There’s a saying the Seattle Sounders have become fond of over the years: It’s good to be the first to do something.
When it started is hard to track down, but it’s a phrase they’ve made good use of. The Sounders qualified for the playoffs in their first MLS season, were the first MLS team to win three consecutive US Open Cups and have made a habit of ending long unbeaten streaks over the years. One of the more memorable streaks they ended was in 2011, when they became the first MLS team in 30 games to walk away from Rio Tinto Stadium with a win.
Seattle will be facing a similar task on Saturday, when Real Salt Lake try to set a new MLS record by opening their season with 13 straight games without a loss (4 pm ET, MLS Live).
“It will be, it should be,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid told reporters when asked if the streak was a motivating factor. “You always want to play well, be first at doing things and so forth. They are a good team. Winning the game is most important, stopping the streak is part of winning the game.”
Schmid also noted that he has a small bit of personal interest in snapping RSL’s streak. The current mark is owned by the 1996 LA Galaxy, a team that opened 12-0 (including a pair of wins in the now defunct shootout that was used to break ties). The Galaxy were coached by Lothar Osiander, a friend of Schmid’s.
“Streaks are obviously meant to be broken,” Sounders captain Brad Evans told reporters on Thursday. “When you’re on the other side of the streak, that’s how you look at it. No matter if it’s a team that’s won 12 in a row, that hasn’t won in 15, the objective stays the same.”
What role Evans will play in achieving that end is still to be determined. Djimi Traore has been ruled out and Chad Marshall has only recently recovered from an illness that forced him to miss the Sounders’ last game. Evans is among the candidates to play center back, but he could also slot in at right back or at several spots in the midfield.
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Even though RSL have their own personnel issues, their unbeaten streak is a testament to how well they’ve weathered those types of concerns.
“The team has played the same way for six years,” Evans said. “They never change their style of play, whether they are home, away, which players are on the field; it’s always a 4-4-2 diamond. That’s what they do, that’s their M.O.
"A credit to them, they find players that fit that system. They’re consistent with their formation, the way they play and that’s something we’ll always look out for. They have some tricky players, fast, athletic, we’ll see what they come with.”