After twice failing to secure their place in the 2016 MLS Cup playoffs in the last week, the Seattle Sounders kicked off a week of hard work to prepare for the final day of the season on Sunday against Real Salt Lake. Head coach Brian Schmetzer said he "would have liked to be in a slightly more advantageous position, but it is what it is."
While a couple of other results around the league could help the Sounders if they fail to do the job themselves, the team is fully focused on getting the three points that guarantees their spot. Many have viewed getting over that red line the minimum requirement for a successful season. But Schmetzer doesn’t see it that way: "I would consider it a failure if we don’t win the MLS Cup."
Schmetzer did admit that making the playoffs is somewhat a success, because it’s a necessary step on the path to winning the Cup. But if the team made the playoffs and didn’t go all the way, Schmetzer deems it as much of a failure as not making the playoffs at all—because the playoffs alone are "not our ultimate success or ultimate goal by any stretch of the imagination."
Despite the last two results, Schmetzer seems as confident as ever in his team—what’s left of it, that is. The Sounders were without a number of key players against FC Dallas, and the Schmetzer said that he wasn’t prepared to update the statuses of most of those players until later this week. The exception was Chad Marshall, who came off in the second half against Dallas with an apparent injury. The coach said that "it was just a kick," and that he "fully expects" Marshall to be available against Real Salt Lake.
There is no update on whether or not Osvaldo Alonso will be suspended for the next match due to his red card against Houston. As of Tuesday, the Disciplinary Committee has not announced that Alonso would face more than the single match suspension he served against FC Dallas.
As for the weekend’s matchup with Real Salt Lake, Schmetzer is trying to ignore the sense of deja vu surrounding it. The Sounders found themselves in nearly the exact same place in 2015, when they also had to defeat RSL at home on the last day of the season in order to make the playoffs. Schmetzer said that "we are going to continue to train the same way that we have. We believe in our process, we believe in the way we train."