There will be plenty of time to parse out all of the Sounders' best-case and doomsday scenarios in the coming days. This Monday morning, let's widen the lens and take a quick look elsewhere in the world of soccer.

Share story

So … who’s ready for Decision Day?!

There’s something fitting in this Sounders season, of all Sounders seasons, coming down to the bitter end, with Seattle needing a home win over Real Salt Lake this weekend to ensure its eighth consecutive postseason berth.

But we’ll have plenty of time to parse out all of the best-case and doomsday scenarios in the coming days. This Monday morning, let’s widen the lens and take a quick look elsewhere in the world of soccer with the best reads of the past week.

– I would posit that EA Sports’ FIFA video game series has helped accelerate the game’s growth in this country more than just about anything other than the USMNT’s continued streak of World Cup qualifications. And it turns out that the highly popular video game is actually having a direct influence on the way the game itself is played. Rory Smith of the New York Times pieces together the fascinating ways in which the FIFA video games are influencing everybody from players themselves to front offices around the world.

Also from Smith: “Premier League stars score the goals. He scores everything else.”

Former USWNT star Abby Wambach opens up about her addiction to painkillers and alcohol, providing a revealing look at the all-time leading international goal-scorer. She also continues to rail against players from dual-nationalities representing the U.S. men’s national team, which was less well-received in some quarters.

– Closer to home, ESPNFC’s Jeff Carlisle breaks down the inexact science that the Sounders mastered in helping Nicolas Lodeiro hit the ground running in MLS. The story includes the following insightful passage from former Seattle and current FC Dallas midfielder Mauro Rosales, who is originally from Argentina.

“I think (the language) is the most important thing,” Rosales told Carlisle. “Not just because you need it to survive, but to communicate with your teammates in the game, with the referees, with the coaches, everyone that you want to explain about your situation or what you think about the soccer, what you think about you playing, everything. … You need it for everything.”

– Less than 10,000 people attended the USMNT’s friendly against New Zealand last Tuesday at RFK Stadium. Where is everybody? Steven Goff of the Washington Post explains why attendance at U.S. men’s soccer friendlies continues to lag.

Also from Goff, on former Sounder and Tacoma native Lamar Neagle: “Neagle is red-hot. So why isn’t he starting? Because D.C. United is red-hot, too.”

“I’ve done it throughout my career where I am in and out of starting lineups,” Neagle said, “so I’ve dealt with the whole mental part of it, knowing when I got on the field, I’ve got to take my chances whenever I can.”

– Speaking of D.C., an escalating feud over stadium design is threatening D.C. United’s plans for a new home, throwing into doubt what would be a huge boon to MLS in one of the league’s most promising markets.

– I very much enjoyed Sid Lowe’s profile of Manchester City’s Nolito — product of Cádiz, “down in Spain’s south-west where funny comes as standard” — for the Guardian ahead of this week’s showdown with Barcelona in the Champions League. The tale of a late-blooming career well-told, from an impoverished upbringing to a belated rise into the game’s elite.

–  Oliver Brown’s column for the London Telegraph explains why the “sleazy, tawdry, deeply unedifying tale” of Ched Evans — a Chesterfield forward recently found not guilty of rape — shows “just how sick football culture in Britain is.”

Shameless plug of the week: My Friday feature from this past weekend explained how type-1 diabetes has shaped Sounders rookie Jordan Morris into the player he is today.

Classic read of the week: For insight on the soccer culture that produced Lodeiro, Jonathan Wilson’s breakdown of the history of the Uruguayan national team — “the legacy of that win when all circumstance was against it” — is worth your time.