The Seattle Sounders are hitting the sweet spot. The Sounders have always had talent and grit, but now are gaining chemistry.
Seattle’s schedule is slowing down and the team is getting healthy. Dempsey is back (and not travelling for a silly friendly in Boston!), Ozzie is back and Oba and Valdez are making beautiful music. Saturday’s match showed that kinks still need to be worked out (set piece defense), but that this team can bear down and get a result when it counts.
Of course, none of this means a thing unless Seattle makes the playoffs. Luckily our slower schedule, some fortitude on our part, and fortuitous breaks on the other, have the Sounders looking good going into the end of the regular season. San Jose losing to Philly, AT HOME!, takes a load of weight off our backs, as Seattle now controls their destiny. And Dempsey will be here to stay. The next USMNT call-up isn’t until the October 10th CONCACAF Cup against Mexico at the Rose Bowl. Luckily the Sounders have a bye that week.
Other teams are less lucky. Teams like Vancouver and SKC have games-in-hand on us, but as our fixtures even out, theirs are bunching up. Vancouver and SKC both have 10 games left to play in only six and a half weeks. Both have huge non-MLS competitions to worry about.
The ‘Caps are in their first CCL ever and play CD Olimpia just 3 days before hosting us in a huge MLS and Cascadia 6-pointer. SKC has the US Open Cup in Philly on September 30th, just 3 days after they play us and 3 days before they play Portland in Portland. As Seattle sees smoother sailing (finally), key opponents are hitting choppy water.
Last season was a smashing success, running roughshod over the league and taking our first Supporters’ Shield to go with our fourth US Open Cup. But everyone who bleeds Rave Green wants MLS Cup. Despite our summer of discontent, this may be our year.
MLS has a long tradition of teams sneaking into the playoffs and off with the Cup: L.A. in ’12, Colorado in ‘10, RSL in ’09, to name a few. As the other titans of West stumble and face congestion, the Sounders has a chance to get hot. 2015 may be Seattle’s opportunity to pull an L.A. and smash through the playoffs.