Tukwila – What should you do if you’re a fan of the Sounders and see your team shelling out in March, April and May?
What would you do if the spring results are as gloomy as this year’s spring skies?
The answer is simple, really: You load up on summer tickets to Lumen Field, knowing the squad is going to shoot up the standings like a Cape Canaveral rocket.
Take 2016, for example, when the Sounders won only six of their first 21 MLS games, three of which were ties. They finished fourth in the Western Conference standings before winning their first MLS Cup in Toronto.
Or 2017, when the Sounders won five of their first 18 games, tying six times in that period. They finished second in the standings before losing to Toronto in the MLS Cup Final.
And then there was 2018, when the Sounders won four of their first 15 games, tied three times and finished second in the standings. They again finished second in the West before losing to the Timbers in the semi-finals of the conference.
In other words, there was no reason to panic this season when Seattle started 2022 4-1-6.
“We get angry,” said Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer, “but we don’t panic.”
During the above three years, the Sounders were one of the most surprising teams in American professional sports. With talent, they would find a way to complicate the first half of the season, as if they were replacement players for a group of starters on strike. Then in the second half, they will look like they are ready for 90 minutes with FC Barcelona.
To be fair, this hasn’t happened in the last three seasons. He made an impressive start in 2019 and went on to win the MLS Cup No. They were similarly better in the first half of 2020 before losing in the MLS Cup final. But Schmetzer smiled when referring to last season, when Seattle set a league record by going unbeaten in their first 13 games, only to be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. When he first took over as coach in 2016 it was the reversal of all the success that he had enjoyed.
Right now, the Sounders are following the blueprint for those seasons. They lead 6-2-6 after enjoying two wins and one draw in their last three matches. Granted, there’s a Saturn-sized excuse for a slow start to MLS play this year – the Sounders were busy winning the CONCACAF Champions League title, which could be the most coveted championship they’ve ever held.
Still, they seem more accustomed to growing after struggling than any other club in MLS.
“It’s not something we’re planning,” said Sounders attacker Jordan Morris. “But I think we are made for moments like the end of the season and the playoffs and the tournaments you see. We start to raise it a little. ,
A little more than It’s hard to argue that the Sounders haven’t played the best segment of football in the league over the past six seasons. Six playoff appearances, four MLS Cup appearances and two MLS Championships solidify that case. And given the CCL title they won over Mexico City-based Pumas in May, a third MLS Cup could tip 2022 down as the best season ever produced by a team in this league.
But are they really “built” for the playoffs? Not that Sounders general manager Garth Legerve went out of his way to select players who idle early and pace late. Perhaps, though – veterans like Morris, Christian Roldan and Stephen Frey have faced all the trials and ups the season has faced over the past several seasons – they are more ready For the second half sprint compared to the other 27 teams in MLS.
“I think ‘made’ might be a good word to describe it, but I think we’ve experienced enough of those big moments because we’ve been through them,” Schmetzer said. “Just the history of this club … we know.”
Sounders lead scorer Raul Ruidiaz will be ruled out with a hamstring injury on Saturday when Sounders Sporting host Kansas City. But the team as a whole is relatively healthy and has midfielder Nico Lodeiro – arguably its best player – whose surgery on his right knee limited him to only four starts last season.
Everything is in place for another deep run. The Sounders’ early shortcomings should never let their fans down—if anything, they should be pumped.