SEATTLE – It’s been a trying season for the Seattle Sounders.
It started with the retirement of legendary center back Chad Marshall, who had to hang up the boots back in May due to a degenerative knee condition.
Midfielder Victor Rodriguez, one of the team’s best attackers, has barely played since the beginning of the season due to a series of nagging injuries. Defender Roman Torres missed 10 games after a PED suspension, and a score of international callups and additional injuries left the team with a couple of games during the stretch run where they were down as many as 10 players.
The result was a season that, at times, became an exercise in survival for the Sounders and head coach Brian Schmetzer. But with the dust officially settled coming off Sunday’s 1-0 victory in their Decision Day presented by AT&T matchup against Minnesota United at CenturyLink Field, Seattle have the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference and will open their Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs campaign at home against FC Dallas.
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“Each player on this roster has participated in this system in some way, shape or form,” Schmetzer told reporters at his postgame press conference. “And so, I’m very proud of the entire organization. When you lose Chad, Roman for a few games, you’re talking about Victor, you’re talking about Ozzie [Alonso, who now plays for Minnesota] – we’ve lost some big pieces to our squad. But those guys in there don’t quit.
“They don’t give up. They didn’t say, ‘Woe is me, we’ve lost Chad so now the season’s tanked.’ No, they view that as life. Life moves on. This club will move on, it’ll move on from me one day. That’s just part of what it is. It’s the competitive drive of each one of those individuals in that room that makes this club successful.”
Now, the Sounders will set their sights on a Dallas squad that has historically struggled at CenturyLink, although FCD did manage to pick up a 0-0 draw the last time the sides met in Seattle on Sept. 18.
“I don’t think there’s many teams that want to come here and plus in a one-off playoff game,” Schmetzer said. “I don’t think there’s many teams in the league that would like that. So, I’m very, very sure that us getting to second was a massive, massive effort and a very good thing for this club.”
Forward Jordan Morris said his team knows as well as anyone that anything can happen in the playoffs, especially with the new one-off format that has replaced the two-legged series of past years.
But getting as many home games as possible certainly maximizes their chances, and with the knowledge that the Sounders are getting healthier and can get at least one more game at CenturyLink with a victory over Dallas, Morris said his team has plenty of reason to at least like their chances.
“Especially this year, with the format change, having these home games, essentially two home games, is going to help us out a lot,” Morris said. “For us, we’ll focus now on Dallas and what we can do to beat them and then we’ll focus on the next one. But for now, it’s focus on Dallas.”
“It’s huge. We’re lucky, we have the best fans in the league and, playing here, it’s a tough place to come in and play. It’s nice for the players, we don’t have to travel and for the players, with such great fans, it gives us an advantage,” Morris added.