It’s that time of year again.
The nights are a little colder, the days are shorter, and the Seattle Sounders are once more on the precipice of locking up spot in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
When the Rave Green host the Vancouver Whitecaps (6:00 p.m. PT; FOX 13+, Prime Video, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360AM | TICKETS) at Lumen Field on Saturday, a win or a draw against their Pacific Northwest rivals will secure a MLS-record 13th consecutive berth to the postseason.
“It’s coming down to the final parts of the year,” Head Coach Brian Schmetzer said after training on Wednesday. “It’s rainy and cold, the way we like it. It’s a playoff atmosphere”.
That the Sounders could secure a place in the postseason with six games remaining in the regular season is a testament to the success and mentality of this squad.
Although the Sounders will be without some important members of the team – five players are away with international duty – they will continue to rely on the ‘Next Man Up’ ethos that has fueled such a dominant campaign.
“The fact that we might be able to do it without five or six guys – and not just five or six guys, but five or six starters,” added Rowe. “I think that’s incredible for everyone to witness and it’s exciting to have this run going forward.”
The Sounders struggled with injuries and international absences during large stretches of this season. That short-term pain has paid dividends, though, as the entire squad has been battle-tested and can step up when called upon. In particular, lots of those valuable minutes have gone to young Homegrown Players like Josh Atencio (19) and Danny Leyva (18), both of whom have developed into bonafide MLS contributors.
“Yeah, we’re missing some guys, but we’ve done this before,” noted Schmetzer. “We’ve had weeks where we’ve missed guys, but it’s a chance to see some of the young kids.”
Defeating the Vancouver Whitecaps at Lumen Field will be no easy task. The last time the Canadian club came to town, they picked up a shocking 2-2 draw that snapped the Sounders’ streak of not conceding a goal from the run of play at 949 minutes to start the season.
Since then, the Whitecaps have added some exciting attacking pieces and rattled off a 7-2-8 record from MLS play, a run that has seen them rise to just one spot out of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
Added Schmetzer: “I sure hope that the ‘Seattle Sunshine’ chant is out in full force, and that everybody in the ECS is there and they’re enjoying the rain, and they’re enjoying a good performance, and they’re enjoying the team because we’ve only got three [home] games left… I hope everybody shows up and that we play well down the stretch, and we extend our season a little bit.”
Saturday’s match also holds massive implications for the 2021 Cascadia Cup. A win would see the Rave Green pull level with the Portland Timbers atop the standings for the regional trophy, with both Seattle and Portland each having one game remaining in the competition after this weekend.
You can find everything you need ahead of this weekend’s crucial home match HERE.