Just a few weeks ago there was a preview of this MLS Cup Western Conference Finals. Seattle Sounders FC won the Supporters' Shield pushing past the LA Galaxy with what in essence was a 4-2 aggregate series. It seems inevitable that the two teams would face off again in the playoffs. In a pure-seeding system that would be in a one-off final. Instead the nation gets twice the soccer between two of the best teams in MLS history, one with a chance at a treble.
Ever since the Sounders entered MLS, the Galaxy were the measure. Other teams have done quite well. Chicago and DC both have claim to dynasties, but the power of the current Galaxy empire can not be doubted.
Two MLS Cups, two Supporters' Shields, one other appearance in the MLS Cup Finals that didn't win the title, three regular seasons they topped the West, and three appearances in the CONCACAF Champions League all going to the knockout round. They've won the most games and earned the most points in MLS play from 2009 to present.
The list of players on their roster in that time is full of United States National Team players and former EPL greats. Donovan, Beckham, Keane, Gonzalez, even AJ DeLaGarza and Edson Buddle.
It's a hell of a dynasty.
Until this season Seattle was clearly in the shadow. Sounders FC were second in wins and points. Adrian, Sigi & Co collected Open Cup success; they got rich off of it, making the CCL in 2010, 2011, 2012 and now in 2015. There they made history by beating a Liga MX team in Mexico, having a perfect Group Stage, and becoming the first MLS team to eliminate a Mexican opponent. It was all impressive, but it was not enough.
LA loomed over them. The Galaxy could point to their stars, their championships. They could sit on the throne and laugh at the upstart with goals of becoming an empire.
Until this year.
The Supporters' Shield goes a long way toward judging what Hanauer, Roth, Carey, Schmid, et al. did when starting this thing on its way. But it is not enough for them. The treble is clearly the goal, especially now that it's so much in sight. There is a chance at greatness that is rare in sport, and would be a first in MLS.
It only fits that LA would sit in that path. Roth and Carey treat LA as home. Sigi has feelings of being hard-done by the Galaxy in the past. But more than that, the fans of Seattle know LA sports dominates the West Coast. Whether it's the Lakers, the 1980s Raiders, the Bruins, the Trojans, the Dodgers or the Angels we've seen the shadow of that Hollywood sign as we look up much more often than we look down. It's Los Angeles, a place that even when it sets a movie or TV show in Seattle doesn't often bother to come to Seattle (yes, that's probably Vancouver you saw). Our home, our Sound, is just a scene setting device.
Even in roster construction the goal to match the Galaxy is apparent (and we'll get much more into that). They have Landon, so Roth wanted Clint. They have Keane, so the quest for a Keane turned into Oba. They have Omar, so Sigi grabbed Chad Marshall.
For Seattle to earn the chance to take them all, the path had to go through Los Angeles. It is the only way exorcise demons, but it is also the path to new empire. The sun can set on the Galaxy, but only if it is Sounders in that MLS Cup.
It's cliche, but also a necessary truth - to be the best, you have to beat the best.
Three matches away from the opportunity to make claims of greatness. It has to go through LA, because anything else would be uncivilized.