The past week has been interesting. It looked promising, then grim, and now promising again! The Sounders U23s needed four results to go their way. Needless to say hope was running at a premium in South Sound. Luckily the Rave Green did what they needed to do in their 4-1 victory over Victoria last week.
The Sounders U23s need to win out to keep their playoff hopes alive, a task that started against the lowly Victoria Highlanders FC. A start that seemed slower than it needed to be saw forward Eddie Na score for the Sounders, but late in the first half the Sounders’ back line shot themselves in the foot with an own goal just before the halftime whistle. The second forty-five, however, saw the Sounders U23s strike three times, in part thanks to two players who also suit up for the Tacoma Stars. Troy Peterson scored first, then Derek “El Tigre” Johnson struck from the penalty spot, and Ryan Schaefer rounded out the trio when he put one in the net in injury time. The 4-1 win would move the Sounders three points closer to the Timbers U23s or Calgary, depending on how other results went. Help would be a necessity, and the other clubs were about as helpful as lumpy ice cream in an Antarctic July!
If you get that — you know your southern hemisphere seasons, but you also get that none of those clubs were helpful to the Sounders. Calgary was a bit of help—but not by much. They could have clinched the playoffs by winning all three of the matches on their schedule, but they went 1-1-1 on that trip. A tie on Thursday saw Calgary needing to keep Portland in two separate matches in two days. They lost 4-0 on Saturday, meaning that a Portland win on Sunday would give them the Division crown. Thankfully for them, Calgary got a weekend split after winning on Sunday 2-1.
A quick look at the standings shows what needs to happen this week for the Sounders U23s playoff hopes: they must win both of their matches, and the Timbers U23s must lose to Lane United. In that scenario, the Rave Green advances on the 2nd tie breaker— wins.
If the Sounders do advance, they would travel to face Calgary in the Western Conference quarterfinals for the second consecutive season. Calgary won the matchup last season en route to a National Finals appearance. Calgary is 6-0-0 vs the Sounders U23s in the six matches that they’ve faced each other. This week will decide the Sounders U23s season and whether or not they’ll face a team in the playoffs that has had their number in the past. Hay fe folks, hay fe.