For anyone who has been paying reasonably close attention to the way the Seattle Sounders have prioritized this season, so little of Saturday’s 2-0 loss to FC Dallas should have come as a huge surprise. The starting line-up of 10 changes from Wednesday’s CONCACAF Champions League final – with the only player out after just 10 minutes – was particularly expected.
Like I said after the Inter Miami game, it was annoying to lose this match, it’s very easy to understand the circumstances around it.
However, neither anyone who enjoys following this team nor those who work with it should be pleased with the Sounders’ standings in the standings: seven points in eight league games. You could put Sounders coach Brian Schmitzer at the top of that list.
What was most disappointing for Schmitzer was that his league squad cleared themselves reasonably well and the game was still tied 0-0 when he started in the subs. Dallas scored his first goal just two minutes after Schmitzer scored a hat-trick of his key players.
“Maybe there will be people out there who will say it was an emotional win on Wednesday and it will always be a tough match,” Schmitzer said in the post-match press conference. “How did you play this match, we were playing well. It was in my mind that we would bring in some of the [starters] employment. It was a pity that Jimmy [Medranda] It came with cramps. Whenever you bring three at once, that’s a risk. I will own this. The team performed well. We made a small mistake as we got caught with flat feet. That group was in the game.
“I am not OK with losing. We will learn from it.”
Although Schmetzer may not be satisfied with the results, there is plenty of reason to be optimistic that the Sounders can still get their regular season back on track.
As much as Schmetzer said he didn’t feel as though the Sounders needed to sacrifice their league standings in order to make a race at CCL – and as much as that trade-off seems worth it today – it may have been inevitable. Not only did the Sounders know, even subconsciously, that CCL was the priority, there was a real physical cost to them to incur.
The Sounders have had to play four or five more games than almost any other MLS team up to this point, with about 20,000 more air miles added to their ledger. Add their league travel, and the Sounders have now traveled about 25,000 miles which is roughly 25% of the way during their season. To put that in context, pre-Covid US MLS teams rarely traveled more than 50,000 miles in an entire season. Suffice it to say, Sounders’ flight schedule will get easier.
While I don’t think many people really panic about the Sounders’ standing, I was curious about how it stacked up with previous seasons. Specifically, I had a feeling that Sounders tend to have a downtime like this almost every year and always manage to get out of it. As we all know, the road to a 13th straight playoff appearance wasn’t always easy.
Looking at the past 10 years, I’ve found that my perception is basically correct. With the exceptions of 2014 and 2020, the Sounders have had at least an annual bout on par with this eight game. In six of the seasons, the Sounders actually had worse workouts at some point in one season or another—even though most of them were near the start.
In those six seasons, the Sounders averaged about 55 points. To reach this goal, the Sounders need to claim 48 points over the last 26 games, or an average of 1.85 points per game. Over the previous two seasons, the Sounders averaged about 1.77 points per game. If they were to repeat it over the last 26 games, they would finish with 53 points, which is easily enough to make the playoffs and historically enough to finish fourth or fifth as a record best in the Western Conference.
Last year, the Sounders scored 51 points during their first 26 games and actually achieved a high water mark of 2.07 PPG after the 28th game. His best run in 26 games in 2021 saw them score 53 points. If the Sounders repeat that run, they’ll equal last year’s points total of 60. Perhaps now is the time to point out that we already know that this year’s roster is good enough to win the CCL and that even without João Paulo for the rest of the season, they are likely to be Healthier than they have been in any long period than they have been in 2021.
I’m not talking about all this to wave away from the start of the MLS campaign, but more to remind that there is plenty of season left to play and the Sounders have given us plenty of reason to believe they’ll be OK. .