Season-finales can be a bit tricky, especially if a playoff spot has already been secured as is the case for the Seattle Sounders. The over-arching goal needs to be getting healthy, especially since the Sounders are already dealing with several injuries. But they’ll need to balance that desire with the reality that they still have plenty to play for both as a team and as individuals.
The biggest of these things is, obviously, playoff positioning. Although the Sounders can’t finish atop the Western Conference, they are guaranteed to finish second if they beat the Colorado Rapids. That would give them a first-round bye and whatever marginal home-field advantage comes with hosting the second leg of the Western Conference semifinals.
As long as the Sounders can at least tie the Rapids, they’ll be guaranteed no worse than a home game in the First Round. That’s a big deal. Since MLS started having these one-game playoffs in the First Round, home teams have gone 11-2-1 (that tie ended with the home team winning in a penalty shootout). A tie would also keep the Sounders’ hopes of a first-round bye alive, but it would require the Portland Timbers to lose to the Vancouver Whitecaps and Sporting Kanas City to do no better than tie Real Salt Lake.
A loss could send the Sounders as far down the table as fifth in the West, which would require them to go on the road.
Here’s what else is on the line Sunday:
- Clint Dempsey is one goal away from tying Fredy Montero’s club record for goals in the regular season. Dempsey currently has 48 regular-season goals. With his longterm future with the club unclear, this could be his last chance to catch or even pass Montero. The good news, if you look at that way, is Dempsey has six goals in seven games against the Rapids since joining the Sounders. Two of those goals came in his last appearance against them.
- Nicolas Lodeiro is one assist away from tying Obafemi Martins’ club record for assists in a season. Although the narrative has been that this has been a somewhat disappointing season for the Uruguayan, his 12 assists are tied for eighth in the league. It’s also worth noting that nine of those assists are primary, while only 5 of his 8 assists last season were. That means his primary assist rate has actually gone up from .26 per game last year to .28 this year. His xA/96 is just .01 lower than it was last year.
- Joevin Jones is two assists away from tying Martins’ single-season record. If he gets those, he’d also tie Diego Gutierrez’s unofficial MLS record for assists by a player who’s listed as a defender.
- It appears highly unlikely that this would happen, but if Lodeiro suffers eight fouls he’d tie the MLS record. He’s already been fouled 104 times, nine more than anyone else in the league this year. As it stands, he ranks third all time.
- This may come as a bit of a surprise given the slow start, but the Sounders would set their franchise record for home points in a season if they beat the Rapids. That would give the Sounders 38 points at CenturyLink Field and an 11-1-5 record. The current record is 37 points, which the Sounders achieved in 2014 when they went 12-4-1. Even a tie would set the Sounders’ record for fewest home losses in a season. Under Schmetzer, the Sounders have gone 18-1-7 in MLS competition at home, a tidy 2.35 points per game.