There haven’t been a lot of losses that left the Seattle Sounders feeling good about themselves this season. Sunday’s season finale against the LA Galaxy appears to have been an exception.
Despite being forced to settle for the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference and significantly hurting their chances at hosting a potential MLS Cup final, the Sounders seemed relatively optimistic following the 1-0 loss.
"It had two good teams making sure they are ready for the playoffs – that gave it that playoff intensity,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said. “There is a lot of pride in those players that stepped onto the field and that pride was definitely evident. LA is the defending champion and they are not going to give it away easily. We are a team that wants to get there, so we will fight and scratch to get there."
Part of the reason for the optimism was that the Sounders played well enough to deserve a better result. If not for several impressive saves for Josh Saunders and a bit of hard luck created by the post and a disallowed goal, the result could have been very different.
Among Saunders’ four saves was one on a diving Eddie Johnson header in the 25th minute, a sprawling stop of Fredy Montero’s close-range volley in 59th minute and stoning Mauro Rosales’ open attempt in the 69th minute.
“Both teams had chances,” said midfielder Brad Evans, whose apparent stoppage-time equalizer was negated by a hand ball called on Montero. “They were able to capitalize on their one shot from outside the box. I think that overall a decent performance from both sides.”
Perhaps because this was just the Sounders’ third loss in their last 18 games, Schmid seemed optimistic that it could serve as a good motivator.
"I think we are ready for the playoffs,” Schmid said. “Sometimes when you get slapped a little bit toward the end of the season it can be a good thing because it reminds you of how that feels and it is a feeling that you don't want to have come back.
“I think this team definitely has what it takes to make a run at the championship. There is enough quality on the field, enough quality on our bench, and the desire is definitely there."