Seattle’s MLS situation | US Soccer Players

Of Clemens Lisa – NEW YORK, NY (May 9, 2022) US Soccer – Seattle Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer’s success is partly because he genuinely cares about the little things. Whether it’s doodling notes on a pad during games or spending hours watching videos between games, Schmetzer is always worried about what’s next. The Sounders made history last Wednesday night when they defeated Pumas UNAM to become the first MLS team to conquer the Concacaf Champions League since the tournament format changed in 2008. With the trophy secured and the confetti cleared, Seattle had little time to regroup.

“Give me six months,” Schmetzer told reporters after the game. “Let me get past Dallas, get past the Open Cup game at Starfire, which is going to be a big deal. Let me get through some of these games and maybe I can think about them a little more.

Schmetzer was referring to last Saturday night’s MLS regular-season game against FC Dallas at Toyota Park and the upcoming US Open Cup Round of 32 game against the San Jose Earthquakes this Wednesday at Starfire Soccer Stadium, just outside Seattle . Schmetzer’s men once again relied on a highly rotated team and lost 2-0 to FC Dallas, which pushed Seattle further down the Western Conference rankings. Regulars like goalie Stefan Frei and forward Jordan Morris stayed in Seattle to rest.

The historic Champions League run has its price. Seattle had to play games just days apart and tried to manage minutes and rest players between midweek CCL games and weekend MLS games. The next stop for Seattle is representing the region at the FIFA Club World Cup. But the real next stop will be trying to be competitive again in MLS after they plummeted to a 2-5-1 record earlier in the season. The loss to Dallas was Seattle’s third straight MLS loss.

Seattle general manager Garth Lagerwey had made winning the CCL his priority. In a message to fans published on the team’s official website last month, Lagerwey called the CCL final “the greatest game in the club’s history. “This May 4th game is for immortality,” he said. “This game is for the whole city of Seattle, the whole community.”

The Sounders didn’t pull punches. Local sports legends such as baseball legend Ken Griffey Jr. and NFL star Marshawn Lynch did promotions for the game, an effort that helped build anticipation for the Finals and helped the team attract a record crowd of 68,741 fans at Lumen Field to attract. It’s a bargain MLS teams were willing to take if they wanted to win the CCL, a move that paid off for Seattle when so many other MLS teams had failed in the past. The euphoria that comes with winning a big trophy must surely serve as motivation for Schmetzer and his players for the summer.

It’s the kind of risk-reward proposition Seattle has benefited from as a club since joining MLS in 2009. The team won the US Open Cup in its expansion year and won the championship again in 2010 and ’11. Seattle added a fourth US Open Cup to its trophy cabinet in 2014 before winning two MLS Cups in 2016 and ’19.

However, recent history can serve as a guide to what Seattle is doing this season. In 2020, LAFC lost the CCL finals to UANL and finished seventh in MLS that season. LAFC made the playoffs that season, losing to Seattle in the first round. Two years earlier, Toronto FC lost the CCL Final to Chivas. They would finish ninth in MLS that season and not make the postseason. During the 2014–15 CCL season, the Montreal Impact lost the finals to Club America, but the Canadian representative finished third in the Eastern Conference in the 2015 season. They would make it to the conference semifinals where they were eliminated by Columbus.

Seattle still has plenty of time to correct course. Schmetzer is known for figuring things out. Winning the Concacaf Champions League was historic. It would be disastrous not to make the MLS Cup playoffs. Seattle has not been known to back down from a challenge. The next few weeks will set the tone for how the Sounders fare in MLS this season. Gone are the days of rotating squads. It’s time for the real Sounders to show up in MLS.

Clemente Lisi writes regularly for US Soccer Players. He is also the author of A History of the World Cup: 1930-2018.

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