Back in late July, the Seattle Sounders were about as far out of the playoff picture as a team can get. The squad looked particularly lifeless and rudderless in a 3-0 thumping at the hands of Sporting KC on a blazing-hot Midwestern summer afternoon on July 24, a result that helped trigger a parting of ways with longtime head coach Sigi Schmid.
Assistant Brian Schmetzer took the reins of a ninth-place team with a 6-12-2 record some 10 points back of the Western Conference playoff places.
What transpired over the next three months ranks among the greatest revivals in MLS history, capped by Sunday's 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake – clinching not only a 2016 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs berth, but hosting rights in the Knockout Round as the West's fourth seed.
Schmetzer alluded to all that and more as he addressed his troops in their jubilant CenturyLink Field locker room after Sunday's victory.
“You guys [expletive] kicked [expletive] ever since our staff has taken over,” said Schmetzer, who also took care to hail retiring veteran Zach Scott. “You guys have done a really, really good job of making sure you believe in yourselves, believe in the team. That's the most important thing for me. So thank you, everybody.”
But the overriding message came from midfield warrior Osvaldo Alonso.
“We're not finished yet.”
As he did earlier this month, Schmetzer reminded the Sounders that their organization and its fans expect far more than mere postseason participation. A first-ever MLS Cup title remains their goal.
“We have to go back to work tomorrow,” said the interim boss. “Tomorrow we've got to get going again, re-gen and train, because Ozzie, what?”
Repeated Alonso: “We're not finished yet.”