TUKWILA, Wash – A team rarely, if ever, gets through the eight-month MLS season without facing some adversity.
The Seattle Sounders may lead the Supporters’ Shield standings with 45 points heading into Saturday's home matchup against the Colorado Rapids (4 pm ET; MLS Live), but that doesn’t mean they’ve been immune to those obstacles.
Seattle had to play a chunk of the season without two of its best players in Clint Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin due to World Cup obligations and have been forced to rely on the depth of their roster to stay afloat throughout 2014.
Going into Saturday’s game, Barrett has seven goals, good for second on the team. Cooper has three goals of his own, but has mainly made his mark in US Open Cup play where he has notched three goals in Seattle’s last two games – both victories that have sent the Sounders to USOC final against Philadelphia.
“This is an incredibly strong squad. Throughout the year so many people have been contributing to success,” Cooper said. “For us to be in the Open Cup final and to be where we are in the league is a great credit to all the players and the coaches.”
Barrett and Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid have a long history, dating back to 2004 when the two were part of the US U-20 national team. It’s something that Schmid said has increased Barrett’s comfort level in his first season as a Sounder.
“I’ve always felt that he and I understood each other and had a good relationship, and I think that’s helped because I think he’s comfortable here,” Schmid said. “When you’re comfortable you get confident and you play better as well.”
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Barrett credited Schmid’s straight-forward nature as a factor that made Seattle appeal to him as a destination for the 2014 season.
“When I was with the [U-20 team], he was one of the first coaches that I played with that was just always really straight with me no matter what,” Barrett said. “The fact that he’s always been that way with me is something I can respect about him.”
How big a role the two play down the season’s final stretch is yet to be seen, but their contributions will certainly be valued as the Sounders go for a USOC title and attempt to keep that going in the MLS Cup Playoffs.