SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 05: Head coach Sigi Schmid of the Seattle Sounders FC looks on during the match against the Los Angeles Galaxy at CenturyLink Field on August 5, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. The Sounders defeated the Galaxy 4-0. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
It's early in the stretch run of a season that MLS puts forth as a marathon. In a season where Seattle fell short of two trophies already (Open Cup, 11/12 CCL) they still are capable of two more major trophies as well as the Cascadia Cup. Travel concerns essentially end in September, unless the Sounders are on the road for the MLS Cup Final, which is travel that any fan, supporter, player, coach or front office personnel would love to be forced upon them.
Entering Saturday's games the fortunes for a great September are looking strong. In August the team exceeded reasonable expectations in league and CCL play while falling barely short of the Open Cup. Exceed expectations in the last month of Summer will mean that Seattle is set for a run at all of the trophies left. Match expectations and Seattle has a shot at a major trophy and the Cascadia Cup. Even a poor month would still leave Seattle with a shot at the MLS Cup.
|San Jose Earthquakes||Home||1.92||1.54||0.46||2.00||1.27|
|Seattle Sounders FC||1.72||2.08||1.38||1.60||1.04|
First up is a game where the numbers say that Seattle should be clear favorites. Those numbers are probably wrong. FC Dallas isn't that bad anymore. It's going to be very hot in Dallas. A brief heat wave is rolling through North Texas and the temperatures in Trinidad will be 10-15 degrees cooler than it will be in Friso tomorrow evening. It was in the mid80s in Trinidad. Picking up the 3 points expected in this one will be tougher than the base numbers make it out to be.
Chivas USA is in freefall. Their GM has reportedly been fired, but he's still around the team. They are essentially eliminated from the MLS Cup Playoffs, but are a bit better on the road than at home. The Sounders handled them easily in Carson. That does not mean it will be easy at Century Link. Still, you should expect 3 points.
Then we enter games where numbers are nearly meaningless. Cascadia Cup games, particularly for a desperate team near the bottom of the table with players that are trying out for a new coach you can not assume the numbers. The Portland Timbers are a good home team. While the Sounders are a good road team, and better overall than Portland, this is a match where the early expectations should only be for a draw. If Sigi leads Seattle to 3 points the Cascadia Cup driver's seat will be captured.
CCL play resumes with a trip to Honduras. It is the last long trip of 2012. Marathon is pretty poor right now. They are 1-5-0 -8 GD entering Saturday's match. Seattle knows Honduras well due to scouting those players and recent addition Mario Martinez could help a bit as well. A win there and the 2012-13 CONCACAF Knockouts are assured. Still, it's a match in Central America. A draw is all that you should expect.
For the Supporters' Shield to be attained the Sounders will need a win against their second to last opponent. The San Jose Earthquakes control their own destiny. To capture that destiny the Sounders will need to take advantage of home field conditions, capturing the Heritage Cup and earn the 3 points. The numbers say that the Rave Green should get 3 points and make the October stretch run a race to the finish.
Seattle's last road Cascadia Cup match ends September. The struggling Vancouver Whitecaps are likely to still be in the MLS Cup Playoffs, but they are backing in at this time. A few unfortunate results and by the time this match is played they will be battling Dallas for the final spot. Like Portland, they are a strong home team. Sagarin only expects a single point. That won't be enough to clinch the Cascadia Cup.
The numbers say an 11 point month is in store with 8-14 being reasonable. If the Seattle Sounders exceed that 11 they will be in the contest for the Shield, even at 11 they'll have a chance to host the MLS Cup Final. It isn't the stretch run, but it is that final turn.