The Seattle Sounders are 90 minutes from MLS Cup, but they are not yet ready to call themselves finalists.
Following Tuesday's 2-1 home victory in Leg 1 of the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference Championship, the Sounders have the edge ahead of Sunday's closing leg against the Colorado Rapids (4pm ET; ESPN | TSN2 in Canada), but there's the matter of those 90 minutes left to play, which will ultimately decide their fate.
"Starting the series with a win is very important," said Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer on a Wednesday conference call. "I was very happy with the resolve of the team, because going down 1-0 certainly wasn't in the plan, but give credit to Colorado: They came out and got a goal – and then my team was able to respond and score two goals to put us in charge of the second leg."
With more than two weeks to prepare due to the FIFA-scheduled international break, Schmetzer noted the Sounders started Tuesday's game "a little rusty", though the overall benefit proved a net positive for the team, with an injured-but-influential trio all able to participate.
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"[The break made it] able for us to get Jordan [Morris] healthy, Andreas Ivanschitz had a few minutes last night, obviously Brad Evans has been fighting through some injuries, so that additional break was good in some instances as well," Schmetzer said.
And the good news for Seattle is that none experienced a setback: "There's no concerns about any of the players. They all made it through OK."
Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan, who joined Schmetzer on the conference call, spoke of his excitement for Sunday's second leg, while talking up the Sounders' prospects on the road.
"I think it's going to be a very difficult game in Colorado – they're very good at home – but we're a pretty good road team and hopefully we can bring the same amount of energy and commitment from the group on the road," he said.
Schmetzer echoed the positivity about Seattle's road form, despite Colorado thus far posting an unbeaten mark at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in 2016.
"I think our team has been a pretty good road team," he said. "Since we've taken over we've scored in every single away match that we've played."
The looming concern becomes the short turnaround to Sunday's series finale. After the long run-up before the opener, the teams have four days between legs. Roldan was unconcerned about its effect.
"I think the most difficult part [of a short turnaround] is getting our bodies right after a game," he said. "There are nicks and bruises that happen in every game and I think the rest period is definitely the hardest part.
"It's the playoffs at this point and I don't think anybody really cares about that. We just want to play."