As the MLS season approaches, MLSsoccer.com marks each passing day with a different statistic, observation or talking point, setting the stage for March 2.
5 – Number of seasons the Seattle Sounders have been part of MLS, including 2013
MLS expansion clubs dream of having the kind of success the Seattle Sounders have experienced as they get set to enter season No. 5 in MLS. And yet there's a sense that it just hasn't been enough.
Even established clubs would sign up for the the kind of run the Sounders have been on since coming into MLS in 2009:
• Four consecutive playoff appearances
• Four straight winning seasons with 12 or more wins each year
• Four straight US Open Cup finals and three straight titles
• Three straight CONCACAF Champions League participations, including twice advancing to the quarterfinals
• Four straight years of leading MLS in average attendance with 30,000-plus fans in each of those seasons
But it's the latter fact, the one that has allowed the Sounders to quickly stand out from the crowd in MLS like few expansion teams, that probably has contributed to the general sense of underachievement. The expectations surrounding Seattle quickly grew to match the size of the crowds and local supporter interest.
It's not just the sell-outs that have led to the mounting pressure. It's also the way the Sounders have fallen short in their quest to MLS Cup in recent years, leaving many feeling that they have yet to fulfill their potential. In the last three years, the Sounders have found themselves down 3-0 on aggregate at one point or another before ultimately suffering playoff elimination. In their maiden postseason voyage in 2009, they fell in extra time to Houston.
Can they make it over the hump in 2013? Many speak of three-years cycles during which squads should be vying for a league title by that third season. We're on Year 5 in Seattle, and they've yet to make the MLS Cup final.
The Sounders need to win the big one at some point here, or the comparisons with Seattle's historically underachieving professional sports teams will be inevitable.