The moment that game started, I was certain we were going to lose (despite my less-than-pessimistic prediction last week). The first 10 minutes, it seemed like it was going to be another one of those days against LA. Another embarrassing playoff exit at the hands of Bruce Arena's Galaxy. And then we got one. And then we got another. And then we were absolutely battering them! Hope restored! Optimism! And then Juninho scored, it all got a bit desperate, and we were out. Just like that. Sports pessimism restored.
I've run the gamut of emotions since the final whistle on Sunday, but as I look back on it, I don't really know how I feel. The best way I can describe it is... well, I felt like Indiana Jones at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark. After a long, hard slog through the jungle, he retrieves the idol, only to have it snatched away at his moment of triumph. At 2-0, we had grabbed the idol. And then Juninho snatched it from our hands as we were forced to run for our lives. Except, instead of making it to the plane, we tripped and drowned in the lake.
Initially, I was devastated by the outcome. I stormed off by myself, only just resisting the urge to tell the jubilant Galaxy fans just exactly where they could stick Landon Donovan. A day later, I'm still bitterly disappointed that we couldn't finish our chances in the first leg, or turn a 25- to 30-minute period of utter dominance in the second into more goals. We had every opportunity to reach the Final, and we didn't take them. So, yeah, I'm upset. I'm really upset. I never wanted to spend $50 so badly in my life. At least we weren't embarrassed. Right?
Disregarding all of that for a moment, I refuse to let another playoff exit obscure what has been an absolutely phenomenal season. By almost any measure, the 2014 Seattle Sounders are one of the greatest teams in the history of the League. We saw some absolutely delicious football being played both home and away, had some of the most memorable sporting moments of my life (4-4 in Portland stands out amongst all of them), and won a pair of trophies along the way. I'm very proud of what the team accomplished this season, and I have high hopes for what's to come. With the promise of more DP slots (according to Taylor Twellman) and a higher salary cap, I can only imagine what Adrian and Co. have been cooking up. I trust that they're going to get it right.
A quick word on the roster: I have to assume that we're going to see a fair amount of turnover this offseason. I wouldn't be surprised to see four of our starting back five replaced - Leo's legs have gone, Zach Scott is 35 and probably part cyborg, Yedlin is off to Europe, and I have a hunch Frei will either be left unprotected and picked, or let go. So, that's four first-choice players that will need to be replaced, plus Traore, and perhaps Anibaba (who I assume is either gone or will have his salary reduced). We also are crying out for a winger, and with Evans possibly moving to right back, we'll likely need two wide players, whether they are from the academy or brought in from outside. That's not even mentioning the Expansion Draft. Yikes.
To Adrian, the other Owners, Sigi, the Coaches/Staff, and to every single player that represented this City and this Football Club in 2014: Thank you for one of the best seasons I've ever had. It' was one hell of a ride.