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A team for the occasion and a team for the future

The Sounders pick up a statement win on the big stage

SEATTLE, Wash. — Anytime you have two of the league’s marquee teams facing off against each other, the national media-hype machine is bound to get out of control. When you have the Seattle Sounders vs Atlanta? All bets are off despite the two previous matches between the two teams, well, um, not necessarily matching the level of hype. This match, that saw Seattle beat Atlanta for the very first time, definitely lived up to the hype. There’s no need to mince words here. The Sounders have had a rough summer so far (having just picked up 7 points out of 21 available), but with the stage set the Sounders were able to grab the spotlight.

The Sounders can walk away from this performance feeling like they’ve accomplished something, but they also have things to work on as a team. Atlanta isn’t the same team they faced exactly a year ago (RIP Soccer), but they’re still the reigning champions and darlings of the league. Seattle can go home tonight knowing a lot more about who they are as a team than they did just a month ago, and I think they’ll like what they see in the mirror.

“We have the confidence that we can play with anyone in this league,” Harry Shipp said. “It is what it is in terms of where we are at in the standings behind LAFC, but once we get into the playoffs we feel confident against anyone, home or away.”

I’ll be the first one to tell you the summer was rough, but now that the typical midseason momentum is building for the Sounders, it now feels like this team that can achieve great things. But, there’s still work to do for this team. Now the pieces are here, it’s time to start building towards those great things.

In his press conference, Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer was reluctant to say that was his team’s best performance of the year when asked.

“I don’t know,” he said. “If I had to be honest ... I didn’t think our possession was very good in the first half. I need guys in the middle of the park to dictate the tempo of the game... Collectively as a group we need to be better at possession, bringing the ball from the back to the front.”

With their win over Atlanta, the Sounders moved to second in the Western Conference, third in the Supporters’ Shield standings, and second in the league in terms of PPG. No matter how you slice it, this is a good team. The Sounders are on 35 points after this win. A feat they didn’t reach until Aug. 18 last year. But the scary thing is, no matter how good this team is right now, they will absolutely be better come October. It’s what the Sounders do. They are a second half of the season team. Let the good times roll.

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