Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei made five saves during a 5-0 victory over the L.A. Galaxy on Aug. 18. Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Sounders FC Communications

Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei made five saves during a 5-0 victory over the L.A. Galaxy on Aug. 18. Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Sounders FC Communications

Sounders’ Season Rises From the Ashes

Seattle will ride a hot streak into a huge match with Portland.

In life, only three things are certain: death, taxes, and the Seattle Sounders finding their form in mid-July.

Like a clockwork phoenix, the Sounders overcame a woeful first half of the season and are currently on a nine-game unbeaten streak including a club-record six wins in a row. After being stapled to the bottom of the table, the Sounders currently sit seventh (of 12 teams) in the Western Conference—only two points out of a playoff spot with two games in hand on teams above them. They will be riding that hot streak into a huge match with the Portland Timbers, who, in contrast, are on a three-game losing streak. How did the Sounders get here? Well, let’s take a look.

New Kid on the Ball

The Sounders have needed a striker since Jordan Morris tore his ACL in the first game of the season, but Raúl Ruidíaz’s impact on the team since his June 29 signing cannot be overstated. In six games, he has two goals and an assist, but beyond that his movement has opened space for everyone to operate. The defense can finally breathe because they’re not defending for 90 minutes. Counter-attacks are more dangerous. Like a very nice rug, Ruidíaz doesn’t decorate a room all by himself, but certainly he ties it all together. He even got his own mural up on Capitol Hill. Not to mention the Sounders have won every game he’s played in since his July 21 debut. The scary thing for MLS is that for Ruidíaz, the best is yet to come.

Return From the Infirmary

At the beginning of this year, the injury bug was rampant. Victor Rodriguez, Clint Dempsey, Nicolás Lodeiro, Román Torres, Kelvin Leerdam, Osvaldo Alonso, and Jordan Morris were all on the injury list. The Sounders were an injury away from needing coach Brian Schmetzer to lace up the boots. Some of that may have had to do with carrying so many players over 30 on the roster (although Chad Marshall might be ageless; somebody check his house to see if he has an aging portrait hanging there). In MLS, anytime that much of your salary cap is on the injury list, it’s going to be a struggle. Fans can certainly fault the club for holding onto Dempsey and Alonso for what may be a year too long. But hindsight is 20/20 (both in Beanie Babies and in Pokémon cards). If the Sounders’ aging veterans can pour it on as they head into the playoffs, it will all be worth it.

Scoring Goals, Duh

Goals are the reason every soccer fan comes out to watch games. Even after this past weekend’s lopsided 5-0 win over the L.A. Galaxy, the Sounders have scored only 31 goals through 24 games—barely one a game (never mind that early games this season felt like a 90-minute forced march). However, through this unbeaten streak the Sounders have scored two goals a game. Saying that scoring is integral to the Sounders winning is not groundbreaking analysis, but sometimes it really is that simple. Bringing in a goal scorer like Ruidíaz certainly helps. Lodeiro, Cristian Roldan, and Will Bruin have all pitched in toward the goal total, which also speaks to the strength of this team (they can share!).

That for the third season running the Sounders have dug their own grave only to break open the casket and rise from the dead is certainly a worrisome trend. Half a season of good soccer isn’t a great way to get new fans. Yet the Sounders manage to pull off this trick every year. This offseason, playoffs or not, they need to work on getting younger and shedding some salary. Otherwise Sounders’ fans may begin to wonder if they are stuck in a time loop.

More in News & Comment

Photo courtesy of The Herald
Task Force to Governor: Whale-Watching Moratorium Will Protect Orcas in Puget Sound

Proposal still needs approval from Legislature and also calls for boosting Chinook salmon population

Sound Publishing file photo
King County Approves Gun Warning Sign Requirement

Warning signs must be posted in all King County gun stores and firing ranges.

Rhino riggers protest outside of the Jay-Z and Beyonce show outside of Seattle’s CenturyLink Field on Oct. 4, 2018. Photo courtesy of IATSE
The Backstage Blues: Riggers Complain of Unfair Labor Practices

Theatrical stage employees come for the music and stay for the thrill. But at what price?

The Seattle City Council voted in favor of the police union’s contract. Photo by Melissa Hellmann
City Council Approves Controversial Police Contract

Despite strong opposition, the majority of councilmembers ratified the agreement.

Rat City Roller Girls Ready to Rumble in 15th Season

New jammers and blockers make debut Nov. 17 at Debutante Brawl

Seattle police car. Photo by Dmitri Fedortchenko, Flickr Creative Commons.
Community Groups and Seattle Police Chief Weigh in On Police Contract

Seven of nine councilmembers will need to pass the agreement to ratify it. What will they decide?

Citizens gather for an interfaith candlelight vigil Nov. 1 at the Snohomish County Courthouse to honor the 11 victims of an attack at a Pittsburgh synagogue. Photo courtesy of The Herald.
Issaquah Company Hosts Gab, Social Media Favorite of the Far-Right

Website was pulled by GoDaddy after Pittsburgh synagogue shooting.

The team that advocated for I-1631 at downtown Seattle’s Arctic Club on Nov. 6, 2018. Photo by Melissa Hellmann
Washington Rejects Carbon Fee

Campaign organizers say they will continue pushing for a cleaner future.

Most Read