If you’re reading this, you know that the Seattle Sounders are hours (maybe moments, depending on when you’re seeing it), away from doing something no other MLS team has ever done. They’re about to kick off against giants of Egyptian football Al Ahly SC as MLS’s first-ever participant in the Club World Cup. It’s an honor for the club, and also an opportunity.
If you’re reading this, you also aware that the Sounders are underdogs. No need to fear, though. As Dave Clark pointed out, this is a position from which this club has found their greatest successes, from the very beginning of their MLS era to qualifying for this very tournament as the first MLS winners of the Concacaf Champions League. But that doesn’t quite do the situation justice; these moments — these opportunities to make history, chances to reach out a hand and grasp glory if only the Seattle F***ing Sounders can have the audacious belief that they can — are not simply something that happen with the Sounders, they’re the reason the Sounders exist.
I won’t rehash all of Dave’s points, because you should read his piece and also it would be boring of me, but from the moment Seattle joined the league they’ve been exceeding expectations and achieving objective success on the field. The club has still wanted more. In the early days the team talked about wanting to be a “global brand” and played friendlies against Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester United. They brought some of the best teams in the world to town for exhibition games with the spoken goal of some day meeting the same caliber of team in more meaningful matches.
Meaningful matches against the football’s top teams requires staying at the top of MLS and proving themselves against the best in the continent. It means sustained success and CCL victory, and a club full of people who share the same vision and drive to pursue that goal. That’s been a part of the promise that has drawn World Cup talents, and kept players like Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan around for the long haul.
Morris and Roldan both signed their second long-term extensions ahead of this season, deals that could potentially see both players stay in Seattle for the rest of their careers. Both players had achieved pretty much everything a player could achieve in MLS: they’ve won two MLS Cups, they made history and won CCL, and earned their ways to a Men’s World Cup along the way. They could have tried their luck and skills by pursuing opportunities abroad, but with Seattle they have the chance, week after week and year after year, to chase greatness.
Playing abroad they might have the occasional chance to lift a trophy, but most likely they’d just be a part of the crowd. They chose Seattle to consistently be among the best the league has to offer, and for moments like this one.
“I didn’t sign this deal to be happy and ride out my career here,” Cristian Roldan said shortly after signing his extension. “I stayed here to win. That’s my mindset going forward.”
First up, the Sounders will embark on this maiden voyage by facing one of Africa’s greatest football clubs. The Sounders were named “Club of the Decade” by MLS, and they were right to. Al Ahly were named “Club of the Century” by the Confederation of African Football. They’re regulars at the Club World Cup, and have a record on par with the entirety of Concacaf. For winning, the Sounders would have the honor of facing Real Madrid with a spot in the CWC Final.
The Sounders have a chance. Because they’re a good team. Because they’re talented and they work hard, and they want it. Because in a game of football, there’s always a chance. Because this is why we’re here.