SEATTLE — Beer was still dripping from the brim of Cristian Roldan’s “2019 MLS Cup champs” hat when a reporter asked him about the Seattle Sounders’ claim at being called a “dynasty.”
As the word tumbled out of the reporter’s mouth, a sly smile flashed across Roldan’s face. The sweet smell of celebration hung in the air and liquid courage was surely coursing through his veins. But even in that moment, Roldan knew exactly what had to be said.
“We have the talent, we have the coaching staff, we have the fans, we have everything to set us up for success,” Roldan said. “You can start to talk about (being a dynasty), but the reality is you have to keep winning to stay as a dynasty.”
Stefan Frei put it another way in comments to MLSsoccer.com: “Dynasties don’t call themselves dynasties. We’ll let others say what we have done. For us, we want to consistently fight for trophies, we want to keep winning trophies, and if someone doesn’t want to call us a dynasty, that’s fine with me. We won today. It wasn’t the prettiest game, but I couldn’t care less.”
That’s the right attitude for players to take, no doubt. There’s no point in getting wrapped up in your own legacy while you’re still in the midst of trying to build it.
Rather, this is something for fans, pundits and outside observers to debate. So here’s how I’m weighing in: What the Sounders have now feels an awful like a dynasty to me.
- One of the key elements of any dynasty is a common line being drawn from one championship to the next. The most consecutive seasons Seattle has gone without winning one of their seven trophies is two, something unprecedented in MLS among teams with at least four years of history.
- Another key element is a level of achievement no other team can match. Not only do the Sounders have the best winning percentage among teams with at least four years of MLS history, but they’ve also claimed more trophies than any U.S.-based team since 2009. While it’s true that Toronto FC has the most trophies among all MLS teams during that time (9), it should be noted that two of those were won when two of their three opponents were playing in lower divisions, and four others featured only a field of five or fewer teams.
- If you’re inclined to only count trophies won during MLS competition, the Sounders have a pretty good claim there as well. They’re the only team to win two MLS Cups since 2013 and their Supporters’ Shield makes them the only team with as many as three MLS-based titles since 2014.
I’ll admit that the case for the Sounders being a genuine dynasty is not exactly open and shut. There needs to be a shade of nuance when making the claim.
But there’s also plenty of reason to believe the Sounders’ window remains open. Nicolas Lodeiro is still just 30 years old and signed for two more years; Raúl Ruidíaz is 29 and under club control through 2022; Roldan and Jordan Morris just signed long-term extensions and are only now entering their athletic primes; and Garth Lagerwey keeps restocking the roster with high-upside players like Xavier Arreaga and Emanuel Cecchini. There’s no reason for any of us to rush to label this team. For now, they’ve got a comfortable spot among the MLS elite. Let future MLS historians figure out the rest.