Best moments in Seattle Sounders’ MLS franchise history: Numbers 7-5

Heading into the 2016 MLS Cup Final on Saturday, is taking a look at the 10 best moments in the Seattle Sounders’ Major League Soccer history. No's. 10-8 were released on Monday, No's. 7-5 on Tuesday, No's. 4-3 on Wednesday, No. 2 on Thursday and No. 1 on Friday.

No. 7: The Highest-Attended Game at CenturyLink Field

Aug. 25, 2013, was a night to remember in Seattle.

Not only was it recent signing Clint Dempsey’s Sounders home debut, but Seattle defeated the rival Portland Timbers 1-0 in front of 67,385 fans, the most in Sounders history. That number surpassed the previous high of 66,452, a mark set in the Sounders’ 3-0 win over the Timbers on Oct. 7, 2012.

The attendance of 67,385 was the second-highest regular-season standalone crowd in MLS history and the most in 17 years. Only a match between the LA Galaxy and the NY/NJ MetroStars on April 13, 1996 has had more (69,255).

The CenturyLink Field crowd that evening was also the third-highest at any club match worldwide that weekend. Only Borussia Dortmund versus Werder Bremen (80,645) and Bayern Munich versus Nuremberg (71,000) in Germany’s Bundesliga saw larger numbers.

The Sounders’ win did not come easy, though. Portland came out firing in the first half highlighted by a Ryan Johnson missed breakaway and a Diego Valeri shot off the post. Seattle was lucky to make it to halftime with the match still scoreless.

Playmaking midfielder Mauro Rosales came on in the 56th minute for defensive midfielder Shalrie Joseph and changed the game’s dynamic. Just four minutes after Rosales entered, he whipped in a free kick, which Eddie Johnson flicked into the net for the eventual game-winning goal.

No. 6: 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League Semifinals Appearance

The Sounders had had success in Major League Soccer, and in the 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League, they proved it internationally.

A year after losing in the CCL quarterfinals, the Sounders found redemption and booked their ticket to the semifinals, the farthest they had ever gone in the competition. Seattle defeated Tigres UANL of Liga MX, the first time an MLS franchise had ever knocked off a Mexican opponent in the knockout round of CCL. Seattle lost 1-0 on the road in the first leg before winning 3-1 at home to advance 3-2 on aggregate.

Seattle lost in the semifinals to Mexican side Santos Laguna in a rematch of the 2011-12 quarterfinals, but the Sounders are now still one of only five teams in MLS to have ever reached the CCL semis. Real Salt Lake and the Montreal Impact are the only two MLS clubs to reach the finals.

Although they fell in the semifinals, the Sounders, who at the time were just five years into their top-flight existence, proved they belonged with the region’s best.

Seattle can clinch a spot in the 2017-18 CCL with a win over Toronto FC in the MLS Cup Final on Saturday, Dec. 10 (5 p.m. PT; FOX, TSN, UniMas, KIRO Radio 97.3 FM, El Rey 1360AM).

No. 5: The Sounders’ First Postseason Series Win

The Seattle Sounders qualified for the MLS Cup Playoffs in each of their first three seasons after joining the league as an expansion franchise in 2009. And in each of those three postseason appearances, Seattle bowed out in the Western Conference Semifinals.

In 2009, Seattle drew at home and then lost 1-0 to the Houston Dynamo in Houston. In 2010, the LA Galaxy swept the Sounders in their home-and-home series. And in 2011, Seattle came up a goal short to Real Salt Lake, unable to fully overcome a 3-0 first-leg defeat at Rio Tinto Stadium.

In 2012, the Sounders had another shot at RSL. This time, Seattle bucked their postseason woes and at last advanced to the Western Conference Championship.

Things did not look promising for Seattle, though, after the first leg at CenturyLink Field ended in a scoreless draw. The Sounders were forced to go to back to Rio Tinto, the venue where they had been beaten badly the previous year, and grind out a result.

That’s exactly what they did and behind the most unlikely of heroes.

With the match still scoreless in the 81st minute, Mario Martinez delivered the series-winning strike, a beautiful one-timed effort on a half-volley from the left side of the 18-yard-box. On loan from Honduran club Real España, Martinez had only played 40 total minutes in three matches in the regular season, yet came up with Seattle’s most important goal of the year and one of the biggest in its brief MLS history.

The goal would be Martinez’s only tally during his time in Seattle. He would play in 10 matches the following season before being signed by Ecuador’s Barcelona Sporting Club.

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