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Having tasted the red line, Sounders hungry for more

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If you blinked, you may have missed it, but the Sounders have already dipped their toes in playoff territory

MLS: Los Angeles Galaxy at Seattle Sounders FC Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

TUKWILA, Wash. — For a few scant hours Aug. 18, the Seattle Sounders were above the red line for the first time in the 2018 season. A 5-0 demolition of the LA Galaxy was enough to see Seattle jump into sixth place in the Western Conference standings, only to be bumped down to seventh hours later by a game-winning penalty for Real Salt Lake’s Albert Rusnak in the 10th minute of stoppage time against Houston.

Now, Seattle is back on the outside looking in, but it’s a situation that feels much more temporary on the back of a six-match winning streak.

“I think there’s always a chance that we can skip the play-in game,” Cristian Roldan said at training Wednesday. “There’s a chance that we can get the home play-in game. We can’t look too ahead. We have to take what the game gives us and understand that we have to take it game by game and continue this momentum. If one games slips away in this league, it can be detrimental, but if you win two or three more, you put yourselves in a really good spot going forward.

“We can’t look too far, but it is very pleasing to see that we were above the red line for at least a bit. All our hard work has looked to be paying off.”

The turnaround evokes the age-old question of a dog chasing a car; what on earth to do if you manage to catch it? By that metaphor, the Sounders have caught cars in each of the last three seasons, going on late runs to bring themselves from the brink of autumn irrelevancy to legitimate title contenders.

Now, facing the hardest part of their remaining schedule — on the road against Portland Timbers Sunday and at home against Sporting Kansas City Sep. 1 — Seattle has a chance to position itself in an advantageous position as it seeks a 10th consecutive trip to the MLS postseason.

“We’re still fighting for a playoff spot,” Harry Shipp said after the win against the Galaxy. “We’ve had a run of very good games. But I think we’re not going to view it like that. We’re not going to get complacent. I think the confidence is there. We’re trying to fight for as high of a playoff seed as possible. I think for us, we’ve done a pretty good job the last two months.”