Is Cascadia Cup the Sounders' best chance at silverware?
TUKWILA, Wash. — The US Open Cup is a distant memory. The Supporters’ Shield is all but a statistical impossibility. The MLS Cup is still anyone’s to claim.
Suddenly, the Cascadia Cup is the Seattle Sounders’ best chance at winning something material this year.
“At least we should win something this year,” Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspurning (above) told MLSsoccer.com. “Otherwise it’s the first season that we didn’t win anything, and that’s not good.”
As the Cascadia Cup standings currently sit through four games played for each team, the Timbers lead all comers with eight points, followed by Seattle (five) and Vancouver (two).
A win against the Whitecaps on Saturday (9 pm ET, NBCSN) would put the Sounders in position to potentially retain the Cascadia Cup with a win over the Timbers at home on Oct. 7. The Sounders could still retain the cup with a tie or even a loss against the Whitecaps, but would need some help.
The first tiebreaker in the three-team mini-tournament is head-to-head points among tied teams, but goal-difference would likely be the true decider. The final Cascadia game of the year will feature the Timbers visiting the Whitecaps on Oct. 21.
“We know these next two games are for the Cup,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid (right) said. “We want that to stay with our fans. That’s where it belongs, so we want it to stay there. For us, as well, we still have the goal of finishing in second place (in the Western Conference), and that’s still our goal and that’s still where we want to finish.”
The Sounders are still in good position to claim that spot, as they are just one point behind the LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake with a game in hand on each of them.
Helping their cause is the fact that they are well rested and as healthy as they’ve been all year.
“When you see all your teammates out there and everybody’s out there competing, it raises the level of competition in training,” Schmid said. “Players definitely realize, ‘Wait a second, I worked a little harder, I want to either be in the 11 or in the 18.’ But it’s also good to have all our possibilities at our disposal. That just makes us, I think, overall a more well-rounded team and a more dangerous team.”
Coming off a disheartening loss to the San Jose Earthquakes, the Sounders hope to remind everyone just how good they can be.
“We still trust in ourselves and believe we can do something good in the playoffs,” Gspurning said. “The game on Saturday (against the Earthquakes) showed that we are close, but not good enough at the moment to win the MLS Cup. We have to find the strength in the next couple weeks, otherwise it will happen like in the last playoffs.”
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.