There’s been a lot of talk this week about legacies and dynasties and how this match will ultimately impact the Seattle Sounders on a grand scale. I’ve engaged in plenty of that talk myself. I’m sure I’ll engage in plenty of it over the coming days, weeks, months and years.
Today, at least right now, it doesn’t matter.
“We have to win it,” Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan said bluntly earlier this week. “No one remembers a finalist. That’s our mindset going in.”
The degree to which Roldan is right can certainly be debated. Plenty of people still recognize those New England Revolution teams that went to four straight MLS Cups were pretty damn good, even if they didn’t win any of them. But the point Roldan is making is not about the way pundits or fans view this team in some sort of bigger picture. This is about a mindset, and that mindset is today’s game is squarely focused on today.
To their credit, the Sounders seem to understand that. Jordan Morris insisted it’s not even something the players are talking about.
“Our whole focus is not what we’ve done in the past, but what we’re going to do this weekend, because none of that matters,” he said.
Brian Schmetzer, the guy who often presents the Sounders’ accomplishments in more of a generational journey, cleverly put any “dynasty” talk outside the team’s immediate grasp. He said the Sounders would need to equal the Seattle Storm’s four titles before that discussion can be seriously entertained.
In a way, that seems to cut against Schmetzer’s ethos of embracing internal pressure. But in another, it makes perfect sense. The sort of pressure the Sounders embrace is the undeniable stuff. They’re expected to win that day, no matter who they’re playing. They’re expected to meet or even raise the standard of their predecessors. What they aren’t expected to do is to meet the impossible expectations of those outside the organization, a goal post that always seems to be getting moved anyway. There’s no need to apply pressure that creates an impossible standard.
No, the pressure to win today’s game is enough. The Sounders face a diminished but plenty capable opponent. Caleb Porter has handed the Sounders some of their most painful defeats, and knows the Sounders about as well as any opposing coach.
This Sounders team has proven time and time again that they’re up for whatever challenges they face. It’s the most talented squad they’ve ever assembled, boasts experience up and down the lineup and all over the bench. They’ve won pretty, they’ve won ugly and they’ve won dramatically. They absolutely have to do it one more time.
Then, we can talk legacy.