and Jaydon Mickens. That seems about it these days. Granted Ross is going to score a TD of 55+ yards in every game that still is not enough compared to Oregon’s WR’s. The Ducks running backs are also heavily utilized in the passing game putting extra stress on the opposing pass defense. Against a young and inexperienced Husky secondary, the Ducks could find success through the air early. Edge, Ducks.

Tight End. The Huskies were sure happy to see Joshua Perkins back after sitting out much of the first half of the season with an injury. The Junior TE scored on an impressive corner route hook up against Cal last weekend. Perkins seems to be somewhat of a safety net for Cyler Miles. Even having Perkins pairing up with the ultra-talented Darrell Daniels, the Huskies have not gotten the same production out of this position as the Ducks have. Pharaoh Brown has been a presence over the middle of the field and in the red-zone for the Ducks. Expect another solid performance from Brown. Edge, Oregon.

Offensive Line. This was a tricky position to analyze for both teams. Both teams have experience, size, and athleticism across their offensive line. I gave the edge here to Washington’s line due to their more consistent performance this far in the season. Oregon’s line is probably the more talented group, but due to injuries they have not been able to get in rhythm and have struggled the past few weeks. It appears that the Ducks are getting healthier and Duck fans could see a much better performance from the lineman this week. Edge, Washington.

Defensive Line. Even against the almighty Oregon Ducks, the defensive line of Washington has consistently been one of the best in the nation. Danny Shelton and Hau’oli Kikaha will certainly make their presence felt this weekend; however, they need to focus and really wrap up Mariota. If they apply pressure and can’t bring him down or contain him it will be a very long day for the Husky defense. Oregon’s defensive line has played well all season long, but the edge here goes to two of the nation’s elite defensive lineman. Edge, Huskies.

Linebackers. The Washington Husky defense is 1st in the country in turnover margin, in large part due to the play of their linebackers. This group has scored 5 defensive touchdowns in 6 games (Shaq 4, Timu 1.) Led by Shaq Thompson, John Timu, and Travis Feeney this unit is experienced, talented, and supremely athletic. Edge, Huskies.

Defensive Secondary. It is scary how similar the Washington and Oregon defensive backfields are. Both boast potential first round cornerbacks in Marcus Peters and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. However, outside of that the other three positions are filled by relatively inexperienced players. Both teams have given up their fair share of yardage through the air, but have really improved in the last few weeks. This position group is a wash.

Special Team. Cameron Van Winkle had one of his two field goal attempts blocked last week at Cal. Coach Pete will have the blocking scheme cleaned up and ready to roll for Oregon this week. Van Winkle has been great this season place kicking and Korey Durkee has been spectacular punting the football. Oregon has a solid kicking game of their own. Matt Wogan is 3-4 on the season, and Ian Wheeler has performed admirably in his punting duties. The difference here is one player. And that player is John Ross III. Washington has the most electrifying player in the nation and he will be a huge threat on kick returns again this weekend.

Prediction:

Washington 28 Oregon 31

I think this game will be closer than most people expect. The Washington Husky defense will stand up once again and hold the Ducks to only 31 points. Expect Shelton and Kikaha to be disruptive along the defensive line just like they have all year long. Look for Shaq Thompson to make his presence felt with another key turnover, although I don’t think he gets in the end zone this week. Washington’s offense will struggle at times, but will be boosted by a long receiving touchdown and kickoff return by John Ross III. In the end, Mariota will escape the pressure applied by Shelton and Kikaha one too many times and lead the Ducks into field goal range where Matt Wogan will hit the game winner. Tough loss for the Huskies, but they will show a lot of promise for the future Chris Petersen teams. Go Dawgs!

PREVIEW AND PREDICTION: Washington @ Cal

Danny Shelton and the Husky Defense will need another stellar performance this week against Cal.

Danny Shelton and the Husky Defense will need another stellar performance this week against Cal.

Game: Washington Huskies @ California Golden Bears

Where: Berkeley, CA

When: October 11th, 3:00 pm

Channel: PAC-12 Networks

Line: Cal by 4 points

Game Storylines:

Will the Husky offense be improved? Will the Husky offense truly be improved, or will it only appear that way against the worst defense in the PAC-12? It is no secret that the Washington Huskies have struggled offensively this season. Husky fans have spent much of the bye week criticizing the play of quarterback, Cyler Miles, and the play-calling of offensive coordinator, Jonathan Smith. I would urge Husky Nation not to panic. Expect to see a much improved offense tomorrow against Cal. However, will the newfound offensive success be credited to coaching changes over the bye week? Or will our offense simply be a by-product of playing a very weak Cal defense? Only time will tell.

