SEATTLE — It might be a tad convenient to suggest the Seattle Sounders' turnaround started with Sigi Schmid's halftime speech against Real Salt Lake.
But it sure does make for a nice narrative.
Since falling behind RSL 2-0 last month, the Sounders have outscored their opponents 9-2, gone 3-0-2 and moved to within striking distance of the playoffs. Their biggest step forward came when the drubbed the San Jose Earthquakes 4-0 on Saturday behind a pair of goals from Lamar Neagle, a goal and an assist from Mauro Rosales and a garbage-time strike from Obafemi Martins.
"I don't think I'm that good that a halftime speech can be the turnaround," Schmid said. "There’s a lot of pride in that locker room and there was a lot of disappointment when we didn’t get off to the start we wanted."
Although the Sounders still lost that game against RSL, they did come out looking like a much better team and actually came close to getting the equalizer.
In the weeks since, the improvement has been even more obvious. They've only trailed for a total of 13 minutes and have registered four shutouts despite three of those matches being played on the road and the last three coming in an eight-day span.
"The effort we put in the last eight days was magnificent and I'm proud of the team for all the hard work they've been doing," Sounders midfielder Mauro Rosales said. "They just want to get better. We want to be a tough team. Today we showed that."
Those early struggles may end up proving to be a positive, too, as it illustrated how bad things can get.
"It now sounds weird, but I don't want to miss the tough time in the beginning," Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspurning said. "Maybe we needed this time in the beginning, that it shows us something that nothing comes for itself. We have to work for it. We don't want to miss the bad times.
"Of course, I like that it looks like we're back in business now, but you can learn from tough situations. We learned our lesson now and hopefully we have this in mind so we don't fall back into bad habits."