VANCOUVER, B.C. – For the fourth straight season, the Seattle Sounders will be going to the MLS Cup playoffs.
The Sounders clinched their spot with Saturday’s draw at BC Place. No celebration followed, only a quiet sense of accomplishment.
“It’s a tribute to the organization all the way down,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid told reporters. “We have a lot of stability and, as a result of that, there’s stability and belief that we’ve been able to instill in our club. We’ve still got big goals this year and the No. 1 goal was to make it back to the playoffs and we can talk about the other goals from there.”
Just one other expansion team in MLS history has managed to do that (Chicago Fire from 1998-2003) and only two other teams are currently riding similar streaks (the LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake). The Columbus Crew also have a chance to advance to the playoffs for a fourth straight season.
Of course, each of the Sounders’ first three trips to the playoffs have not gone as they had hoped. Each year, they’ve bowed out in the first round.
The hope is the shutout against the Whitecaps is a sign that this team is better-equipped for the rigors of playoff soccer than the teams of the past.
“For us, it’s going to help us in the future for sure,” midfielder Brad Evans told MLSsoccer.com. “We can’t be leaking goals in the playoffs.”
Equally important was the Sounders’ ability to consistently pull out points on the road. While they will fall well short of the nine road wins they had last year, they have a league-low three road losses and their 21 road points are the fourth-most in the league.
“It would be nice to make those ties become wins,” Schmid said. “I don’t care if those ties become wins in the playoffs. I’m OK with that. In the playoffs, the thing is you have to get something when you go on the road and you have to win at home. If you do that, you advance.”
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.