"Hello, MLS Cup Playoffs? It's the Seattle Sounders calling. Yes I'll hold," said the Seattle Sounders six and a half months ago. Can you imagine the hold-music one would endure in that time, the craziness of remaining on the line, hoping to one day have your call answered. Fast forward to the conclusion of Wednesday's 1-0 victory over the Chicago Fire.
Click. "This is MLS Cup Playoffs, how may I help you?"
Oh yeah, baby. It's on.
Following the thoroughly impressive 1-0 dismantling of the fearsome and ferocious Chicago Fire, your very own Seattle Sounders are above the red line. They're in playoff position and trending upward. Since it's not even October yet and we can't attribute this bizzaro happenstance to ghosts or spirits from beyond, it only makes sense that this revival, this rejuvenation has occurred based on the pure skill and will of our players and coaches. While every other team is drawing games, we're winning, and it feels damn good.
Look, I'm gonna give it to you straight. We've been friends for a while so I feel like we're in a place in our friendship where we can be open and honest with each other. The last time I did one of these (they're becoming less regular (I know, I'm sorry (really though, life has a way of keeping you busy with stuff you don't want to do (adulthood, am I right) but you have to do it anyway), but I'll try to be better in the future), but that doesn't mean I'm not still thinking of you guys) I talked about how the Sounders effectively had no chance at making the MLS Cup Playoffs if Tyrone Mears kept playing and Clint Dempsey wasn't. Well, that stupid little Punnett Square lied to you, it lied to me, it lied to all of us, because here we are in playoff position. All the Sounders did was keep on winning, and now all they have to do is win just two of their remaining four games and then they're playing the catch-me-if-you-can game.
Here's the thing though, and this is the part that gets me excited, winning the MLS Cup usually comes down to which team gets hot at the end. Currently there's no hotter team. Since Brian Schmetzer took over, the Sounders have earned 21 points in 10 games. This is essentially the second best stretch of the results for any team this season (after starting the season with a loss, the Colorado Rapids took 31 points in 14 games early on this season (since then they have 17 points through14 games)).
Let's look at the Western Conference teams who will likely make the postseason and compare them to the Sounders.
Western Conference Playoff Position
FC Dallas Last 10 Games Played
- 4 Wins, 2 Losses, 4 Draws (+6 GD)
- 16 Points - 1.60 PPG
Colorado Rapids Last 10 Games Played
- 2 Wins, 3 Losses, 5 Draws (-4 GD)
- 11 Points - 1.10 PPG
LA Galaxy Last 10 Games Played
- 2 Wins, 2 Losses, 6 Draws (+0 GD)
- 12 Points - 1.20 PPG
Real Salt Lake Last 10 Games Played
- 4 Wins, 4 Losses, 2 Draws (+1 GD)
- 14 Points - 1.40 PPG
Sporting Kansas City Last 10 Games Played
- 4 Wins, 3 Losses, 3 Draws (+1 GD)
- 15 Points - 1.50 PPG
Seattle Sounders Last 10 Games Played
- 6 Wins, 1 Loss, 3 Draws (+7 GD)
- 21 Points - 2.10 PPG
The Rest of the West
Portland Timbers Last 10 Games Played
- 4 Wins, 6 Losses, 0 Draws (-3 GD)
- 12 Points - 1.20 PPG
Vancouver Whitecaps Last 10 Games Played
- 1 Win, 6 Losses, 3 Draws (-7 GD)
- 6 Points - 0.60 PPG
San Jose Earthquakes Last 10 Games Played
- 1 Win, 4 Losses, 5 Draws (-5 GD)
- 8 Points - 0.80 PPG
Houston Dynamo Last 10 Games Played
- 3 Wins, 2 Losses, 5 Draws (+1 GD)
- 14 Points - 1.40 PPG
Here's a handy table with the important information:
Sporting Kansas City
Real Salt Lake
|San Jose Earthquakes
In the past 10 games, six of which were without Clint Dempsey, the Sounders have the most wins (by 2), the fewest losses (by 1), the best goal differential (by 1 (but 3rd best is -6 against Seattle)). They are currently the best performing team in the West. Only FC Dallas is close to matching what the Sounders are doing on the field.
But you saw that I mentioned Dempsey and now you want to know how we're doing without him? Well, in his 6-game absence, the Sounders are 3-1-2 (+2 GD), but of those 6 matches, 4 were on the road (1-1-2 (+0 GD)) while the other two were 1-0 victories at home.
As for Dallas, who are without Fabian Castillo since his transfer, they've played 9 games, at 3-2-4 (+4 GD). On the road they have been 1-1-3 (+1 GD) and 2-1-1 (+3 GD) at home. It's not bad, but that's 13 points in 9 games, a 1.44 PPG, which still pales in comparison to what Seattle has been able to accomplish.
Look, I'll cut to the case. I've thrown lots of numbers at you, lots of statistics, but the point I'm trying to make is that there is no better team right now than the Seattle Sounders. They're winning at home, they're winning on the road, and when they're not scoring goals left and right, they're winning those close, hard fought victories that eluded us for the first 20 games of the season.
Making the playoffs is one thing. Yeah, sure, we get that 8th consecutive feather to put in our caps, but I also don't want an 8th consecutive year of postseason disappointment. In this wild, wacky world of parity we call MLS, who knows which teams will be playing on December 10th. It could be Seattle, it could not be. But what I do know is that right now, with how teams are playing, if I were to put money down on which team in the West has the best chance to make it, I'm betting on Seattle.
Move Gifs (Get Out the Way)
Is it just me or is it hard to get excited about Chicago Fire games?
We absolutely have to get all three points. No option for failure.
An early Chad Marshall Goal!
Yes, yessss, this is what I want.
Tyrone Mears is surprisingly competent.
A second goal would surely be appreciated.
I swear I thought the referee just gave a penalty there.
But I have to admit that it was a glorious dive.
We won. Of course we did. Never any doubt.
We're above the red line. Playoffs, here we come!
However, there's still work to be done.