A collective weight seems to have been lifted off the Seattle Sounders' shoulders.
Over the first three years of their MLS existence, the Sounders had started to be defined almost as much by their playoff failures as by their successes elsewhere.
The win over Real Salt Lake changes that narrative, possibly forever.
"We needed to get over this hump more than anything," Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid told reporters after Thursday's game. "Winning this game is really important for our development as a team."
Interestingly enough, it was some of the Sounders' failures earlier this year that helped get them to this point.
"When we lost the Open Cup this year on penalty kicks, which we were down about, it was something that we still have to win one trophy this year and that's not the one," Schmid said. "Let's go after the other one.
"There was a quiet confidence in this team that they really want that. Getting over this hurdle today will do oodles for our confidence and will really help us when we go onto the next series."
Not only did the Sounders prove to themselves that they could win a playoff series, but they did it by winning on the road against a team that has one of the biggest home-field advantages in MLS. Dating back to 2008, RSL has gone 49-9-22 in the regular season and had never lost a playoff game at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Among RSL's home playoff wins was a 3-0 dismantling of the Sounders a year ago.
The Sounders are now hoping to take their newfound confidence into a series against the LA Galaxy, another team that previously knocked them out of the playoffs.
"Nothing is done yet," Sounders forward Fredy Montero told Sounders' website. "We want to go to the final."