The Seattle Sounders’ latest form could not have come at a better time.
Following a shorthanded 1-1 draw at Atlanta United on Sunday, the Sounders finished their only three-match road trip of the season while coincidentally recording their first three-match unbeaten streak of the 2018 MLS season.
Entering the first of their three road matches on July 4 at the Colorado Rapids, Seattle was already approaching a critical point in the season as it dwindled near the bottom of the Western Conference. Fail to pick up points on the road during this stretch, and the club’s quest to reach the postseason for the 10th consecutive season could very well be in jeopardy.
But Seattle, as it has the last two years en route to MLS Cup, dug deep in the dog days of summer and won at Colorado before earning gritty draws on back-to-back cross-country road trips at playoff team the New England Revolution and Supporters’ Shield-leading Atlanta United.
“This point, this game, mentally goes a long way,” said goalkeeper Stefan Frei, who finished with six saves, including this massive one that denied Chris McCann on the doorstep. “This is a difficult team to play against in their stadium, a difficult environment, and not a lot of teams find joy here. So for us to go down a man and still fight and hang on and get a point, mentally that’s going to go a long way.”
Víctor Rodríguez dribbles against Atlanta United | Kara Durrette
Quite ironically, the Sounders’ biggest successes this season have all come on the road. They recorded a satisfying win at Toronto FC, where they lost last year’s title match, as well has earned road points at two of the league’s best teams in Atlanta United and Sporting Kansas City. The Sounders have more points on the road this year (nine from 10 matches) than they do at home (eight from eight matches), a place where they have previously dominated.
“I like the mentality of the group, but we need to collect three points, three points, three points,” said Head Coach Brian Schmetzer. “I’m absolutely not complaining about our road form…our road form has been good, so now we’re going to work on getting points at home.”
The Sounders have a great opportunity to earn their third win of the year at CenturyLink Field next Saturday when they welcome the rival Vancouver Whitecaps (1 p.m. PT; JOEtv, YouTube TV, Univision-Seattle, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM | TICKETS). Vancouver currently sits two points outside of the Western Conference playoff table and has allowed 40 goals, third-most in MLS, through 20 matches.
“We’ve shown now that we can get results on the road, but going home now, we really have to get those three points at home,” said Frei. “It’s nice considering the circumstances, but the next game is going to be huge for us. We need three points.”