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Losing the wind, sailing anyway

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The Sounders are listless early this season.

Volvo Ocean Race 2014-2015 - Leg 2 Photo by Yann Riou/Dongfeng Race Team/Volvo Ocean Race via Getty Images

At Sounder at Heart we have a routine with our matchday coverage. Certain people write some preview stuff; other - or the same - people write some stuff that recaps the action. And so it goes for 34-50 matches a year. There are rare, life-driven changes to this. I stepped aside much of the week due to my wife’s 40th and my 42nd birthdays.

Sunday night, I tried to return to writing. I had an MLS weekly recap to write, but I found myself distracted; unenthused. The loss to Chicago took the wind out of so many people’s sails.

Yes, the team is still ravaged by injuries. The road stretch to start was harsh. The team had little opportunity to rest after their MLS Cup win. They were expected to struggle, but not like this.

This most recent loss featured every type of struggle of 2017, in just one game. They were on the road. Injuries took away the starting RCB, the starting RB, the backup RB and depth in the attack. Refereeing took away the 4th RB, granted a goal, took a goal away. Morris continues to play through an injured ankle. The only width comes through the left back. The god-forsaken woodwork.

Everything that has been going wrong kept going wrong.

It’s a struggle to find a new way to write about it.

The roster is better than this. The players are better than this. The coach is better than this. The Seattle Sounders are better than this.

The record is trending towards bleak. The league is entering the central third of the year. “It’s early” is no longer true, and there is no more satisfaction in being mediocre.

There are some people that are already staking claim to “Fire Schmetzer” - as if less than a full season and an MLS Cup isn’t good enough. Others want to fire Lagerwey for the offseason moves that were and weren’t. Still others (and some of the same) want to sell the best players on the team and start over.

Losing sucks. A lot.

We’re sports fans. We have short memories. We’re Sounders fans and often feel we “deserve” more. Sports are a lot more fun when the teams you love are winning - just compare June ‘16 to Nov-Dec ‘16.

Spending time writing, traveling, watching, re-watching, re-re-watching, and attending matches for a losing team - or even a mediocre team - can be a drag. We all have other stuff to do.

When a team puts out results like this, it does not just test the resolve of the players, coaches and staff. It tests our resolve. We fans need to evaluate what it is to be a Seattle Sounder.

Is it “us versus them”, except for when the going gets tough?

It could be. It’s easy to lose faith in your local team. It’s easy to find a winner, and then a new winner, and then a new winner. Soccer is all over television and legal streaming options these days.

Being a Sounder isn’t just about December 10th, 2016. Being a Sounder isn’t just about the star. Being a Sounder isn’t just about the trophy case. Being a Sounder isn’t just about the yachting life.

Being a Sounder is about Seattle Sunshine. Being a Sounder is about gathering with friends for this game with a ball, 22 players, a referee and us. Being a Sounder is about the club and that unique relationship between players and fans that draws both sides back again and again.

Being a Sounder is.

We are what we are at this point. We cannot pick and choose when we are Sounders. We are People of the Sound. This is an identity that embraces our wins, shudders at losses, sings in the rain, plays in the mist.

And so we re-watch. We pontificate. We podcast. We podcast some more. We write and write and write and write and write. Even when it is hard. Even when they deservedly lose.

We demand change and improvement. We embrace joy. We prepare for the next match, and the next. It’s a long season.

We Sounders know roller-coaster seasons. Maybe we pause. Maybe we wait, but we resume.

For when it is us, versus them, you can always count on me. On you. On us. On Sounders.