A staple of many a preseason camp is goal-setting. It taps into the competitive nature of athletes and coaches, to aspire and work toward targets, both for the individuals and the collective, the team.
They must be specific and measurable; within reason, but also just out of reach. To reach these goals will require more than before. Goal-setting asks us to give it everything we've got, and then some.
Entering a ninth season in MLS, Sounders FC is well into its adolescence. Whereas the formative years were filled with modest accomplishments - winning season series, making the playoffs - those benchmarks are now merely base camps for assault on the summit.
All this is to say, where should the Sounders set their sights for 2017? And, coming off an unexpected yet long sought-after MLS Cup, what do fans feel is within reality, yet just this side of fantasy?
Thinking big is not a bad thing, and it's only natural in Seattle this spring. Ours was the hottest team in the league down the stretch, and did so despite significant absences (Dempsey and, at times, Evans, Ivanschitz and Flaco). Who can blame us for shoot-the-moon predictions, if dealt from a full deck? After all, it's preseason; all things seem possible.
Below is a selection of statistical standards, both for the current club and those established by past iterations of Sounders. Given the personnel at present, which records are logical targets? Let the discussion begin.
17 - Obafemi Martins, 2014
25 - Roger Davies, 1980
Comment: When the Golden Triangle of Dempsey-Morris-Lodeiro was last intact, Dempsey dropped a hat trick on Orlando on his way to five goals in three matches. Even in his absence, Morris managed five in 16, which ain't bad. In any case, if the triumvirate remains healthy the mark of Martins is in jeopardy.
13 - Mauro Rosales, 2011; Rosales, 2012; Martins, 2014
18 - Steve Daley, 1982
Comment: Although thrown into the team and MLS midseason, Lodeiro quickly began working wonders. His average assists per game (0.62) extrapolated over 34 outings is far beyond the SFC record and surpasses Daley's sum as well.
11 - Kasey Keller, 2010 (team 12, 2012)
15 - Jack Brand, 1980; Dusty Hudock, 1997, 1998
Comment: It will be a new mix in back with the departure of Mears, and Ozzie's early-season fitness may be in question, but Frei & Co. were hanging clean sheets in seven of the last 13 games. Unless that was an aberration, this could be another record within range.
20 - 2014
25 - 1980 (23 were outright; 2 via shootout)
23 - 2002
64 - 2014
73 - 2002
Comment: Under Schmetzer, the Sounders finished on a 12-3-5 run through all competitions. Is that sustainable over 34 games? It was his first A-League side that won 23 times.
65 - 2014
72 - 1980
Comment: That 2014 season was a lesson in explosive chemistry between Martins and Dempsey. There was also an abundance of depth and support in Neagle, Pappa and Barrett. Perhaps a threat can be mounted on the club mark. Rare are those sides that can average two or more goals, however.
Q: So which, if any of these, would you scribble on a Starfire whiteboard and challenge the boys to take aim?
Frank MacDonald is a Seattle soccer journalist and historian. This story first appeared on hiswebsite and has been republished here with his permission.