Teams are at their best when they work together. The "sum is greater than the parts" cliche grew exactly because of this truism. Over the weekend the local pro sides demonstrated that they are at their best not when focused on maximizing the talent of a handful of stars, but when each individual maximizes their impact on each other.
OL Reign's victory didn't come because of World Cup stars, nor the Originals. The stout defense pushed Angel City wider than they prefer and the Reign attack capitalized on a beautiful moment of glory when Phoebe McClernon slung in a cross for Veronica Latsko.
All those stars were still on the pitch, but the total team effort is what earned the squad a victory.
Saturday night, the Sounders put on their own display of teamwork. Players that started the year as reservists and infrequent rotational men are ending the season as the keys to victory – Josh Atencio and Reed Baker-Whiting were forgotten men for swaths of the season.
In victory, they were as important as the millionaires – maybe more important.
Throughout the 2024 season the potential of these two clubs seemed to be connected to having the underperforming superstars return to greatness.
What happened instead was that the teams' baseline took the knowledge and experience of the season to lift themselves up, to become what has been modeled by the greatest players that the league has seen.
There are years more glory is available because players who some fans could dismiss as filler have became keys to success. Maybe even more glory this year, because these clubs are alive in the second season and their rotational players are acting like future stars.
In case you missed it, yesterday Sounder at Heart featured Niko Moreno's story on Nicolas Lodeiro's imminent departure from the Seattle Sounders.
Puget Sound Soccer
Reign advance to the semis; Sounders take the two seed
Reign beat ACFC to advance in the playoffs for first time since 2015
The 1-o win may not have been pretty, but in the playoffs pretty is less important than advancing. OL Reign are off to San Diego, where if they win they will play in the final, too.
Remember that time that Seattle went to St. Louis and reminded them who the best expansion team of all time is?
Pepperidge Farms remembers that 2-o win. It's just possible a minor rivalry was born, that or João Klauss hates everyone.
Looking back at the weekend's news
New England and New York City advance their stadium projects; former Defiance and Sounders players advance in the playoffs
Two of MLS's longest stadium sagas may be coming to an end
Since sometime around 2000 the New England Revolution have been hunting for their own stadium. Unlike the Sounders, the Revs don't utilize the full stadium in any significant frequency. Their possible solution is Everett, MA.
NYCFC are much closer to finalizing their stadium project. Willet's Point has entered the public review process. They most certainly need a home stadium, because it's hard to call Yankee Stadium a home field. A majority of their home games were not played in the Bronx. In 2023 they also used locations in Queens and Harrison as home pitches. In 2022 they played some home games in Connecticut and Los Angeles.
Jesse Daley advances to CPL Finals
Daley and Cavalry already took the Shield. Now they're a win away from a double after beating Pacific, 2-1. Cavalry will be in the Concacaf Champions Cup along with Forge. Only one MLS slot is still available in that competition – MLS Cup winner.
Other former Sounders and Defiance players still alive in their second seasons include;
Trey Muse pitched a shutout in Charleston's 5-nil win over Indy XI. Ray Serrano DNP in Louisville's pk advancement. Justin Dhillon DNP in San Antonio's 1-0 win. Alex Villanueva DNP in Orange County's 1-0 win over El Paso.
Andy Thomas's run with New Mexico ended in a 1-0 loss to Sacramento.
In USL League One, Danny Robles went 28 minutes in Northern Colorado's 4-1 win over Forward Madison. Miguel Ibarra played 84 minutes in Charlotte Independence's 3-2 win over Greenville. Oalex Anderson and North Carolina had a bye.
- Sharktopus FC's Open Cup qualification run ended Saturday. They lost 4-2.
- Former Reign and USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski is now the head coach at KC Current. He turned down MLS assistant coach positions.
- Michael Bradley already has a new job. Just a day after his final match as a player he now works for his dad.
- Will the zombie Sounders rise again? Matt Doyle puts Seattle in tier 2, below only Cinci and LAFC.
- Learn more about Seattle's cap situation.
- Seattle will host sci-fi's biggest celebration in 2025.