When Leo Chu weighed his options for the next step of a burgeoning professional career, the young Brazilian wanted to experience the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
He picked the right club for that.
The 21-year-old scored his first MLS goal Saturday night, putting the finishing touches on a 4-1 win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC that clinched the Seattle Sounders’ 13th consecutive postseason appearance.
“[Making the playoffs] is one of the reasons why I came here,” Chu said after the match. “We’re building the history of the club, and I want to place my name in the history of the club.”
It’s a remarkable achievement considering the streak started when the Sounders joined MLS as an expansion side in 2009. Despite changes in personnel, both on and off the field, reaching the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs has been the one constant.
“The consistency of our franchise has been that we take pride in what we do,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said. “We take pride in the job that we’re asked to do. … The fans that have stuck with us through all of these years are the real winners. The people tonight were great.”
Schmetzer has also been impressed with his team’s ability to obtain results despite being shorthanded by injuries and international call-ups. Next-man up isn’t just an expression, it’s a reality for the Sounders.
“I think the identity of the team is coming into focus," Schmetzer said. “We know how we want to play, at home or away. And if we make small changes in personnel or small changes in tactics, overall the team knows exactly who they are and how they want to play.”
Fan-favorite Will Bruin, who had a goal and an assist Saturday night, is proud of that achievement – the longest consecutive playoff appearances in league history – but knows there's still work to be done during the final six matches of the regular season.
Seattle are atop the Western Conference with 57 points, five clear of second-place Sporting Kansas City.
“I think that’s an awesome accomplishment. That just shows you the standard this club holds itself to because there’s been many players that have come through in those 13 years and the standard of the club has never faltered,” Bruin said. “So, I think it’s a great testament within itself. There’s still work to be done because we want to have home-field advantage through the playoffs and win first in the West.”