The Supporters' Shield is not the MLS Cup. It's silly to pretend otherwise. No matter what fans, players or coaches may believe, the reality is that only one team gets to call themselves MLS champions at the end of the year and that is the winner of that game in December.
But let's not let that disrupt our celebration today or even cloud the way we look back on this season. The Sounders did something that only one team before had ever done: win the Shield and U.S. Open Cup in the same season. Only six teams have won the Shield and MLS Cup in the same season and the Sounders will try to become just the third team to do that in the past 12 years. It almost goes without saying, then, that the Sounders are also trying to make very real North American soccer history by becoming the first team to win the domestic treble.
No matter what happens from here on out, the Sounders have made a place in history for themselves.
The Shield by itself should ensure that. The Sounders made it through the 34-game slog undeniably the most consistent team. It wasn't always pretty -- there was that five-game run shortly after the World Cup break that saw the Sounders claim just four points -- but they did enough to earn this honor, and hold their heads high in the process.
When you couple that with the U.S. Open Cup trophy, it's a real testament to the squad the Sounders built this offseason. Guys like Kenny Cooper, Chad Barrett, Djimi Traore, Jalil Anibaba, Andy Rose, Micheal Azira -- the list goes on -- may not have played in this game, but they played massive roles in allowing the Sounders to get here. All of them contributed big goals or at least important minutes along the way and without them there's no way this team would be where it is now. The Cup-Shield double highlights the team's depth in a way that even a MLS Cup wouldn't.
That the Sounders managed to pull this off in the way they did -- by claiming four points against a Galaxy team that posted a +32 goal difference, the second best in league history -- only serves to cement the legitimacy of the title.
And, yet, there's an undeniable sense that there's still more work to do. Aside from celebrating on the field with fans, the Sounders were actually pretty subdued in the postgame locker room. Music blared and everyone had a big smile on their face, but there were no champagne showers or suggestions that the rest was just a bonus.
"We're always trying to make history," DeAndre Yedlin said. "Sigi always says it's great to be the first at something. We're just trying to be hella greedy."