It’s the time of year when everyone around the country – and around the world – is making resolutions for the New Year as the clock winds toward midnight.
In tossing aside the 2012 calendar and hanging up the new calendar for 2013, the Sounders FC has some resolutions of their own.
Advance in the CONCACAF Champions League
Each year the Sounders have competed in the CCL, they have done better than they had the previous year. In 2010, they got through the preliminary round, but struggled in the Group Stage. In 2011, they got an historic win in Mexico over Monterrey and advanced through the Group Stage, only to fall in the quarterfinals to Santos Laguna.
This year, they stormed through the Group Stage at 4-0-0 and will meet up with Tigres in the quarterfinals – first playing in Mexico on March 6, then at CenturyLink Field on March 12.
Getting through to the semifinals would mean a meeting with either the Houston Dynamo or a rematch with Santos Laguna, putting them one step closer to the FIFA Club World Cup in December in Morocco.
Back to Open Cup Prominence
Technically, the Sounders FC has yet to lose a match in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, as their shootout defeat to Sporting Kansas City in the final goes in the record books as a draw. However, that hardly is consolation for a club that has taken pride in their dominance of the annual tournament.
Returning to the final for a fifth consecutive year and winning their fourth Open Cup in the club’s five-year history would certainly be listed as goals in 2013. Winning the tournament in its 100th year would just be a bonus.
Regain the Cascadia Cup
The Sounders were dealt a difficult hand when the 2012 MLS schedule was announced and they were left with four road games in Cascadia with just two home matches. The Portland Timbers won the cup, competed for among Seattle, Portland and Vancouver, for the first time all three clubs have vied for the trophy while playing their first four derby matches at home at Jeld-Wen Field.
The popular belief is that the Sounders will host four matches in the derby in 2013, increasing their chances of regaining the trophy they held in its resurgent year in 2011, after Portland and the Vancouver Whitecaps joined MLS.
The Sounders have two prominent streaks intact entering the 2013 season.
First, they haven’t lost consecutive MLS matches since the first two matches of the 2011 season, an MLS-record streak spanning 66 matches in regular season play. They will need a win or draw in the season-opener against the Montreal Impact on March 2 at CenturyLink Field after dropping the 2012 regular season finale to the LA Galaxy, so starting off the season strong will be key to keeping that streak alive.
The second is the club’s sellout streak, now 69 consecutive league matches, including playoffs, at CenturyLink Field.
Add to the trophy case
There are two trophies the Sounders FC seeks each year that they have yet to attain – the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup.
Will they have what it takes to climb that mountain in 2013? Time will tell, but with the start of training camp just three weeks away, fans won’t have to wait too long to see what the club will look like on the field.
What resolutions would you add to the list?