Making the Western Conference Finals is a signal for a pretty good year. The Seattle Sounders finished 2nd in the regular season and are now assured of at least a top two finish in the West’s playoffs. But, because MLS is MLS, the games are a long way off. Leg one isn’t until November 21 (7:00 PM, FS1), with Leg two all the way on November 30 (7:30 PM, ESPN).
As of today, the first game is six days away. That’s six more days for you to forget about the playoffs and the Sounders. We’re here to make certain that doesn’t happen*.
Today’s reminder that the Sounders are in the West Finals against the Houston Dynamo (another two-leg, aggregate-goal series with an away goal tie-breaking mechanism) is:
Memories of playoffs past
Seattle has a long history of making the MLS Cup Playoffs. We know this. We know that the failures hurt. They started in 2009, against the Houston Dynamo. In the first-ever gamethread on Sounder at Heart you can re-experience the heartache of that loss in extra time. That 2009 squad was possibly the greatest expansion team in MLS history. We were so excited to make the playoffs and then Houston threw sand on our party.
It is sorrows like that, and sorrows like seeing the Lion of Paraguay struggle for a year, that help make playoff joys so special.
Our playoff memories contain many near successes, and after Seattle’s second MLS season, the recognition that hope isn’t enough to advance.
We needed more than hope. And last year we got it. We got joy mainlined into our veins. Those joys were greater because of our remembered playoff struggles.
All of our concentrated attention crested, our frustrations released, and we celebrated. To paraphrase a paraphrase, we celebrated together. Our playoff memories include struggle, they include joy, and they include each other.
The Western Conference Finals are still nearly a week away, but that space gives us time to remember West Finals of the past, of playoffs past, both the despair and the joy. It is a time to remember what it means to be just one more step away from that annual goal in MLS.
This is why you have plans for November 21 and 30 — our playoff struggles and successes of the past.
*You probably forgot about the playoffs the past couple days. Sorry about that.