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Sounders, Reign both sitting atop the tables

It's not very often that one city gets to jointly look down upon the rest of the country, even if it might only be temporary.

What's happening here is crazy.
What's happening here is crazy.
Mike Russell/Sounder at Heart

Soak it all in. Take a step back and just admire what is happening right now in Seattle. Yes, yes, the Seattle Sounders are atop the MLS standings. But we've been here before. It's nice and everything, but it's not worth much if they don't keep it up.

What's worth admiring right now, this very instant and savoring it at least until the weekend is bigger than just the Sounders. As we sit here on the week of April 28, both the Sounders and Seattle Reign are the best teams in their respective leagues. The points say so, the goal-differences say so and the buzz even agrees. Whether you're talking about the boys or the girls, the best soccer in the land is being played by teams in Seattle.

Will it last? It sure seems like there's a good chance. The Sounders' offense is cutting through defenses like Valyrian steel through cold flesh. Clint Dempsey looks like a god among mortals. Obafemi Martins is playing better than his best a year ago. None of it seems remotely unsustainable.

The same could be said for the Reign. As dominant and glorious as Dempsey has been for the Sounders, Kim Little has been the female equivalent. Through three matches, the Scotland international has four goals and that is somehow understating the effect she's having on games. In the Reign's 4-3-3, she's the maestro in the middle, making everything run to perfection. What's crazy is that in a relative sense, at least, the Reign's offense may be even more stacked than the Sounders'.

The Reign are averaging 2.67 goals per game, and that's without a single goal from Sydney Leroux, who is in what qualifies for her as a scoring slump. Leroux has been her usual dangerous self, it should be said, but she's yet to find the back of the net after clanking an uncontested chance off the goal post in Sunday's win.

The Reign aren't just perfect through three matches, but that they are also dominating on both sides of the ball. Even granting some room for home-away correction -- all three of the Reign's games were at Memorial Stadium -- the 24-8 shots advantage is a loud proclamation to the rest of the NWSL that this team has made every bit of the turnaround their offseason roster juggling suggested they could.

The Sounders' dominance has not been nearly as complete, but it has been just as fun to watch and hopefully longer-lasting than the last time they reached this point. You may remember that point, being as it was about seven months ago. That's when the Sounders rolled over Real Salt Lake, beating the then-top-of-the-table occupants 2-0 and having a lot of fun in the process. There was a euphoria after that game, especially considering Eddie Johnson and Dempsey both came off the bench. It obviously wore off during the season's final few months, as the Sounders failed to win any of their final seven regular-season games before crashing out of the playoffs, but the feeling was very similar to what we're experiencing now.

There were a lot of back-heels and step-overs and other flair-filled moments, you'll recall, but none of them really led to anything.

And that's probably why this high feels very different. While last year's emotions was at least partly about what could be, this year's team is much closer to a finished product. We don't need to imagine how Dempsey is going to fit in or how the Sounders can possibly get all their dangerous pieces onto the field at the same time. This team is even deeper but has players willing -- if not necessarily happy -- to fill roles on the bench. It might not last forever, but there's a sense of common purpose on this team that was never quite there last year. This team has an almost embarrassing level of depth that should allow them to keep some of this momentum even after Dempsey and probably Brad Evans leave for four or five games to attend to World Cup duties.

For the sake of discussion, here's a very possible lineup during the World Cup break: (4-3-3) Frei; Gonzalez, Traore, Marshall, Yedlin; Pineda, Alonso, Rose; Cooper, Martins, Neagle; or maybe (4-4-2) same back five; Pappa, Pineda, Alonso, Neagle; Martins, Cooper. Either one looks pretty strong, if not necessarily potential MLS Cup winners.

This, too, is a strength of the Reign. Keep in mind that their last two wins came despite Megan Rapinoe being on the bench the entire game. That's the same Megan Rapinoe without whom the Reign went 0-9-1 to start 2013. The first game, Japan international Nahomi Kawasumi was filling a reserve role. All Kawasumi has done over the past two games is look like possibly the second most dangerous player in the league, behind teammate Little of course. At some point, international duty is going to raid the Reign of bunch of their players, but even if you take away all eight of their internationals there's still some genuine quality on their roster.

Seriously, do yourself a favor and get on the Reign bandwagon now. Remember how excited everyone got about the Sounders Women back in 2012? This team is certainly deeper and might even be better in terms of top-end talent.

It's entirely possible that we're all singing a very different tune in a few months. Maybe Dempsey returns from the World Cup fat and satisfied. Maybe Martins decides he wants to play in Europe. Maybe injuries run roughshod over the squad. Maybe the Reign crash back to earth. That's why I say enjoy this now. It could absolutely get better, but the ride is what we're here for anyway.

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