Last season, Sounders FC went 10-2-5 at CenturyLink Field, including a 14-match home unbeaten streak. With such strong form on its home turf, earning points had become the expectation for Sounders FC.
So when Seattle saw two consecutive home losses in the first three home matches in 2014, Sounders FC made a bigger effort to return to the club's 2013 form. After a 4-1 win over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday extended Seattle's overall unbeaten streak to four matches, Seattle has started along that path.
"You always want to do well at home. You want it to be a fortress. You want it to be a place where people know it's going to be difficult to get points," Sounders FC forward Clint Dempsey said. "Getting in a good rhythm has allowed us to come here and put in a good performance. Now it's about that confidence of playing at home and continuing that moving forward."
Seattle's two home defeats both came by a 2-1 score, but with very fixable mistakes and lapses in concentration. Correcting those errors has been a focus for Seattle and while it hasn't produced a clean sheet since a 2-0 win over the Montreal Impact on March 23, the defense has proven to be stout in its efforts in the last three matches.
Putting those losses behind them has allowed Seattle to build momentum and it has had a snowball effect on the scoreboard.
"It's tough when you lose at home. You have to be good at home, but it's soccer," midfielder Osvaldo Alonso said. "You forget about those games and winning on Saturday was very important for us."
Every team has pressure to win at home and earn as many points as possible in front of a supportive crowd. That pressure is heightened in Seattle, where the club has set MLS records each year with its robust attendance figures.
Sounders FC has made a consistent effort to reward those fans with consistent results, home and away.
"We've talked about it—our fans are fantastic and we hadn't given them a lot to cheer about the last few home games the way the results went," Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. "But we don't think we played poorly in those games, so it was just a matter of getting the result and matching it with a performance."
As much joy as the dominant performance against Colorado created, the Sounders also know that they can't rest on their laurels. One result does not a season make. So while the demeanor of training is much more cheerful, the team knows that there are still many hills to climb before it can reach its ultimate goal of winning MLS Cup.
"It's not just one game and everybody's going to be happy. We know that throughout the season, those performances will add up and we will reward the fans for the atmosphere that they create here. It's not like any other atmosphere," Dempsey said. "It's an awesome experience for players to be able to play in that type of environment and it shows how far the game is coming in the states."
Sounders FC will play its next two matches at home, first against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday, then on May 7 against FC Dallas.