The Seattle Sounders are on their best run of form since last season’s postseason surge to MLS Cup. They’re unbeaten in six matches, just capped a nine-point week with a 3-1 win over New York City FC and end the weekend just five points out of the final playoff spot in the West with a game in hand.
Don’t tell them that, though.
“The incredible thing about this [run] is that we’re not playing well,” said midfielder Cristian Roldan, candidly. “We’re grinding out games, we’re winning these games because we’re playing good defense and scoring that one or two goals. That’s the scary part. You think about six unbeaten — if we start playing well like we’re supposed to, we can go on a really long run. The goal is to play as well as we can toward the end of the season and into the playoffs.”
Added midfielder Harry Shipp: “Not every game is going to be super pretty. We didn’t play well, but we won a game. For us, it’s not about stringing together 100 passes and scoring the perfect goal, it’s about being smart and not conceding goals, but scoring one, two, three goals a game and winning games. If we keep collecting points, we’re not only going to be in the playoffs, we’re going to be dangerous at the end of the year.”
What’s kept the Sounders in playoff contention, even when goals weren’t going their way offensively in the first half of the season, has been their defense. In 21 matches, Seattle has only conceded 24 times, best in the Western Conference and second in MLS.
Ozzie Alonso dribbles vs. NYCFC at CenturyLink Field | USA Today Sports
“We’ve put ourselves in a really big hole,” said Head Coach Brian Schmetzer. “We need to collect points. I don’t care where we collect them, how we collect them, we need to collect points. This team deserves to be in the playoffs. They have put the work in. It’s just a question of, ‘Can we dig ourselves out?’”
Things certainly seem to be aligning for the Sounders at the right time, something that has become very familiar in the MLS landscape over the last three seasons. Raúl Ruidíaz has made an immediate impact up front. Román Torres and Gustav Svensson have returned from the FIFA World Cup. Ozzie Alonso is back to looking like his vintage self. And before his unfortunate recent hamstring strain, Víctor Rodríguez had come back from a knee injury and showed an attacking impetus on the wing.
“I attribute [our current form] to the individuals who are sitting in that locker room,” said Schmetzer. “They are a proud bunch of guys. It’s pro sports, we get it. There are a lot of things that go into winning and winning championships, going to two MLS Cups…Without a doubt, without a question in my mind, that team, that group never gives up. They always compete, all of them, and that’s what makes my job so much easier when you have guys who are committed to winning. All the credit goes to them.”