Making the playoffs eight straight years, and 21 of the past 23 years, is impressive. It is made more so because this trip to face the Colorado Rapids in the Conference Finals on November 22nd (CenturyLink) and 27th (Dick’s Sporting Goods Park) is their third MLS Conference Final (7 of last 15 including USL Sounders). Twice the NASL Sounders made the semifinals. Both of those appearances ended in NASL Soccer Bowl failure. But this is not the norm in Seattle sports.
Our brother and sister teams do not know this level of success. Even the Seahawks only know recent prosperity. Yes, they have three Super Bowl appearances since 2005. They only have one other Conference Final appearance. They lost to the Raiders in LA back in 1984.
The hapless Mariners made the ALCS three times. They lost all of them. In 1995 they beat the Yankees and then lost to the Indians. In 2000 and 2001 it was the Yankees that crushed the Puget Sound’s hopes for a World Series appearance.
We remember the Sonics fondly. Again, four Conference Finals appearances. Twice they won (77-78, 78-79), back in 86-97 the Lakers swept them in four games. In 95-96 they won the West and then got Jordaned. They won us a title, all the way back in 79.
The Seattle Storm (WNBA) rival the Sounders for consistently appearing in the playoffs. Only twice have they made the Conference Finals, going on to win the championship both times. Connecticut and Atlanta were the losers. Their ABL predecessor did not fair well.
Over in the NWSL, the league is not yet large enough for Conference Finals, but the Reign made the Finals twice.
Foot thunder ruled Tacoma and the MISL in the late 80s, but the Stars only reached the semifinals twice. They lost in 85-86 and won the title in 86-87. The reborn MASL Stars are yet to make an appearance in their Conference Finals in their two years at the top level of modern indoor soccer.
The Puget Sound isn’t familiar with success in sports. This is our chance to love each other, to show the world our love of sports. It is our chance to be the 12th man, the region that forces leagues to change rules due to noise. We are ‘two outs, so what’ and ‘not in our house.’ We, all of us, are Sounders.
Our rare chances when the nation’s eyes turn to us offer an opportunity to show the best of Seattle, of Washington. We live in those times right now. Between the Huskies, Cougars, Seahawks and Sounders this is one of the best Autumns in Washington sports history.
You don’t need to go to the match against the Rapids because you are a Sounders fan. You need to go because you love the Puget Sound. You love Seattle. This is what we do. We are heard around the world.
I’m asking you to go to the game. I’m asking you to get your friends to the game. I’m asking you to talk your coworkers into going to the game. Chat with your neighbors and let them know the potential for greatness. From Tacoma to Everett, from Whidbey to Yakima, from Ballard and West Seattle and all over our region I’m asking you to take this moment and declare “you will hear us.”