When the Seattle Sounders FC opened their inaugural season on March 19, 2009, with a 3-0 win over the New York Red Bulls, many more notable benchmarks were sure to follow.
Saturday marks a landmark day for the Seattle Sounders FC, as the club will play their 100th MLS regular season match when they face the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park.
It may be an inevitable milestone, but it also provides a good benchmark to compare the club with previous expansion clubs in Major League Soccer.
Through their first 99 matches, the Sounders have had success that has been unmatched in the current era of expansion teams, dating back to 2005 when Chivas USA and Real Salt Lake joined the league.
Only one expansion team in the history of the league has had more regular season success through their first 100 matches than the Sounders FC – the Chicago Fire team that won the US Open Cup and the MLS Cup in their inaugural season in 1998. The Fire went 52-30-18 in their first 100 games, counting shootout results as ties to fit with the current format, for 174 points. Seattle, meanwhile is 47-25-27 for 168 points through their first 99 matches.
That early success has been a direct reflection of an organization that has never taken the approach of a fledgling franchise.
“From day one we’ve been a team that’s competed. We’re a team that’s been in the playoffs and we haven’t acted like an expansion team in terms of our performances or our results. That’s what I’m most proud of, but it’s a tribute to everybody in the organization, from the front office to the players to the coaching staff to all the support staff,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “It’s a very professional environment from the beginning and it’s carried all the way through.”
In addition to their record in the standings, the 103 goals Seattle allowed is the fewest allowed by an expansion club, with the Fire second on that list with 136 goals allowed through 100 matches. In that time, they’ve scored 139 goals, third most among MLS teams since 2009 and have maintained the second-best record in the league in that time.
By comparison, the four expansion teams that joined the league since 2005 and have played 100 matches have all allowed far more goals than they’ve scored.
The San Jose Earthquakes joined as an expansion team in 2008, going 33-40-27 in their first 100 matches. They scored 117 goals while allowing 133.
In 2007, Toronto FC became the 13th franchise and went 28-44-28 in their first 100 matches, being outscored 153-109.
In 2005, Chivas USA (30-41-29) and Real Salt Lake (22-53-25) came into the league together. Chivas scored 131 goals while allowing 151 and RSL scored 115 while allowing 170.
That consistent success has been the hallmark of the Sounders through their first three seasons. It was unmatched by their recent predecessors and has proven even more unique as Philadelphia, Portland and Vancouver all struggled in their first seasons.
“It’s more a reflection that we’re doing consistently good work and that’s the most important thing,” Schmid said.
Kickoff for Saturday’s match is 5:30 pm Pacific. The match will be televised live on KONG 6/16 with the radio broadcast on 97.3 KIRO FM.