Nicolas Lodeiro - celebrating Ruidiaz goal - vs. Colorado Rapids - 03-09-2019
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MLS's team of the decade? Here's the case for the Seattle Sounders

With Tuesday's 3-1 win over LAFC, the Seattle Sounders booked their third trip to MLS Cup in four years, looking to win the trophy again after their first win in 2016.

By now it’s common knowledge in soccer circles that the Sounders have never missed the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in their 11-year history in the league, an unparalleled achievement in a competition known for its parity. After hitting the road to beat LAFC, they are returning home for the title game to try and extend their run of 11 straight home playoff wins, the second-longest such streak in MLS annals, and part of their 14-2-3 all-time record at home in the postseason.

Those are just two of several data points that make a compelling argument for Seattle being the top team of the decade in Major League Soccer, remaining a consistent contender across the head coaching tenures of both Sigi Schmid and Brian Schmetzer as well as the primary ownership first of Joe Roth & Co. and now the diverse group that took over from him earlier this year.

SSFC have won six major trophies since their MLS debut in 2009: Four U.S. Open Cup titles, the 2014 Supporters’ Shield and the aforementioned 2016 MLS Cup triumph. They’ve also enjoyed plenty of regional bragging rights, hoisting Cascadia Cup four times, including three of the past five, and are current holders of that trophy.

How about international play? Seattle have qualified for Concacaf Champions League on five occasions, and advanced to the knockout stages in four of those CCL campaigns, with a run to the semifinals in the 2012-13 edition their best finish in that competition.

Then consider their regular-season results over the long term, and the Sounders’ consistent quality comes into further focus. If the past decade was a league, Seattle would’ve won that, too:

Most would consider attendance and market relevance to be secondary concerns to on-field performance, though the Puget Sound side have run at or near the top of the league in those metrics as well, routinely packing CenturyLink Field and setting a bevy of MLS records along the way.

Can they add a 2019 trophy to all this success? We’ll find out on November 10.

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