Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me seven times, shame on the Seattle Sounders. For the seventh year in a row the flagellating Sounders ended their season prematurely, this time at the hands of FC Dallas who dealt the Sounders their first defeat since August, culminating in an embarrassment that was a penalty kick shootout. That's it. Season over. Close the curtains.
The reality hit me hard. Luckily for me, I get to attach my face and name to this propaganda train, and when it all comes crashing down I'm left standing here, alone and shamed. On Monday, I woke up and for the briefest of moments I knew in my heart that what had occurred was a dream, that there was no way the Sounders didn't get knocked out and that there was still an MLS Cup on our horizon.
As a result I've hardly been sleeping, and when I do my dreams are less than pleasant. Forgive me as I regale you for a moment regarding them, and I know, there's nothing worse than hearing about someone's dreams, but you've stuck with me for two years, so I'm sure I've earned a loyalty reward or something.
Sunday night I dreamed that I had to give a group presentation with barely a moment's notice about Pride and Prejudice in front of a full auditorium. Sadly nobody in my team knew anything about Pride and Prejudice, so I gave an excruciatingly detailed recap of the novel. Oh my goodness it was so dreadful. I don't remember much about Monday except that I was sucked through a drain at the bottom of a nuclear reactor. It was unpleasant to say the least. Last night I was thrust into a Battle Royale scenario, except that instead of being a predator, I was the prey. It was relentless and not at all enjoyable.
This is what the Sounders have done to me. I'm a mess. To top everything off, my internet has been down since Monday morning, so I haven't even been able to mourn this season with the rest of you. I've been forced to stew in my own thoughts and to try to explain to my father the intricacies of Sigi's playoff plan. That's where my mind has been.
As a coach Sigi Schmid has won more MLS regular season games than anybody ever. We know that. He's also won the MLS Cup twice, once with LA Galaxy and again with Columbus Crew SC. With Seattle he's qualified the Sounders for playoffs in each of the team's first seven seasons, culminating in no titles won. There has been enough evidence for me to confidently state that Sigi's coaching style changes in the playoffs. Against the Galaxy, the Sounders were running and gunning. We saw that too in the first game against Dallas, and even though Seattle was allowing goals, they were scoring more than their opponents. So in the second leg in Frisco, instead of playing the same attacking soccer which had succeeded so well for them, the Sounders sat back and allowed Dallas the run of the game.
We've seen this before, way-too conservative of play on the road resulting in an anemic offense and a playoff exit. Given this I was curious how it was that Sigi won his two MLS Cups. How was he successful in places outside of Seattle? In 2002 with LA, the playoffs were weird, like three-games-in-a-series-type weird. Against KC Wizards, Sigi's Galaxy won the first match 3-2 (it was tied 2-2 after 90, but they played a golden goal thing). Then they lost the second match 4-1. That seems familiar. However, a third game was played and LA won 5-2 and advanced. Then they didn't allow a goal for the remaining three games and a championship was won.
In 2008, Sigi's Crew did un-Sigi things and won their two-legged series outright without losing a game. Then it was a one-off win in the semifinals, and a one-off win in the championship. That was a Columbus team that was four wins better over a 30 game season than the second best team. They entered the MLS Playoffs as favorites a won. It can be done.
Just so you're aware, I'm not advocating that the Sounders front office gets rid of Sigi, I'm just venting. Changing your team's identity to being more passive in the playoffs is something that has not worked in Seattle, yet here we are again. If the Sounders see this and feel it's reason enough to move on from Sigi, I'll understand, but I don't want them to be reactionary for the sake of being reactionary. If they feel there is a candidate out there who is better suited to coach this team through a tough MLS season and then a crapshoot of the MLS playoffs, then I'm all ears.
None of this season went according to plan. Injuries can be looked at as a major contribution to this, same with international call-ups. It's unfortunate and frustrating, and after years of not-quite's and nearly-there's, it's just gotten old. I love the Sounders, that won't change. I also hate the playoffs. 2015 will probably be looked at as a season of rotten luck. We saw a healthy team run rampant over all opponents and then a not-healthy team look inept against the worst of this league. We Hay Fe'd our way into a strong finish and another playoffs. Summer signings proved their worth and excited us.
But 2016? It's full of possibility. The roster might look identical or it might be drastically different. The Dark Days are over. The Red Card Wedding happened and wrought its doom and gloom and we survived through it.
I'm just rambling now though, so I should just end this. Thank you all for sticking with me this year. Until the next.
I'm pumped. Sounders are going to play the perfect game plan. Oh yeah!
Oh, we're going to play all-out-defense? That's our strategy?
Why can't we just, you know, go on offense and score a goal?
Thank goodness our defense is holding strong against this relentless Dallas attack.
No. Just... please no.
Deep in my heart I knew that Dallas would score late.
Oh my god, we're actually going to advance!
This is just perfect.
You've got to be kidding me.
I can't even believe what's happening right now.
We don't even stand a chance anymore. It's not even close.
I had no idea that as a team we were so bad at penalty kicks.
I hate penalty shootouts. I hate them so much.
That gameplan went about as good as expected.
Can't we just go back to a different reality and try again?
I feel bad for any fan who went on a hunger strike until the Sounders win the MLS Cup.
Time to start my offseason plans.