The Seattle Sounders pulled off the turnaround on Sunday, beating RSL 2-1 and clinching a home playoff game in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
I am stoked, stoked!, just to continue our playoffs trend (especially consider Pee Town has such trouble starting any sort of playoffs streak), and yet I am always #hellagreedy. Tempering my excitement after Sunday’s result, I continue wavering between ferocious optimism and jaded skepticism with this team. As I wrote last week, Seattle is still very much a team under construction.
Considering context, the Sounders are fielding their weakest playoff roster yet in the MLS era (though if we were to imagine such Sounders-on-Sounders crime, this team would probably make short work of the 2010 squad). We only have 1.5 DPs, we only have one solid option at forward (a rookie, no less), and our team is old and injury-prone.
And yet, 2016 could very well be the year Seattle hoists the Cup. The Western Conference has never been in such disarray. Can Seattle beat SKC, their Thursday night play-in game opponent? Yes. Though we’ve lost to them twice this season, that includes the First Kick Oniel Fisher red card game, and Sigi’s 3-nil Waterloo. SKC has a sloppy defense and a mediocre form going into the playoffs, and have yet to face Nico Lodeiro. If we win Thursday, Dallas, for the second year in a row, is our probable opponent in the semis.
Dallas, the class of the league all season, just lost Mauro Diaz for the playoffs. His absence, plus the recent departure of Fabian Castillo, has reduced Dallas to a shell of its former glory. Can Seattle beat a Diaz-less Dallas side? Most definitely yes. Severely undermanned, we were robbed of a result in Frisco just last week. With Ozzie and Brad and Valdez, and possibly Ivanschitz, we could wallop the Hoops.
That leaves, realistically (sorry RSL), either L.A. or Colorado in the Conference Finals. Regular bullies, L.A. has been inconsistent all season. Only Colorado (Colorado?! of all teams) has sustained excellent form all season and enters the playoffs healthy (add the potential return of Jermaine Jones and the Rapids are looking scary). Maybe I am naïve, but Colorado honestly doesn’t scare me all that much.
Thursday night could be the beginning of something big. As coach Schmetzer said postgame, we’re just getting started.