Seattle Sounders set historic MLS winning streak as confidence hits season high

SEATTLE — History made.

On Saturday, the Seattle Sounders defeated Sporting Kansas City 3-1 at CenturyLink Field to win their eighth consecutive match and set the MLS record for a single-season winning streak in the post-shootout era. They jumped to fourth in the Western Conference standings on 41 points.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the streak is the teams Seattle has dispatched in the last four matches: FC Dallas, the LA Galaxy, the Portland Timbers and Sporting KC, all of which are in the top seven in the West. The Sounders’ run also includes wins over Cascadia rival the Vancouver Whitecaps and Eastern Conference powerhouse New York City FC.

“It takes an entire group to make this accomplishment,” said Head Coach Brian Schmetzer. “They need to enjoy this moment because it’s pretty special. In a league filled with parity, this is a pretty big accomplishment. It’s going to get harder and harder and harder as more teams come into the league to do this.”

After a slow start to the campaign, the Sounders have catapulted up the Western Conference table and are finding their now-trademarked late-season form. No team in the league wants to face the Sounders right now. Raúl Ruidíaz is scoring and creating space. Brad Smith is buccaneering down the left flank. And Chad Marshall and Kim Kee-hee have found a rhythm on the back line.

“You make your own luck,” said Schmetzer. “Yes, we were unlucky at the beginning of the year, I’m not going to deny that. When you put pressure on opponents, good things happen.”

Ozzie Alonso dribbles past SKC’s Roger Espinoza | USA Today Sports

One of the biggest boosts for the Sounders has been the resurgence of captain Ozzie Alonso, who, now healthy, has completely locked down the midfield and been crucial in build-up play. His pass to Smith on Ruidíaz’s goal is just one example of many.

“That puts a smile on my face because he hasn’t been forgotten,” said Schmetzer. “He’s played at an extremely high level. We say vintage Ozzie, but Ozzie has been great throughout his career when he’s been on the field. I see Ozzie every day in training. He’s motivated. He wants to win. That’s the Ozzie I’ve known ever since 2009. I’m happy that he’s playing at a high level.”

The Sounders will now enjoy a bye week for an international break before putting their 11-match unbeaten streak on the line. Players will have a chance to rest and recharge their batteries before going for the Cascadia Cup title at the Whitecaps on Sept. 15. (7 p.m. PT; JOEtv, YouTube TV, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM).

“We said when we get a couple results, a little bit of confidence will come our way, and then we’ll be ready to take advantage of that confidence,” said goalkeeper Stefan Frei. “That has helped us to prolong this run.

“I’m very excited. It’s always nice to be in the history books. I think we can extend it a bit more and make it harder for others to catch up to us.”