SEATTLE – The streak is over.
Now, the Seattle Sounders say it’s time to start a new one.
Seattle’s Friday training session at Starfire Sports Complex marked the club’s return to the practice field for the first time since its nine-game winning streak came to an unceremonious end in a 1-0 defeat to the visiting Philadelphia Union at CenturyLink Field on Wednesday. The streak was an MLS record for a single season in the post-shootout era and the disappointment at seeing it end on Seattle’s home turf was undeniable.
Even so, speaking with reporters after Friday’s practice, veteran forward Will Bruin said the team should still take a pride in a run that doesn’t figure to be duplicated in the parity-heavy world of MLS anytime soon.
“It’s crazy when you think about it,” Bruin said. “When you look at the big picture of how the last few months have been, it’s pretty cool. We went on a really good run. Now, it’s over with so we can start a new one. But it was cool to be a part of a group that gets nine wins in a row because that doesn’t happen. I don’t think that will be contested any time soon but maybe we can be the ones to contest it.”
Sounders Head Coach Brian Schmetzer also said he took some time to reflect on the milestone run following Wednesday’s match, echoing Bruin’s sentiment that the rareness of the accomplishment deserves to be appreciated now that it’s over.
“I did do a little reflection, actually a lot of reflection after the game and all day yesterday,” Schmetzer said. “And what I would say is that was a tremendous accomplishment by a tremendous bunch of guys. They beared down, they were not happy at the place they found themselves in the standings and they found a way to get themselves back into a position where they have a chance to make the playoffs and do some damage there."
“I’m awfully proud of every player in that clubhouse,” he continued. “Because they all put the hard work in to make something that I don’t know if that’s going to be touched in some time because MLS is a league full of parity. That was a tremendous achievement by a great bunch of guys.”
To start a new streak, the Sounders will have to get a three-point result on the road, something they did four times during the nine-game run.
This time, the opponent will be Western Conference nemesis LA Galaxy, who the Sounders blew out 5-0 the last time the sides met at CenturyLink Field on August 18. But the circumstances in that matchup were entirely different, as Schmetzer pointed out on Friday.
The Sounders celebrate after their first of five goals against the Galaxy on August 18 | Jane Gershovich
This time the Galaxy will have superstar forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who didn’t suit up for that last match at CenturyLink, as well as the sibling duo of Giovani and Jonathan dos Santos.
“[This match is] way different,” Schmetzer said. “Zlatan, dos Santos brothers, new coach, playoff implications – I mean, it’s all different. Way different.”
For all the attacking firepower the Galaxy stand to regain, they’ve had their issues defensively. LA have shipped 59 goals in 29 games this season, the second-highest total in the Western Conference behind the San Jose Earthquakes.
The key for the Sounders, Schmetzer said, is trying to balance attempting to exploit that vulnerability with defending intelligently and not letting the Galaxy’s plethora of offensive weapons make their mark.
“We’ll try and find the right balance of making sure we don’t give anything away because they actually score a bunch of goals too,” Schmetzer said. “But put them under pressure because they are a team that’s given up some goals.
“Each game is different. We certainly want to attack and score goals in every single game we play. How much risk do you take, that’s always the fine-tuning you need, the preparation for each opponent. We’ll be ready.”