Coach Sigi Schmid knows exactly what he wants to do. He wants to help write an epic tale that will be retold for decades.
Remember this season? You know the 63 points. The US Open Cup. Winning in Mexico. Winning in Portland. Winning in Salt Lake. Winning in Vancouver. Winning in Costa Rica. Winning in Kansas City. Crushing the Columbus Crew. That's this season. Today Sigi Schmid said that's the type of team he wants the Seattle Sounders to be again.
I think the guys are well aware of what they didn't do well on Saturday night. That's been made really clear to them. We got rid of that on Monday before practice. The rest of Monday and today the focus is on us doing what we do, us playing our game. Sixty-three points is a lot. We've been a good team throughout the season. We need to get back to that. We need to remember what made us a good team and what made us dangerous and what made us successful.
And yet Saturday happened. It was brutal. It was as down as this team, this community has been since mid-May. It evoked images of failures in Playoffs past. Playoff failures throughout Seattle sports history. A reminder of our collective down notes.
Randal Graves: Which did you like better? Jedi or The Empire Strikes Back?
Dante Hicks: Empire.
Randal Graves: Blasphemy!
Dante Hicks: Empire had the better ending. I mean, Luke gets his hand cut off, finds out Vader's his father, Han gets frozen and taken away by Boba Fett. It ends on such a down note. I mean, that's what life is, a series of down endings. All Jedi had was a bunch of Muppets.
That's from Kevin Smith's classic indie film Clerks. Dante has been beaten down. He'd lost all the hope. What he doesn't mention, is that Star Wars IV: A New Hope raised the bar. Everyone who saw that was so high. The expectations were that this new group, this rebuilt group of history was going to take down the mighty, the powerful, the usurpers. The down endings were so significant because of the size of the greatness that had been achieved. Without those successes the down times don't mean as much.
Schmid noted Monday the goals for the second leg are quite simple.
... we’ve done it two years in a row and we’re behind right now in year three 3-0. Everything sets up an opportunity so we have an opportunity here on Wednesday to come up with a great result. Hopefully, if we have a result that we want to have, it will be a game that people will remember for a long, long time. So that’s our objective—to create a game that you’re not going to forget for a long time.
Today, he referenced it again. This time building up on the potential for something epic. Because that's the goal for the Sounders now. They are targeting the epic. Being great will not be good enough.
We are going to come up with a good result tomorrow. Sometimes to do outstanding things or to do miracles you have to set the stage. We certainly have set the stage so now it’s up to us to come through and show our tenacity as a team and show our determination as a team.
That's what Empire did. That's what Saturday did. Three booming deep down notes. Things are fairly bleak in Sounder-land these days. Recently one of our greats is out, as Mauro Rosales can not play. A team that worked so well together faded, failed and ran away from the desired result.
There's a reason to hold faith in the team. Because in a world with real down notes our team can be a symbol for much more than just sport. In a world of late rallies in the 9th, of two goals after the 90th minute to rally for victory it is the emotional highs that a sport can give us.
Coach Schmid's plan for tomorrow is simple;
You've got to score one, and then the next one and the next one... it's a matter that we know we're not going to get three goals in five minutes either. It's a work in process. It's going to be 90 minutes of work and we've got to get our goals from different places. We've got to get them from run of play. We've got to be dangerous on our corners. We've got to be dangerous on our set pieces. We've got to keep the pressure on them and not give anything up. On the same token we've got to carry the game to it, fueled on by our efforts and fueled by our crowd.
That's the thing that Dante ignores about Jedi. It didn't just have "a bunch of Muppets." It capped an epic saga, an American Legend, and ended the way great stories should. Sometimes that happens in real life. That's why Return of the Jedi was better than Empire. Victory on Wednesday in leg two will do the same thing. It will confirm that sports in Seattle isn't just a series of down notes, but instead a city capable of great legends.