How will the Huskies young secondary respond after their first great performance? The inexperienced youth of the Washington Husky defensive backfield have been criticized heavily early on this season. However, these young Dawgs responded in a big way two weeks ago against Stanford. Three true freshman, Budda Baker, Sidney Jones, and Naijel Hale, started and played the best games of their young Husky careers. Enter Jared Goff and the high-flying Cal offense. How will these young Husky players respond to their first hint of success? Will they relapse under the constant pressure of Cal’s offense? Or will they continue gaining confidence and hold their ground?

Matchups:

2014 Matchup - UW vs Cal

Quarterback. Cyler Miles has struggled as a passer all year long. Outside of a few explosive plays to John Ross III, Miles has been relatively ineffective in the passing game. With that being said, look for Miles to have one of his better games against a porous Cal defense. Cal’s QB, Jared Goff, ranks third in the nation in passer efficiency with a 188.5. On top of that, the Cal offense ranks in the top 3 nation-wide  in every passing category. Edge goes to Cal here.

Running Backs. The Washington Huskies struggled to establish the run two weeks ago against an elite Stanford defense. However, expect Dwayne Washington and Lavon Coleman to find more running room against a more lenient Cal defense. Cal’s respectable running attack has been led by Daniel Lasco and Khalfani Muhammad. As a team, the Golden Bears are averaging 4.1 yards per carry and have scored eight touchdowns this season. The Huskies are averaging 4.3 yards per carry and have scored twelve touchdowns on the ground. Edge, Washington.

Wide Receivers. The Washington Husky receivers have struggled this season. Veterans Kasen Williams and Jaydon Mickens have failed to make their presence felt consistently. John Ross III has supplied the only excitement all year for the Husky offense, but he too has failed to perform consistently throughout the entirety of a game. The Cal receiving corps is a different story. Cal’s top five receivers have 15+ catches each on the season; more than all but one Husky WR.  Led by veterans Bryce Treggs, Kenny Lawler, and Chris Harper, the Cal passing attack is second to none…well maybe Washington State. But you get the point. Edge, Cal.

Tight End. Washington Huskies have a solid TE duo in sophomore receiving TE, Darrell Daniels, and senior blocking TE, Michael Hartvigson. It seems only a matter of time before Daniels has his breakout performance; don’t be surprised if that is the case tomorrow. Cal’s offense does not utilize a TE and does not even have a TE listed on their roster. Edge, Washington.

Offensive Line. Both teams have done a good job along the offensive line keeping their QB upright. The Huskies have given up 9 sacks and Cal has only given up 8 sacks. Considering how many times the Golden Bears pass, giving up only 8 sacks is fairly impressive. However, the Golden Bears have yet to face a defensive front like that of the Washington Huskies. In the end, I believe that the Washington offensive line’s ability to establish the running game will be the deciding factor in this game. Edge, Huskies.

Defensive Line. Not even a question here. Led by Danny Shelton and Hau’oli Kikaha, the Huskies defensive line has truly been one of the nation’s elite units. Washington ranks 3rd in the nation with 20 sacks on the season; it will be vital for the Huskies to apply pressure on Jared Goff and disrupt his timing. Cal’s defensive line has not performed well so far this season only sacking opposing quarterbacks 8 times. Edge, Washington.

Linebackers. The Washington Husky defense is 2nd in the country in turnover margin, in large part due to the play of their linebackers. This group has scored 4 defensive touchdowns in 5 games (Shaq 3, Timu 1.) Led by Shaq Thompson, John Timu, and Travis Feeney this unit is experienced, talented, and supremely athletic. Edge, Huskies.

Defensive Secondary. I can’t believe that I am actually going to do this…the edge here is going to the Huskies! The young Washington secondary have been targeted and exploited in nearly every game this season. However, coming off of their strongest performance of the year against Stanford these guys might have finally turned the page. With that being said, Cal is certainly going to rack up the yards and points with their potent passing attack. The only reason the Huskies are getting the edge here is simply because last week Cal gave up a NATIONAL RECORD 734 yards to Connor Halliday and the Washington State Cougars. Cal may have the worst pass defense in the nation. Edge, Washington.

Special Teams. Can John Ross III finally return a kickoff for a touchdown without having it negated for a penalty? Ross has been one of the country’s elite kick returners and expect for his impact to be felt tomorrow in Berkeley. Dante Pettis has shown that he is a dangerous punt returner rounding out a solid return game for the Huskies. Korey Durkee and Cameron Van Winkle have answered all of their critics and have played nearly flawless up to this point in the season. Cal’s special teams have been respectable all season, however, it does not have the same game-breaking potential as the Washington Huskies. Edge, Huskies.

