What do I say about the Seattle Sounders playoff exit that hasn't already been said? It's an unfortunate reality that the season is over, that LA Galaxy defeated the Sounders due to the away goals rule, but it's one with which we live. Nobody worried about how our offense would do, just our defense.
In the playoffs, against the 1st and 4th best offenses in MLS, Seattle only allowed 3 goals: a penalty, a deflected shot, and a wonderful strike through traffic that deflected off the post. Stefan Frei looked amazing. Chad Marshall looked amazing. DeAndre Yedlin looked amazing. Zach Scott and Leo Gonzalez both performed admirably though I doubt anybody would say either was amazing, despite being constantly matched up against younger, faster players.
It's unfortunate that the dynamic Hydra is what ultimately was left for wanting. They generated opportunity after opportunity, which is what we expected, just the (un)luck and randomness in soccer was not in Seattle's favor. The reality of MLS Cup Playoffs is luck goes a long way. Had Jaime Penedo not made one of those two instinctual saves against MVP Obafemi Martins and USMNT Captain Clint Dempsey in the first game of the two-legged matchup, Seattle would be in their first MLS Cup final. Had Dempsey not been offside by a slim margin during that 1st half stretch in Sunday's 2-1 Sounders victory, we might be talking about a 3-1 victory instead.
Soccer is fickle. The best team doesn't always win. A few years back in 2011 underdogs Birmingham City defeated Arsenal 2-1 in the League Cup, thanks to an Oba goal. Even on Sunday, Chelsea, of the EPL, was held scoreless this season for the first time against lowly Sunderland. In the 4th round of the 2014 US Open Cup, Portland Timbers defeated Orlando City U23's. Upsets happen.
I know what you're probably saying: this season LA Galaxy fielded one of the best teams ever to play in the MLS, so losing to them 2-2 in a two-legged series is hardly an upset. In the first leg, Seattle was on its heels thanks to not having Osvaldo Alonso and Lamar Neagle and their ability to relieve pressure and quickly transition defense into offense, yet despite that Seattle was still considered unlucky to not have scored a pivotal away goal. In the second leg, LA was on its heels thanks to Seattle outperforming them and exploiting space and were lucky to only give up two goals in the first half.
But Seattle didn't get blown out, so yay. LA wasn't bailed out by a bullshit penalty by pointy-shouty Robbie Keane, so yay. LA was largely ineffectual against Seattle and it has been much of the same in the past four meetings. Their offense was neutered and it took four midfield goals in order to not embarrass themselves. Four midfield goals which came off deflections, missed clearances, or having the ball fall in the right place for them. Keane, Landon Donovan, Gyasi Zardes, and Alan Gordon proved they cannot break down Seattle's defense. That's what hurts the most of this loss: Seattle tactically outplayed LA in this series and the season finales which resulted in winning the Supporter's Shield. This was our season, our chance at the treble. Alas, it was not in the stars.
This playoff exit, the lack of hoisting an MLS Cup Trophy in Seattle, does not take anything away from the accomplishments Seattle had this season. They won the US Open Cup Trophy. They ended the season as Supporters Shield Champions. They earned a Pot A spot in the CONCACAF Champions League. They sold a homegrown player from the Sounders Academy to a Premier League team. They set the record for most goals scored. They set the record for Wins. Two players beat the team record for most goals in a season. Their player won Defender of the Year. We'll probably have a league MVP as well, and win another Goal of the Year award. 2014 was a monumental success.
It's hard to say if 2015 will be better. Two of three domestic trophies is hard to do. But the Sounders have as good a chance at anybody. They've got a very talented team and are sitting on a mountain of allocation monies. They have some of the best homegrown prospects in the game. They have the best ownership group in the game. They have the best fans in the game.
So yeah, it sucks to go home earlier than we had anticipated. It sucks not to watch our Sounders fight for the chance to lift the MLS Cup Trophy at Century Link Field. It sucks that our season has a taint to it, because that's the last thing it deserves. I'll hold my head high. I'll talk to people about how this Sounders team was champions, and I'll say that with pride. And come next year, I'll scream and I'll shout with as much passion as I can muster, with as much verve as I hold in my body; vim and vigor and all that jazz.
Sadly, Sunday marked the final time some Sounders will wear the Rave Green. Yedlin will move on to bigger and better (after he's transferred from Tottenham, amirite?). Djimi Traore is hanging up his boots after a stellar career. Perhaps Marcus Hahnemann will retire, same as Zach Scott. Surely Seattle will lose a player or two in the Expansion draft, as well as just the normal wheeling and dealing of the MLS offseason. Maybe even Sigi Schmid retires. This truly was the best Sounders team I've ever witnessed, and I'm glad I was lucky enough to catch a few games and root them on.
Lastly, thank you guys for reading these articles of mine game in and game out. It was a therapeutic place for me to come and get out my feelings in one form or another. Sometimes those articles worked, sometimes they were rather awkward, but you came back and I'm grateful. I love this community, I love this team.
Born in 1974, Sounders! Sounders!
I'm a Sounder ‘til I die.
I'm a Sounder, all blue and green.
Eternal Blue, Forever Green.
You'll never yacht alone.
Choosy moms choose gif
2013 left a sour taste in our mouths.
But it's clear this team is much different from past versions.
We struggled out of the gate a bit, but we didn't worry.
The Hydra showed itself early, mixing grace with brutality.
The World Cup distracted us, but we were still focused on the tasks at hand.
Though we stumbled when the team finally all got together again.
We won the US Open Cup and earned our way back to the CCL.
We continued to excel while those around us fell along the wayside.
The end of the season was tense, maybe a little too tense.
But there was release after the Supporters Shield victory, and boy was it sweet.
Despite the playoff exit, Seattle achieved a lot this season.
There might be some who want to tear the team apart and start from scratch.
Which is an insane idea.
Seriously, that idea is idiotic. Snap out of it.
Others will have faith in the players and staff and front office to make 2015 a remarkable year.
So here's to the success of 2014.
And here's to the successes of our future.
Let's get as many trophies as possible.
And in doing so introduce ourselves to the rest of the world with a bang.
No, really, let's get all four next season.
And, just for fun, here's a gratuitous hair flip for you.