SEAvVAN Culture sider cover

For the Seattle Sounders, qualifying for the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs is an expectation.

On Saturday, a 4-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps clinched a spot in the postseason for an MLS-record 13th consecutive season. It’s a milestone the Sounders have achieved in every single season of its MLS existence.

Saturday’s comprehensive win over a regional rival presented an opportunity for players and coaches to reflect on the club’s unprecedented level of sustained success, and all the iconic figures since 1974 who helped foster such a winning culture.

“Sigi [Schmid] started us off really well,” Head Coach Brian Schmetzer said after the match. “When we first started in ’09, Sigi was absolutely the right guy to start our club. I thought he did a great job for this club. We were competitive, we won some U.S. Open Cups. We did a lot of good things.”

Schmetzer also noted that the organization’s success on and off the field can be traced back decades across several iterations of professional soccer in North America. From club’s founding in the NASL to its rebirths in the A-League, USL First Division and Major League Soccer the Seattle Sounders have always been a proud club.

In fact, the Sounders have enjoyed so much success on the pitch that they must continually raise the bar. Qualifying for the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs was certainly a thrilling accomplishment as an expansion club. Fast forward 13 years – with four U.S. Open Cups, a Supporters’ Shield and two MLS Cup titles in tow – and making it to the postseason is now a pre-requisite.

“We’re all very happy,” said new signing Leó Chú, who already seems deeply ingrained the club’s culture. “It’s the wrap of one more phase that we can be in the playoffs. It adds to the club. It adds to the team. I’m very happy. Step by step, we will go after this title.”

Part of what has made the Sounders perennial contenders is the club’s deep-seated commitment to winning. That ethos permeates throughout the entire organization, and it has fostered a soccer identity in which the players and coaching staff simply find ways to win regardless of circumstances.

That culture has been on full display this season. The Sounders sit first in the Western Conference with 57 points despite missing two 2020 MLS Best XI players in Jordan Morris and Nicolás Lodeiro for most of the season and going without the services of a host of starters through injuries and international absences.

“I think the identity of the team is coming into focus,” added Schmetzer. “We know how we want to play at home or away, and if we make small changes in personnel or small changes in the tactics, overall the team knows exactly who they are and how they want to play.”

With a spot in the 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs secured, the Sounders have already shifted focus to their next mission.

“We just want to finish first in the West,” said Schmetzer. “That’s our next objective.”

The Sounders return to the road this weekend for Saturday’s away match at the Houston Dynamo (5:30 p.m. PT; FOX 13+, Prime Video, El Rey 1360AM).