When the Sounders went down 3-0 to Los Angeles, they needed a big win to help them get through to the next round.
A 4-0 win in Seattle later, they were one step closer to the championship they strived for.
This isn’t a fantasy tale about Sunday’s Western Conference Championship meeting between the Sounders FC and the LA Galaxy, but rather a 32-year-old tale of the Sounders and LA Aztecs in the 1980 NASL playoffs.
The Sounders finished that season with a league-best 25-7 record and head coach Alan Hinton was named Coach of the Year while striker Roger Davies earned MVP honors. They got through the Vancouver Whitecaps in the first round of the playoffs and clashed with the Aztecs in the quarterfinals.
Then disappointment struck in the form of a 3-0 loss in Los Angeles.
“I could tell the players were ready to get back their record. And we just exploded on the field,” Hinton said. “I didn’t have to tell them very much because I could tell by their attitude that they were very serious, just like the Sounders are today. Nobody wanted the season to end.”
While the Aztecs got through to the semifinals after a 30-minute mini-game following Seattle’s 4-0 win in the Kingdome, as the NASL did not use aggregate scoring in the playoffs, to Hinton, it’s a sign that the Sounders have a legitimate shot to top the Galaxy on Sunday.
The 4-0 win in the Kingdome came under different circumstances than the Sounders face this weekend, but Hinton was a part of another tremendous comeback when his Derby County met Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League in the 1975-76 tournament. Derby County roared out to a 4-1 lead at home, only to see the lead slip away with a 5-1 defeat in Madrid after extra time.
“It’s very doable. For me, if we can score first, anything can happen,” Hinton said. “We’re still in it and there is a lot of precedent that it can happen.”
Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. PT from CenturyLink Field. The match will be nationally televised on ESPN, and can also be heard on 97.3 KIRO FM.