The Seattle Sounders closed the book on their 2022 season on Sunday with a 2-2 home draw against the San Jose Earthquakes. The match capped a year that saw the highest of highs with a Concacaf Champions League win, the first team in MLS history to win its modern iteration, and the lowest of lows, failing to make the postseason for the first time in the club’s 14-year MLS history.
Sounders right back Alex Roldan called 2022 “a strange year,” and Sunday’s result was very much a microcosm of the season. The Sounders took the lead inside a minute behind a Nicolás Lodeiro goal, but twice failed to hold a one-goal advantage.
“We have to take the positives with us into the offseason and also learn from our mistakes we made this year and hopefully turn that around for next year,” said Roldan. “It’s going to be an important one: how we bounce back, how we recover from this season. Going into next year, we’ll have that in mind.”
The Sounders will start their 2023 campaign in early January, as they prepare for a trip to the FIFA Club World Cup to compete against the likes of Real Madrid and other massive clubs from around the globe. The extra time off to recover is a silver lining, as 2023 figures to be just as long and grueling of a season with the addition of the month-long Leagues Cup between MLS and Mexico’s Liga MX next summer and MLS Cup slated for December.
“We’ve already started that work,” said Head Coach Brian Schmetzer. “We’ve already listed what we feel is important moving forward, player-wise, training-wise, how we can get the team back in the playoffs for next season. That’s already started. We’ll have meetings in the next couple weeks.”
Seattle’s roster at the Club World Cup could look different than the one that won CCL this past May, but many of the talented mainstays will still be available. The Sounders will also hopefully be buoyed by the return of central midfielders João Paulo, a 2021 MLS MVP Finalist and Best XI, and precocious teenager Obed Vargas, each of whom had his season cut short due to injuries.
“I certainly think the pieces are here,” said Roldan. “We have some talented players, the addition of some new players…if you look at our lineup, at our [depth] chart, we have the pieces and it’s just about putting it together in the right rhythm. You saw that in Champions League. We found a good rhythm, we found a way to win games with that lineup, but unfortunately it ran its course and we couldn’t figure out the solution to win games at the end of the season.”
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For the first time since their introduction to Major League Soccer in 2009, the already-eliminated Sounders played their Decision Day match without valuable points at stake. But that didn’t stop the team from trying to put on a show for the home fans one last time this year before regrouping for another trophy quest in just a few short months’ time.
“We would have loved to have collected a few more points and had this game mean something,” said Schmetzer. “The players presented themselves in a very professional fashion.
“The messaging before the game was, ‘No. 1, it’s your personal pride. It’s the standard you set for yourself that’s going to show. Then out of respect for your teammates that have been with you all year long. You need to make sure that you play for them. Third and finally, and maybe most importantly, for the fans who come out and pay your salary, who come out and cheer for you all the time, win or lose.’ Those things have to have some effect on us as players and as human beings.”