TUKWILA, Wash. — The Seattle Sounders have plenty of important questions to answer before Saturday's MLS Cup against Toronto FC at BMO Field (8 pm ET, FOX, UniMás | TSN1/3/4, RDS in Canada).
How will they defend Sebastian Giovinco? Can they waltz into a tough road environment and get a championship-sealing result, even in what will be a frigid Ontario climate? Would an MLS Cup trophy this season mark the culmination of the single greatest turnaround in Seattle sports history following their brutal 6-12-2 start to the season?
These are all questions that are worthy of discussion — but there is another preeminent debate that undeniably supplants them all:
Who exactly is the best dancer in the Sounders' locker room?
It’s a pivotal question, first raised following the midseason return of center back Roman Torres, who is credited with starting the tradition of Seattle’s now-famous locker room dance parties that follow victories. Torres says he first started the tradition during his career playing in some of South America’s top-flight leagues, before he brought it to the Sounders.
“I’ve done it before with other teams,” Torres told MLSsoccer.com through a translator on Monday. “It’s something that the Panamanians have in them -- the dancing, the happiness. It’s good for the group. It doesn’t make a difference what [music] they put on, I’ll dance to it.”
Torres’ status as the originator of the tradition – combined with his undeniably precise and refined technique — would make him seem like the odds-on favorite to take home the honors as the team’s top move-buster (see video above and below).
But to hear his Sounders teammates tell it, Torres might have competition in the form of an unlikely source.
Marshall being name-dropped by three different sources as Torres’ co-best-dancer is something of a Cinderella story. Marshall has long been one of the league’s best center backs, known for his lockdown defending and aerial dominance that makes him a matchup nightmare on set pieces.
A rigorous and painstaking investigative journalistic inquiry by MLSsoccer.com, however, surprisingly yielded no footage of Marshall dancing during his tenure with Columbus Crew SC from 2004-2013 or during his last two seasons with the Sounders. The 32-year-old veteran might not have been picked by the pundits, but the credit afforded to him by his teammates and head coach also cannot be denied.
Torres, for his part, named forward Nelson Valdez as his choice for the top spot after being informed that he was not allowed to pick himself.
So, if the central defender duo of Marshall and Torres represents the Sounders’ best pair of dancers, who is the worst? That question also led to a common thread among the Sounders.
“Jordan [Morris], probably,” said Ivanschitz, who diplomatically pointed to himself first before offering up the name of his rookie teammate. “We have some guys who are very calm and quiet and we have some guys who just don’t care at all. We all know Jordan is a very smart guy and a very shy guy. Maybe that’s the reason.”
“I don’t follow them when they go out,” added Schmetzer. “But, based on our videos, it’s Roman as the best. And Jordan as the worst.”
Harsh? Maybe. But unlike Marshall, Morris’ chops were documented following Seattle’s 1-0 victory over the Chicago Fire on Sept. 28 as the 22-year-old Homegrown product busted a few of his moves between Torres and teammate Cristian Roldan.
Rough stuff. But, in the interest of fairness, it should be pointed out that Morris is still a rookie, with plenty of years ahead to practice his form. He’s made it known that he’s a reluctant participant in the endeavor, but also has taken the pragmatic view of realizing that postgame dance parties almost certainly mean there was a positive result on the field.
“I wish I didn’t have to dance but it’s just a lighter atmosphere,” Morris said earlier this season. “When you’re winning games and things are going your way, it’s just more fun to be in the locker room. It was tough at the beginning of the year. Results weren’t going our way and when that happens, the locker room, training, everything is a little bit more dreary. It’s been a turnaround completely. It’s a lot of fun right now.”
For now, the Sounders are hoping that their next game results in one more dance party and their first-ever MLS Cup trophy. If they do happen to get that result, will Morris be forced by his teammates to once again strut his stuff?
“Yes,” said Torres. “We already have a plan for that.”