Halfway Point of 2014 MLS Season

We are almost halfway through the MLS regular season and teams are starting to show their worth in the league. On top of the Eastern Conference is the New England Revolution and then Sporting Kansas City right on their tails. In the West, there is the Seattle Sounders dominating the competition and the entire league with 10 wins, 3 losses and 2 ties. They are the only team in the league with double-digit wins. They are also the only team in the league averaging more than 2 goals a game.

Leading the Sounders are Obafemi Martins and U.S.A. superstar Clint Dempsey. Martins has played and started in all 15 games and has 8 goals with 6 assists. Dempsey has only started 8 games, but yet he has 8 goals also as well as 3 assists credited to his name. This one-two punch of Martins and Dempsey is the reason why Seattle is dominating the league in scoring goals. For defense, goalkeeper Stefan Frel is 7th in the league in saves, 7th in shutouts and 12th in goals allowed. They might not be incredible stats, but Seattle’s offense is the main reason why they have been winning so many games.

As far as the best striker in the game, Bradley Wright-Phillips of New York is tied with Dom Dwyer of Kansas City for the most goals with 11. Diego Valeri of Portland leads the league in assists with 8. The midfielder from Argentina also has two goals to his name.

The Eastern Conference still looks to be the weaker region in the league. Six teams have losing records while the West only has three teams that are below .500. Toronto F.C. has the best defense in the league, allowing only 13 goals scored against them. The problem is that their offense has not very productive as they are second to last in goals scored. That has given them the result of a 6-4-1 record.

Goalkeeper Luis Robles of the New York Red Bulls leads the league in saves with 53 and Jon Busch of San Jose looks to be a dominant keeper as well with 49 saves and only 14 goals scored against him. He also has four shutouts to his name. The only problem for Busch is his Earthquakes’ offense. They have only scored 15 goals this entire season which has put them at second-to-last in the Western Conference standings.

The player to watch out for is Obafemi Martins. When Dempsey is not on the field, Martins becomes the ultimate play-maker for Seattle. If he keeps playing like he is now, the Sounders could go as far as the championship game. Keep your eyes peeled on teams like D.C. United, New York and Portland who are right on the cusp of making the playoffs. The rest of this season will definitely be fun to watch for these reasons listed above.


Christian Athlete of the Week: Troy Polamalu

The return of football season is coming along with OTAs starting back up this week. That’s why we’re going to focus on a football player for Christian Athlete of the Week. This athlete is Troy Polamalu, the future Hall-of-Fame safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Polamalu is of American Samoan descent, in case you couldn’t notice by his last name and his long hair. Polamalu is actually his mother’s maiden name and he was raised by his mother’s brother in southern Oregon. Polamalu played at USC and was drafted 16th overall by the Steelers in the 2003 NFL Draft. He hardly saw the field his rookie year, but in 2004, he started every game and intercepted five passes, returning one of them for a touchdown.

The year 2005 was when Polamalu really came on the scene. He tied an NFL record with three sacks in a single game by a safety and finished with 91 total tackles. He was also part of the Super Bowl-winning team that beat Seattle 21-10 that year. 2008 was probably Polamalu’s most memorable year. He finished the regular season with 17 passes defended and seven interceptions. Not only that, but he helped guide the Steelers to another Super Bowl title when they beat the Arizona Cardinals that year. In 2010, Polamalu won Defensive Player of the Year Award for defending 11 passes, intercepting seven of them, returning one of them for a touchdown and recording a sack as well. That year didn’t work out for him and his team in postseason when they lost to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl. As of right now, Polamalu has 32 career interceptions and 12 sacks. He has been the backbone of Pittsburgh’s defense for many years and still has some good years left in him at the age of 33.

In 2007, Polamalu and his wife dedicated their lives to Christ by converting to Orthodox Christianity. That same year, he took a pilgrimage to Orthodox Christian sites in Greece and Turkey. He seldom gives interviews, but when he does, he often speaks of the role his spirituality plays in his life. Polamalu has said that he tries to separate himself from his profession as much as possible, including not watching football games at home. He prays after each play and on the sidelines. Here is a video that better explains his spiritual walk with Christ:

A soft spoken man who has dealt with the issue of pride, Polamalu has tried his best to live his life for Christ on and off the football field. Some people say that Orthodox Christianity is not necessarily the same as the Christian faith theologically and Biblically, but Polamalu disagrees.

“Orthodoxy is like an abyss of beauty that’s just endless,” Polamalu said. “I have read the Bible many times. But after fasting, and being baptized Orthodox, it’s like reading a whole new Bible. You see the depth behind the words so much more clearly.” (Credit: Patheos.com)

As long as your lifestyle is pleasing to God, it does not matter what denomination you follow. Speaking of lifestyle, Polamalu does lead an interesting one. During his free time, he surfs, grows flowers, makes furniture and plays the piano. Talk about the most interesting man in the world! All jokes aside, Polamalu lives his life with a passion for Jesus Christ, which is something all young athletes can look up to.