SEATTLE — Before Wednesday, no team in MLS history had ever started a season going unbeaten for 13 consecutive matches.
Consider that record toppled now, as the Seattle Sounders made history at Lumen Field in their midweek Western Conference clash with Houston Dynamo FC, taking a 2-0 victory that moved their record to 8W-0L-5D and sets a new benchmark for unbeaten runs to start an MLS campaign.
Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer had done his best to downplay any sort of focus on the streak in the days leading up the match. But on his postgame video call following Wednesday’s victory, which was spearheaded by goals from Kelyn Rowe and Raul Ruidiaz, he acknowledged the significance of the milestone.
“It was very important for the team to play well, that’s probably what I would say,” Schmetzer said. “The results are certainly — it’s an impressive record, I am proud of the fact that we accomplished that. But tonight I just wanted the team to perform well because if this team plays up to its potential, I think we can win more games than we lose.
“We all know at some point the streak is going to end, I’m just happy it didn’t end tonight in front of a loud crowd. I thought it was a great evening.”
HIGHLIGHTS: Seattle Sounders vs. Houston Dynamo | July 7, 2021
It’s a sentiment that was echoed by Rowe, who notched a personal milestone when his 62nd-minute strike marked his first goal with the club since signing with the Sounders in the offseason.
The native of nearby Seattle suburb Federal Way said they're excited to be the new record-bearers, but added that the over-arching goal is ensuring they maintain this form down the stretch run of the season and into the playoffs.
“It’s obviously a great accomplishment, we’re very excited about it,” Rowe said. “It wasn’t the first thing on our mind, but the fact that it happened is great to happen.
“But we want to make sure this form continues, but not only through the next five to 10 games, but when it’s really important when it comes to the last few games of the season, getting on a run and going into the playoffs in full force,” he continued. “So this is an amazing run, we still have a lot to learn, we still have a lot of things to tighten and hopefully we can continue this run as long as we can and hopefully it’s towards the end of the year.”
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Seattle's streak has been keeping it going despite a plethora of injuries and absences that have necessitated heavy squad rotation.
Nicolas Lodeiro, Stefan Frei, Cristian Roldan, Nouhou, Will Bruin, Jordy Delem and Shane O’Neill were among the group of regular contributors that didn’t feature on Wednesday.
That depth will continue to be tested in the coming weeks as Seattle look to keep the run rolling, with Lodeiro and Frei currently nursing long-term injuries and Cristian Roldan with the US men’s national team for the Concacaf Gold Cup.
“It’s always important when you have a win when some players aren’t available,” right back Alex Roldan said after the game. “For example, my brother wasn’t available and many other players weren’t available as well.
“But we have this mentality with many of the players that are coming in, they will still be able to respond and give their best when they’re playing. So it was important for us to get that result even though we didn’t have our full team available to us.”