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It was a different kind of MLS Cup parade

This was a more muted celebration, but Brian Schmetzer made sure to provide some memorable moments.

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

SEATTLE — Brian Schmetzer had seemingly grown a bit restless. After riding along in one of the Seattle Sounders’ two double-decker buses along the MLS Cup parade route, the now two-time league champion decided he need to commune with the people.

Schmetzer hopped off the bus and started walking along the edge of the procession, signing autographs, shaking hands and making his way to head of the parade that was winding its way through Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood before feeding into Seattle Center for the celebratory rally.

Schmetzer’s restlessness — or at least the perception of it — was understandable. While still boisterous and joyful, the mood around the parade was simply more muted than it was in 2016 when all of this was new. Fans were kept away from the buses, as opposed to being encouraged to follow behind; ECS chose to meet the team at the Fisher Pavilion Lawn instead of leading the procession, meaning there was no chorus of songs leading the way; and there simply weren’t as many players even available, with just three who featured in Sunday’s MLS Cup in attendance.

The player availability seemed particularly fitting with 11 players — including Kelvin Leerdam’s surprise call-up to Suriname — joining their respective national teams, some leaving as soon as a few hours after the final whistle on Sunday. Victor Rodriguez — the other missing player — was apparently given permission to be with his family in Spain.

Still, the mood was appropriately boisterous by the time the team reached Seattle Center. The rally began with a ear-rattling “boom-boom-clap”, got a further injection of energy when Gold Elevator got its long-awaited victory — in the shadow of the real gold elevator no less — and kicked into gear once the Sounders personnel and players started talking.

“That’s the point of things like this, to have a couple beers in the afternoon and skip school or work,” Sounders GM Garth Lagerwey said while again proclaiming this the best Sounders team ever. He then called Sunday’s win at home to be “the coolest moment in my sporting history.”

Stefan Frei then kicked it up a notch.

“Success thrives in a positive environment,” he said. “You fucking deserve this.”

Perhaps the funniest moment of the rally was when emcee Matt Johnson invited forward Justin Dhillon to the front of the stage to sing a little song.

Dhillon, who was joined by fellow Tacoma Defiance alums Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez and Danny Leyva, gave an honest effort in belting out a close approximation of “Bluest Skies.”

For all the celebration, there was less of a sense of finally reaching the long-awaited goal and more of one looking ahead to even bigger achievements. The 2016 rally was the culmination of what felt like a long road to the club’s first league title. This one felt a bit more like part of a plan that is really just getting going.

“Now we have two,” said Sounders captain Nicolas Lodeiro. “Next year we win three!”

The real star of the day — aside from the two MLS Cup trophies that were sitting alongside one another on the stage — was Schmetzer. No matter how many players were missing, as long as he was there, fans were sure to go home happy.

He took the stage to chants of “Brian Schmetzer’s rave green army”, only to admit he was a bit embarrassed to get such attention. He is, after all, more comfortable among the fans than speaking to them. But it was also just another sign of Sounders fans love affair with Schmetzer, and his undying affinity for them. This has been a tough season for Schmetzer in that regard, especially when he was put in the highly unenviable position of having to defend the Sounders’ moral compass over the summer.

He’s managed to emerge not only with a second championship trophy that ties him for second among all MLS coaches, but also with some newly earned respect among national pundits and even more secure in his position with the Sounders.

Justified as he’d be to crow, that’s simply not Schmetzer’s style. Instead, he does what he usually does, he turned it back on the fans.

“Thanks to all my family over here, all my family up there, all my family in the city of Seattle,” he said during the rally. “Thank you for this, thank you for Sunday, thank you for a lot of year — 40-odd years for some of us — thank you, thank you, thank you.”

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