You may have noticed a little thing that the @sounderatheart Twitter feed and Facebook page was doing earlier this week. Whether it was Mass Effect, Star Trek, Firefly, Princess Bride, or LOTR, Sounders fans have called upon memories of Hollywood classics as a sort of inspiration. It is a good exercise. A healthy exercise. Because we are living a Hollywood movie today.
The Sounders have dug themselves an epically deep hole. Teams just don't come back from 3-0 deficits, especially when the team they are opposing has been playing some of the best soccer in the league for the past four months. Attacking with abandon is precarious, since any additional goal allowed would be another you would need to score just to tie up the series. Add in to that mix that the Galaxy is not a bad road team (positive road differential), that the Galaxy just won their previous series by dominating the Earthquakes on the road, that the Sounders have generally been poor in the playoffs, that the Sounders have scored few goals recently, the Sounders have some crucial players weakened by injury and another important cog suspended, and that the Sounders now have two straight losses to the Galaxy. Things look grim. Bleak. Hopeless. Dismal.
At least, that's what we are supposed to think.
Where's the fun in winning if you don't add some drama along the way?
In almost every Hollywood movie ever, there is a Darkest Hour. It is the point in the story where everything seems hopeless, that the ending will turn out depressing, that our heroes' journey will end as a downer. Think Return of the Jedi, with the Death Star operational and tearing through the Rebellion fleet, dying Ewoks on the ground, and Luke losing to Palpatine and Vader. Think Hercules, with Herc sapped of his power, Hades taking over Olympus, and the Titans running wild. Think Serenity, with the crew being hunted and forced to go on one last suicide mission. Think every Lord of the Rings story, every James Bond story, every Batman story, every Harry Potter story. Think about every RomCom you've seen; the Darkest Hour is that part where the protagonists have so screwed up their relationship that you don't see how they could recover. You could come up with countless other examples from comic books, video games, television, literature, and whatever other media you desire. If something has a story, there is almost certainly bound to be a Darkest Hour.
But, because you are a smart viewer, you always have hope. Because you know that Hollywood ending is coming. You know that, much more likely than not, your heroes are going to fight through that adversity and become Big Damn Heroes.
Unfortunately, real life is not quite like the movies.
But there is hope.
We do not even have to look far to see how such a desperate situation has played out before. We need only look back to the USMNT's run at the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa. The U.S. lost both opening games of the group stage, falling 1-3 to Italy and 0-3 to Brazil. The stars and stripes were effectively eliminated, having 0 points and -5 GD. It was their Darkest Hour. Had the U.S. been humiliated by Egypt, Bob Bradley might have been fired much sooner. To move on, the U.S. needed to beat Egypt by at least 3-0, just to eliminate Egypt, and then would need help as Brazil would have to beat Italy by at least 3 to eliminate Italy. Lo and behold, the United States played one of their finest games under Bob Bradley, getting goals from Charlie Davies, Michael Bradley, and Clint Dempsey for a resounding victory over Egypt, while Italy somehow capitulated to Brazil, also losing 3-0. Two 3-0 victories, both exactly what the U.S. needed to advance! I still find it nearly unbelievable. Disregard that the Confederations Cup is not taken as a very serious international tournament, as the teams involved clearly want to win.
After barely scraping through the group stage, nobody gave the U.S. a puncher's chance of getting past Spain, the global heavyweight sitting on an undefeated streak seemingly a mile long, especially with how the U.S. had fared earlier in the tourney. But wow, will I ever remember Jozy Altidore shrugging off his defender and burying a clean finish from the top of the 18. The U.S. withstood Spain's attack, and added a consolation goal from Clint Dempsey, sending them to a rematch with Brazil. The U.S. had shocked the world. They continued to build respect by building an early 2-0 lead against Brazil, carrying it into halftime. The Brazilians would go on to win 3-2, but the U.S. made waves, and came back from the brink in their Darkest Hour.
We are poised for a Hollywood ending. A come back would be epic; to do it at home in front of 40,000+ is even sweeter. But whatever happens, ladies and gentlemen, however our season ends, It Has Been An Honor.