Seattle Sounders 2010
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The Seattle Sounders’ 2009 season had gone perhaps better than anyone had expected. In their first MLS season, Seattle had made the playoffs after taking third in the Western Conference, their 47 points just two points behind the Supporters’ Shield-winning Columbus Crew. Qwest Field had become a daunting obstacle for visiting teams, with the Sounders compiling a 7-2-5 record at their home stadium. To cap it all off, the fledgling club had won a major trophy – the US Open Cup – by defeating the reigning Cup holders D.C. United.
In 2010, the question was simple: Could it get better?
The answer, it turns out, was more complicated. Seattle once again began their season on a national stage, beating the expansion Philadelphia Union 2-0 in an ESPN2/Deportes broadcast. But the momentum generated by their opener would quickly fade, and by July 12 the Sounders were a dismal 4-8-4.
The next day, however, the Sounders announced the signing of Blaise Nkufo, Switzerland's starting striker at the 2010 World Cup. On July 15, Seattle took a 1-0 win out of their encounter with United on an 89th-minute goal from Roger Levesque. Ten days later, the Sounders would beat the Colorado Rapids 2-1. On July 29, the club signed Uruguayan World Cup 2010 midfielder Alvaro Fernandez, and though the very next day the club traded star midfielder Freddie Ljungberg to the Chicago Fire, the results kept on coming. In all, the Sounders went 10-2-2 in the second half of the MLS season, including a 4-0 victory over the Columbus Crew on Sept. 18 that saw Nkufo score a hat trick. During the same stretch, the Sounders won their a second-straight Open Cup title, also with a win over the Crew.
The second-half surge pushed Seattle into the playoffs for a second straight year. Despite another shot at MLS Cup, however, Seattle would once again crash out in the first round. Playing the 2010 Shield-bearers, the LA Galaxy, the Sounders lost 1-0 at home on a baffling long-range strike by Edson Buddle, then fell 2-1 on the road to crash out of the Western Conference semifinals and contemplate how to improve in their third season.