A regular season match that doesn’t matter is unfamiliar to the Seattle Sounders. Brian Schmetzer didn’t have one in the USL. In fact the last time the Sounders had final regular season match where they had already missed the playoffs was 1983.
I’m going to need a moment. ‘83 was a long time ago. There are members of the coaching staff that weren’t born yet.
Maybe with a history of success going that far back playing against the San Jose Earthquakes — another team that honors history — is good. There’s not really a rivalry between these teams. There is history. Might as well continue making history, even if negative, with a team that honors history, too.
Since the Sounders already missed the playoffs they could go the route of giving time to some of the youngsters.
Give Léo Chú a runout
If someone knows what Léo Chú is as a soccer player could they speak up? Because his time as a Sounder has included a few flashes of great, a few worrying signs and a bunch of meh.
With 1,087 minutes in all competitions with the Sounders, Léo has 2 goals and 2 assists. That’s not what anyone should have expected.
It’s time for Chú to get a big run as a free-11, think Zakuani for stylings. He’s not young enough to only be thinking about potential. He needs to start.
Test the Homegrowns
There are a few homegrowns whose roles aren’t quite obvious. While Jackson Ragen, Josh Atencio, Danny Leyva and Obed Vargas seem locked into specific roles and use cases the next tier of talents from the Academy are still drifting about.
Giving Ethan Dobbelaere another run at right back or right wingback will help the organization understand if he can be a second option there.
Is Dylan Teves an all-arounder or just a late-scoring threat. Playing him in multiple roles on Sunday could help determine that. With Defiance, he played both fullbacks, every central mid and both wings. Either try that again or commit to the Dawg to being a bench threat.
Reed Baker-Whiting needs a role, too. The USYNT thinks that can play either wingback. Seattle needs a wingback. Get him some time wide left now to help further that development.
Maybe have Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez get a few minutes at home as a way to recognize his strong Next Pro season.
Seattle only has three shutouts since July. Saying that the defense has been bad wouldn’t be accurate. The averages are actually OK. The failures though ... they hurt. What’s happened too much this year is good defenders making silly errors and then having to play from behind.
Pitching a shutout would be great. Stefan Frei is third all-time for shutouts and third all-time for wins. His teammates need to continue his numbers collection, because his time with Seattle is probably worthy of the Hall of Fame. Keep punching those numbers.
Sidebar: Brian Schmetzer is two wins from matching his totals from his USL era all competitions total and is rapidly approaching Jason Kreis at number 8 on the MLS total wins chart (in roughly 60% of the games managed).
For a while now the Sounders’ vibe has been off. They haven’t been magical. The jaw-dropping moments weren’t there. Let’s get some heat. Let’s watch them stunt.
There’s no better game for vintage Nouhou. Seeing Jordan pull a Road Runner move is necessary to our souls.
Nico dribbling more dudes than you have hands on a finger — yes, please.
Burn some moments into our memory.
Heritage Cup, not because the cup is important — I just like winning things
No, the Heritage Cup isn’t important, aside from the history it represnets. But I enjoy winning things. I like that Raúl and Nico and Jordan and Cristian are all ahead of every San Jose player on the scoring chart for the weird cup.
I want it to stay that way.
I like that the Sounders haven’t finished below San Jose in the MLS standings since 2012, the only time the Earthquakes have finished above the Sounders in MLS.
I like that in the USL era the Sounders and Earthquakes met twice in the Open Cup and the record was an even 1-1, +0 goal differential. In the FC Seattle era? Seattle owned the series +12. In the NASL? Yeah, the Sounders owned that too.
Dominating teams for long periods of time is good. Padding those numbers is good.
Keep doing that.
Don’t expect a youth lineup
This is the most difficult lineup projection since the early appearances in the CCL back when Sigi was playing out games in a group stage without hope. Predicting Schmetzer’s choices is hard.
If he starts a veteran-laden lineup take joy in seeing Nico, who should have a banner in the rafters someday. Take some joy in knowing that this core took the city to four MLS Cups, winning two; to a CCL finals, winning it and setting an attendance record; to a Leagues Cup final. If there’s gotta be a dead rubber game it might as well be with the greatest MLS team from 2016 to the present. Might as well give MLS a chance to catch up to where we’re at.