Prediction:

Washington 48 Cal 45

It will be interesting to see how the Washington Huskies respond to their first road game in over a month. I believe that Coach Pete will have the Huskies locked in and ready to perform after the bye week. The Huskies will lean heavily on their run game while Cyler Miles shows improvement in the passing attack. Washington will once again rely on the offense to take care of the football and avoid turnovers. I expect the Huskies to win the turnover battle in Berkeley this weekend. With that being said, Cal will move the ball at will on this Husky defense; however, these Dawgs will bend but not break and come up with one big play to secure their 5th victory on the season. Go Dawgs!

HUSKIES BYE WEEK – Three Strengths and Weaknesses

Cyler Miles has received much criticism after the Huskies offense woes last weekend against Stanford.

Cyler Miles has received much criticism after the Huskies offense woes last weekend against Stanford.

Three Strengths:

  1. Defensive Line. The Husky defensive line has cemented themselves as one of the best units in the nation. Last weekend they performed admirably against a formidable Stanford offensive line. The Huskies defense has been able to consistently rush the passer led by nose tackle Danny Shelton and ‘buck’ end Hau’oli Kikaha. Shelton and Kikaha are tied for 3rd in the country with 7 sacks a piece. These two must continue this level of play looking forward to next week’s matchup against the pass-heavy California Golden Bears.
  2. Linebackers. The Dawgs boast one of the most talented linebacker units in the PAC-12 and perhaps the nation. There is plenty of experience and big-play potential between Shaq Thompson, John Timu, and Travis Feeney. The Washington Huskies rank 2nd in the FBS with a fabulous turnover margin of +2.20, thanks to the linebackers who have created 4 defensive TD’s this season. The Huskies will need to be on their ‘A-game’ against Cal; however, there will plenty of opportunities for this group to create turnovers and help out a struggling Husky offense.
  3. Special Teams. Obviously all fingers point to John Ross III and Dante Pettis starring in the Huskies electric return game. Both Ross III and Pettis have the ability to score from anywhere on the field and have proven to be consistent and deadly. With that being said, the play of punter Korey Durkee and kicker Cameron Van Winkle has been excellent. Durkee is averaging 42.4 yards per punt and has consistently pinned the opposing team deep in their own territory. Additionally, Van Winkle has been perfect on all 6 field goal attempts including a 51-yarder.

 

Three Weaknesses:

  1. Quarterback. Cyler Miles has received much criticism in light of recent offensive struggles, particularly last week against Stanford. I would remind Husky Nation that Stanford has the 2nd best defense statistically in the county and not to panic. We played a GREAT defense and we certainly struggled. With that being said, Miles needs to play better. More specifically, he needs to see the field and find the open receivers. Numerous times Miles has simply not seen wide open Husky receivers deep down the field. Now part of that is on the offensive line, Miles has to consistently take his eyes off of receivers early in order to avoid the rush. The struggles of the offense cannot simply be placed on a single person; however, Cyler Miles will need to improve if the Huskies wish to compete for the PAC-12 North this season.
  2. Wide Receivers. The Husky receivers have truly struggled this season. John Ross III has shown flashes of brilliance scoring four touchdowns of 55-yards or more. Ross III has proven to be one of the most electrifying players in the country; however, the Husky offense has not been able to get the ball to him consistently. On top of that, veteran receivers Kasen Williams and Jaydon Mickens have yet to make their presence felt. Both have struggled to build chemistry with Cyler Miles and be consistently effective throughout the entirety of a game. These Husky receivers need to do a better job creating space and creating easy throws to help out their young QB.
  3. Defensive Secondary. At one point last week against Stanford the Huskies had three true freshman in the secondary: Sidney Jones, Naijel Hale, and Budda Baker. The level of inexperience in the defensive backfield has been evident throughout the first five games of the season; however, all three played the best games of their young Husky careers. Matched up against Stanford’s big and athletic receivers like Ty Montgomery and Devon Cajuste, the young Dawgs held their own. This group is certainly improving, but their inconsistency and inexperience will continue to be exploited next week against the pass-happy Golden Bears.

Overall:

The Huskies are 4-1 which is exactly where they were expected to be on their bye week. Although it was not pretty in any shape or form, the Dawgs have continually found a way to win the games they were supposed to win. Personally, I don’t think this bye week could have come at a better point in the season. Coach Pete and his staff have plenty of game-film to analyze and will adjust accordingly. The additional week will be beneficial for all aspects of the offense, particularly the chemistry between Miles and his receivers. All in all, the Huskies are in a promising position. I remain optimistic that the offense will find its groove and the young secondary will continue to improve. Looking forward, I see the Huskies winning at least four of their last eight games. That would result in an 8-5 regular season record and a bowl game for a first year coach and QB in the ultra-competitive PAC-12. Not a terrible start to the Chris Petersen era if you ask me.