Armchair Analyst: Sounders, unbeaten in 8, go to the top of the West

There was a certain air of "let's just weather this storm" and "nobody panic" and "what, me worry?" about the Seattle Sounders over the first three-and-a-half months of this season. They were nursing an MLS Cup hangover, and they were playing through injuries and international absences, and as a result they were just not very good. A 2-1 loss to NYCFC on June 17 dropped them to 5-7-4, closer to the bottom of the West than the top.

Seattle haven't lost since. They're now 5-0-3 in their last eight games, and Saturday's 1-0 win over visiting Sporting KC – who had been atop the conference, but are now behind the Sounders based upon wins (the first tiebreaker) – moved them at least temporarily into first place.

The goal itself was courtesy of Seattle's three US internationals, Cristian Roldan, Jordan Morris and Clint Dempsey (volume up for analysis):

That's largely how it's supposed to happen. All three guys were difference-makers today.

But what's been really telling about Seattle's rush to the top is that it's largely come without the services of Osvaldo Alonso. Alonso came on in the 59th minute against Sporting, and it was the first time he'd played since July 4, when he came off after 17 minutes against Colorado. In the intervening 492 minutes, the Sounders outscored all comers 14-4 while going 5-0-1.

A run like this is unprecedented in Seattle history, as one of the defining features of this club during its MLS existence is how helpless they've been without their star defensive midfielder. On a large-picture scale, it looks like that corner has been turned.

On a smaller-picture scale, whether it's this week or this season, it's pretty clear that the summertime version of Seattle has buried the lethargy of spring. They're back atop the West and should be back in the discussion among the league's apex contenders.

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