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Sounders’ turnaround started with locker room dispute

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Players say months of frustration finally came to a much-needed head after the loss to the New York Red Bulls.

The Sounders are all hugs now. That wasn’t always the case.
Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

On the surface, the Seattle Sounders have done a remarkably good job of making it seem as though the players have stayed together even when results weren’t going their way during this tumultuous season.

Behind the scenes, though, it has not always been sunshine and unicorns. In itself, that probably isn’t a massive revelation. But full credit to The Athletic’s Matt Pentz (subscription needed, but very much worth it) for at least getting a glimpse of that locker room turmoil.

Pentz’s story is predictably light on details — players he talked to wanted to keep the specifics in-house — but it does suggest that the season may have started to turn around after a heavy dose of grievance-airing following the 2-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls on June 13.

That loss — in which the Sounders were out shot 22-11 and were lucky not to have given up more — left the Sounders 3-8-2 with seemingly little hope of turning around their season.

Pentz doesn’t suggest the fight itself turned around the Sounders’ season. Heck, they only claimed one point in their next two games, both at home. Rather, it suggests the improved locker room cohesion that followed was indicative of a certain mindset.

Instead of giving up on the season — something we’ve seen plenty of teams do over the years — the Sounders appear to have redoubled their efforts.

There is still plenty of work to be done before we can say the effort was enough. But it seems like a good sign that the Sounders have already successfully weathered at least one of these storms.