So. We made it. We're in the MLS Cup Finals. Well done, lads. However, with one task still ahead we cannot yet unclench our buttocks.
The Seattle Sounders are in the MLS Cup Finals. I've never written those words before but they look nice. They sound nice. It sounds deserved.
The Sounders took care of business against FC Dallas early, then coasted down the mountainous lead they earned for themselves. The Sounders took care of business against the Colorado Rapids, earning two victories for the first time ever in a playoff series. Road wins are swell.
I'll be honest with you for a second: I didn't really celebrate after the Sounders beat Colorado 1-0 on Sunday. All that happened was my heart stopped racing for a few minutes. I don't know why I didn't celebrate either. I could've run around and woohoo'd my way through the streets of Seattle, heel-clicking over sleeping homeless people, but I didn't. I closed my laptop and sighed in relief.
I think a lot of this comes from the fact that my perception of the Sounders and the reality of the Sounders changed as the season progressed. Early on, very early on, the Sounders lost a bunch, but I didn't think these losses were the result of a bad team playing poorly, instead I could still see that the Sounders were better than their results showed. Sure enough, Jordan Morris started scoring some goals and the Sounders went back to .500.
Then another yearly iteration of the dire days struck and while the reality of the Sounders toyed with the idea of doom and gloom, my perception of them never really changed. In my eyes, they were still one of the best teams in the league, just unlucky or uninspired at times. For a distraction I ignored 2016 and looked beyond to 2017, knowing that these same players, with a new Nicolas Lodeiro, could do great things with a full season.
Sigi Schmid got fired. Seattle got a new Poseidon, and our second season started. This new era started pushing the once growing dichotomy of perception versus reality closer to one and the same. Two games after Schmetzer and Lodeiro started to make their stamp on the team, I wrote this article.
In it, I wrote this prophetic line, "If the Sounders ride out the rest of the season taking 2 Points Per Game, which doesn't seem like an unrealistic ask, we could all find ourselves bundled up in a late-fall parade." Well, the Sounders are doing their part, earning 28 points in the final 14 MLS Regular Season games. In the five games since then, all in the playoffs against the 1st, 2nd, and 8th best teams this season, the Sounders are 4-1-0, with that one loss due to the overwhelming need to not having to win.
Wait. Let me do some quick math. That means that since Seattle hero Brian Schmetzer took over, and with only having DP Clint Dempsey for 4 of 19 games, the Sounders are 12-3-4 with a +13 GD. Over the course of a full season, that would be good for 71-72 Points with a +23 GD, and that's with a rotating cast of Guess-Who('s injured today) characters.
So let's go back to where my perception of the team was back in early August, "we're not going to win the Supporter's Shield, but we might still be able to hoist a trophy this year."
Perception, meet reality.
Since we're friends here, I need to ask you for two favors. One, don't go asking me to prophesize your future because of my dead-on predictions here. Two, don't go looking at that other post where I predicted the Sounders playoffs probability with or without Dempsey or Tyrone Mears.
Actually, you know what? No. Let's call me out on something. I'm not infallible, nor do I claim to be (that's a lie, sometimes I actually claim to be infallible), and to illustrate my point, let's revisit this Punnett Square I made back in September.
Look at that. Look at how wrong that is. Every single one of those squares is wrong except for maybe the square with Dempsey and without Mears. So I've modified that Punnett Square. This is the one we should use from now on.
This looks better and more accurate. Silly me.
Now let's go, Sounders. Don't make a liar out of me. I want to need a reason to wear two coats this December when I go to my first parade ever.
Never Gonna GIF You Up
Good luck getting to the game for all those traveling Sounders fans.
Colorado came out with a plan.
Is this what's considered an onslaught?
We just need one goal. That's it.
Oh. My. Morris.
We're gonna play in the finals.
Time to party!
Taking care of business.
Colorado sure is hoping to get a penalty called out of nothing.
Who wants a goal? Does Colorado want a goal?
We're in the MLS Cup Finals!
Rest up, Sounders. You've earned it.
Now everybody is prepping travel arrangements for the Final.
It's just a matter of whether we win the trophy or not.