The Seattle Sounders’ Narrative Arc

The Seattle Sounders have been putting on a show lately. The high drama of their 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Galaxy and 2-1 come-from-behind victory over FC Dallas in the MLS Playoffs has been riveting.

Though this is the performance Sounders fans have been waiting for all season, Seattle hasn’t exactly had a “storybook” season. Seattle could, however, make a movie. In screenwriting, must scripts are broken into three acts: exposition, antagonism, and resolution.

Act 1, Exposition: This act establishes the main characters, their relationships and the world they live in.

From March to June, we were reintroduced to the Rave Green. We reestablished the characters we knew and loved from last season (Oba, Deuce, Ozzie, Pappa), and we got to know the new guy (Mears). Coming off a wildly successful 2014, the Sounders just kept rolling: Seattle got 11 results in their first 14 games (9 wins). Everything seemed like the land of perfect day on June 13th when we beat Dallas 3-1 to claim sole position atop the Supporters’ Shield race.

Act 2, Antagonism: The protagonists find themselves in ever worsening situations. Part of the reason the protagonists seem unable to resolve their problems is because they do not yet have the skills to deal with the forces of antagonism that confront them. They must not only learn new skills but arrive at a higher sense of awareness of who they are and what they are capable of, in order to deal with their predicament, which in turn changes who they are.

From June to late August, catastrophe befell Seattle. The Sounders were reduced to a shell of themselves as Deuce, Evans and Pappa were called into international duty. Then Oba was injured and Ozzie reaggravated his injury. Finally, insult to injury, Deuce and Pappa were both suspended for embarrassing reasons. Lacking the skill to deal with the forces of antagonism, Seattle failed to get a result in 9 of their 11 matches. The low points include losing to the Timbers twice in two weeks at a 7-2 aggregate, and getting destroyed 3-nil, at home!, to the Whitecaps. A scrappy team of backups never scored more than 1 goal (and shut out 7 times), and tumbled down the table to the 6th and final playoff spot.

Act 3, Resolution: The story resolves. The climax is the scene or sequence in which the main tensions of the story are brought to their most intense point and the dramatic question answered, leaving the protagonist and other characters with a new sense of who they really are

From August 30th until now, the Sounders have been on a 10-game unbeaten streak (with 6 wins). Things were bleak, but the Sounders pulled themselves from the pits with a 2-1 win over Portland. The trouble that most antagonized the team for most of the summer, missing quality players, resolved, as our stars returned and new ones joined. The names we so dearly missed like Oba, Alonso and Dempsey joined new ones like Valdez, Ivanschitz and Friberg and started crowding the box score. Seattle got back to winning silverware: first the Cascadia Cup and then advancement in the CONCACAF Champions League. They clinched the playoffs with a strong showing against RSL and vanquished last year’s villain, the Los Angeles Galaxy, to set the stage for a triumphant return to the Western Conference Finals.

Sunday in Frisco, the show must go on. And the script demands to know: do the Sounders finally have a sense of who they really are, do they recognize themselves as champions?

 

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