Welcome to 2018 Seattle Sounders fans.
The home opener is finally here and we can wipe that nasty MLS-cup defeat from our brainpans. I am excited to whup expansion side LAFC in front of 50,000 screaming Rave Green faithful, if only because Seattle invented successful expansion (seewhatididthere?).
Yes. I still take massive pride in Seattle’s incredibly successful jump to MLS back in 2009. All that talk last year about Atlanta lapping Seattle as MLS’s darling debutante made me gag. We not only started hot, we kept blazing. To wit: Seattle has never missed the playoffs, has made the Conference Finals 4 of the last 6 years, and advanced to back-to-back MLS Cup appearances with one title (not mention all the US Open Cups and the Supporters’’ Shield).
Anyone who dares consider Chicago’s successful launch way back in baggy-jersey-skanky-mullet MLS 1.0, or the all-sizzle-no-steak Atlanta launch from last year knows nothing. Today’s matchup pits the best expansion team in MLS history against the latest.
So there is a wee bit of juice to today’s game. Chivas 2.0 (they’re even coached by Bob Bradley!) can pull a Loons and wallow in ineptitude for a while. Hey LA, come at the king, best not miss.
Meanwhile at Starfire: The 2018 Sounders are on a mission. They’ve already kicked of the CONCACAF Champion’s League by advancing past El Salvadorian side Santa Tecla and face Mexican giant CD Guadalajara (aka Chivas) Wednesday. Seattle punched their ticket to this continental party by winning MLS Cup way back in 2016. These chances, to compete against the very best in our region, don’t come around too often.
Despite the pomp and circumstance, today’s domestic league home opener is a distraction. We just played a rougher than expected series with Tecla. We walloped them Thursday night, but all the congestion, long travel and the loss of Jordan Morris are devastating to the early goings in MLS.
Look how Toronto fared against Columbus yesterday. They too had to squeeze their MLS opener in between CCL fixtures, and they were embarrassed. TFC, allegedly with the best depth in the league, had less travel (Colorado), an easier opponent (again, Colorado) and still flopped in their MLS opener due to fatigue. Seattle hopes for a better result today, without compromising their chances Wednesday.
A very, very beatable Chivas team is coming to Sodo Wednesday night. Yes, they are one of our region’s unquestioned Super Clubs. Yes, Chivas have quality and pedigree and salary. But, they are mired in the LIGA MX cellar right now, and just fought for a home draw yesterday against archrival Club America. Chivas can’t take any league games for granted, and could very well send a b-side to Seattle.
BOLD PREDICTION: I want to beat Chivas on Wednesday way more than I care about LAFC today. For the optics and the ceremony, I hope the Sounders get a W to kick off their MLS campaign. But today’s game is not as clutch as Wednesday’s. And I think Schmetzer knows it. Seattle 1-1.