Throughout their lives, every player and coach with the Sounders FC has seen hardship. They’ve seen obstacles to overcome and moments when they were doubted, even by themselves.
Jeff Parke was the last player taken in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft and has played 10 years in the league.
Brad Evans played on the US U20 National Team while at small-school UC-Irvine.
Steve Zakuani shattered his leg and 500 days later returned to the field for the Sounders FC.
The team will lean on all of those instances when they meet the LA Galaxy on Sunday in the second leg of the Western Conference Championship series, trailing 3-0 after the first leg at The Home Depot Center last weekend.
“All of them can look at challenges that they’ve had in their life where they’ve overcome things and succeeded at things where probably nobody gave them a chance,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said.
The Sounders FC is not taking the approach that the odds are stacked against them as much as they are prepared for an opportunity to mount a historical comeback on Sunday if they can battle back from the deficit to reach the MLS Cup for the first time in the club’s four-year history in the league.
And while they are taking an optimistic approach to the situation, they are also aware that it will take a lot of work to claw their way back into the series.
“Sunday has the opportunity to be a fantastic evening for the club, for the league and for soccer,” Schmid said. “But it’s a deep hole and we have to work to get out of it.”
The Sounders have had plenty of three-goal victories throughout their MLS existence, including a 4-0 pounding of the Galaxy on August 5 at CenturyLink Field. Last year, they nearly came back from the same 3-0 deficit against Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference Semifinals, only to fall 3-2 in the series.
While those experiences may show that it can be done, those aren’t the motivational tools Schmid and the Sounders are using.
“They know that they came out and put on a great display,” Schmid said of the 2-0 win in the second leg of the series with Salt Lake last year that very nearly saw the Sounders find the series equalizer. “So we know that they have that capability, but every year is different, every series is different and we have to take this game as it comes to us.”
For the Sounders, the time to talk has past. Preparation and execution are the keys that will get them to MLS Cup and they will have to get through the defending champions to get there.
“It doesn’t matter what we talk about, it’s what we do on Sunday. It’s the effort that we bring on Sunday. We know we can play better. We know we have to play better.”
Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. PT with national television coverage on ESPN. Tickets are still available at SoundersFC.com.