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Not Finished Yet

or that was fun, but it can be more fun

MLS: Western Conference Championship-Seattle Sounders at Colorado Rapids Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Making MLS Cup is not the prize. It is not the climax of a journey. Merely making the Final is still a failure. The Seattle Sounders are not finished yet. There’s another game, a full 90 minutes for them to write an unbelievable script.

Imagine the Princess Bride but Inigo merely avenges his father while the Man in Black never rescues Buttercup. That movie is a lot less interesting. It is no longer a story of true love, success and fantasy. It is just a vengeance tale. It would feel unfinished.

Think about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Sure, they blew up Star Killer Base, but the scene with Rey handing the lightsaber to Luke tells us all that the story is not finished.

We are currently on that kind of cliff hanger. The nearly two weeks until the MLS Cup, and particularly the time before the opponent is known, allow us to celebrate an accomplishment. It is not yet the accomplishment.

A Western Conference Championship is nice. Making the MLS Cup is nice.

But there must remain a hunger for more, because more is available. On Dec. 10 that more manifests itself in the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy, a beautiful production from Tiffany & Co. Under guard, many Sounders stared upon the silver creation in 2009 when Seattle hosted the contest between RSL and the Galaxy. A few have held it in the past - Chad Marshall (‘08), Brad Evans (‘08), Herculez Gomez (‘05). They know.

  • Every Sounder knows - they are not finished yet.
  • Osvaldo Alonso, the current captain, knows. It is the phrase he brought forward. “We’re not finished yet.”
  • Zach Scott, he of nine trophies that lacks the MLS Cup, knows they are not done, yet.
  • Clint Dempsey, forced to watch from afar, he knows. He’s been on the edge of greatness often enough - runner-up in MLS in ‘05 & ‘06, runner-up in Europa League in ‘09-10, runner-up in the Confederations Cup in ‘09. There is more, and Sunday’s win is merely a taste.
  • Brian Schmetzer knows that more is available. His trophy cabinet is large, with a big empty space for MLS Cup. Every comment on Sunday night was equal parts victory celebration and hunger for one more game.
  • Nicolas Lodeiro won titles with four of his previous five teams. Only Corinthians, where he played just seven games, didn’t title while he was with them. He knows the taste of greatness. He knows the difference between greatness and goodness.
  • Jordan Morris knows what it means to win a title. He did so with Stanford last year. He knows that his professional goals are to win them with the Sounders.
  • Nelson Haedo Valdez, with his lengthy career, knows how rare those championships can be. He won with Werder Bremen in ‘03-04 and did not win again until Olympiacos in ‘13-14.
  • Román Torres tasted titles in Panama and Colombia. He is filled with joy, and hunger for more.
  • Alvaro Fernandez won in Uruguay.
  • Erik Friberg won with Malmö.
  • Joevin Jones won in Trinidad & Tobago, Finland.

These men are not finished. Their leaders insist that there is more to come. The organization knows what a title means. They’ve taken all but two trophies available to them from ‘09 to the present. Winning this MLS Cup gives them a chance at a CCL title.

Sunday’s victory and trophy was not the prize. It was the qualification for something more. It was a respite. It was a declaration by 28 players that they are not finished.