It may not seem like this but the Seattle Sounders have greatly improved and are arguably on their best form in years. And them peaking at the right time, could give them the one trophy they have been striving for since entering MLS in 2009, the MLS Cup.
If you haven’t been following the Sounders, you would’ve thought I was crazy to say they are the new favorites to win the MLS Cup. At a horrendous 6-12-2, the Sounders had enough and sacked Sigi Schmid, replacing him with assistant Brian Schmetzer. Since then, the Sounders signed Nicolas Lodeiro, which ironically was Schmid’s idea. Once Schmetzer was brought in, the Sounders locker room has improved and have been 3-1-0 since. The Sounders are now averaging 2.5 points per match under Schmetzer when averaging a point per match under Schmid.
So why exactly are the Sounders favorites for a trophy when they aren’t even in a playoff position? Well when the top six teams of each conference qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs, the Sounders are currently 8th, two points behind Portland (with two matches in hand over POR) and a point behind San Jose. Their Cascadia Cup win over the Timbers Sunday night really catapulted Seattle into only needing to gain two points in their final 10 matches in order to get in the playoffs.
As we have seen in past years, it really doesn’t matter where you finish in the regular season. As long as you are in the playoffs, you have a realistic shot to win the MLS Cup. Teams from all over the standings have reached and won the Cup and it’s not uncommon for an MLS Cup champion to have a rough stretch over a couple months at some point in their title winning season. Teams who have been successful in the months leading into the playoffs have a better chance of postseason success.
As we enter the final couple months of the season, no MLS team has done more over the past month than the Seattle Sounders. What sounded like pure craziness a month ago is slowly becoming more and more realistic by the day. Other teams may have breathed a sigh of relief when they saw the Sounders playing poorly and think that they don’t have to deal with them in the playoffs. But everyone is wrong. The Sounders are back, the Sounders are getting into the playoffs and they are now the new favorites to win their first MLS Cup title. Whether they can actually complete the “worst to first” journey will be another story.