As the Seattle Sounders prepare for their 2021 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs Round One matchup with Real Salt Lake (7:30 p.m. PT; FS1, FOX Deportes, 1090 KJR AM, El Rey 1360AM | TICKETS) on November 23 at Lumen Field, let’s look back at the team’s successful 2021 MLS Regular Season.
As has become the norm for the Sounders this time of year, several members of the Rave Green are finalists for MLS End of Year Awards. Yeimar is up for Defender of the Year, João Paulo is in contention for Landon Donovan Most Valuable Player, and Brian Schmetzer is a finalist for Sigi Schmid Coach of the Year.
Four players earned shutouts in goal this season. Spencer Richey (two), Stefan Cleveland (three) and Stefan Frei (four) all posted clean sheets, while wingback Alex Roldan helped keep a shutout when he stepped into goal for an injured Frei in Seattle’s 1-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes on May 12.
Playing in a more advanced attacking midfield role this year, Cristian Roldan upped his offensive production to the tune of six goals and six assists for a total of 12 goal contributions.
The Sounders set an MLS record by starting out the season on a 13-match unbeaten streak. The Rave Green did not suffer their first defeat of the year until July 18.
Despite only starting 24 matches through a combination of international duty and injury, Ruidíaz still managed to tie the franchise record for most goals in an MLS regular season with 17. The last Sounder to hit the 17-goal mark was Obafemi Martins during the 2014 Supporters’ Shield-winning campaign.
The Sounders shifted to a new three center back formation ahead of the 2021 season. In the new system, the wingbacks were tasked with generating goal-scoring opportunities from the flanks. It’s safe to say they stepped up, as Sounders wingbacks combined for eight goals and 13 assists.
For just the third time in club history, the Sounders reached 60 points during the regular season. The team also posted a +20 goal difference en route to finishing second in the Western Conference.
Following offseason departures of veteran players like Gustav Svensson and Kelvin Leerdam, the Sounders prioritized developing a host of talented young players at the club. Teenagers on the roster combined for 2,850 minutes played during MLS action alone. Midfielders Josh Atencio and Danny Leyva combined for 26 starts.