Before we move move full steam ahead into the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs, let's take a look back at another special regular season. The Rave Green earned the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference after Sunday's 1-0 win against Minnesota United on Sunday. After clinching a spot in the postseason last month, the Sounders became the first team in MLS history to qualify for the playoffs in 11 consecutive seasons.
To commemorate the conclusion of the 34-match regular season, we once again collaborated with local artist Ian Mork to create an epic team poster. Can you find all the hidden meanings? Let’s break it down!
In the top left, a pair of players who joined midseason (Justin Dhillon, row four & Luis Silva, row three) are waving, signaling their recent arrival to the squad. A pair of defenders, Saad Abdul-Salaam and Jonathan Campbell, are in the middle of sporting new looks, with Abdul-Saalam cutting his dreadlocks he had at the start of the season and Campbell shockingly shaving his magnificent beard in August (but that didn't last long). Next up in the top row, a pair of stalwart center backs, Kim Kee-hee and Román Torres, pose back-to-back. Will Bruin, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury in July, made his broadcast debut in Colorado in September. Lastly in the top row, acrobatic Homegrown Player Handwalla Bwana flips his way into the illustration.
In the third row, Kelvin Leerdam stands next to Silva, with the Broldans on the other side of him. Alex is pranking his older brother, Cristian, who is eating pizza and holding an American flag with his dear friend/USMNT teammate Jordan Morris. Harry Shipp is, naturally, holding a boat, and Gustav "Goose" Svensson is making sure the goose is always on the loose.
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The second row features Emanuel Cecchini enjoying mate with his fellow South American teammate Nicolás Lodeiro, who is also wearing the captain's armband. In the center of the photo, Nouhou, who is quite fond of the front-facing camera, snaps a selfie with roommate/good buddy Jordy Delem, who is flashing his go-to pose of a wink and a thumbs up. Raúl Rudíaz is showcasing his goal celebration, while also wearing the "SIGI" armband the club wore earlier this season in honor of the late Sigi Schmid. Brad Smith and Joevin Jones are each holding signs that point out the obvious: Smith's loan was extended this summer, while Jones returned after a season-and-a-half in Germany.
Lastly, the bottom row begins with a quartet of goalkeepers: Stefan Frei works on one of his majestic paintings, with Bryan Meredith and Trey Muse holding the canvas. And of course, Sounders legend Bheem Goyal holds the Cascadia Cup, which the club earned in August. Perhaps the most details are displayed on newcomer Xavier Arreaga, who is on his knees celebrating, just like he does after each win on the field. Look closer and you can see Arreaga's yellow undershirt and his jersey tucked into his waistband, which are two notable trademarks of his matchday look. Víctor Rodríguez is dancing backwards with his finger guns, and teenage phenoms Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez and Danny Leyva, each of whom signed First Team deals this season, are wearing backpacks since they are both still taking high school classes.
Each international player who received a call-up from their national team in 2019 has a badge of their country on their sleeve.
The scene is set at CenturyLink Field with an epic pink-sky backdrop, which was the inspiration for this season's Nightfall kit. The characters in the illustration also include Sammy the Sounder, the beloved mascot who made his return to the club this year, and recent retiree Chad Marshall in the upper right corner with a Golden Scarf. The dog on the right side is a nod to Washington Husky Henry Wingo, who transferred to a Norwegian club in August.
A couple of the club's 2019 marketing nuggets are sprinkled throughout the piece, with Meredith's face painted like the shots from the "For the Greater Green" campaign and a poster of the "10 Years in MLS" logo in the upper right corner. In August, the club announced a new Ownership Group, featuring Seattle-based stars Macklemore and Russell and Ciara Wilson, who are featured in the top row of the stands. There is also a shoutout to long-time owner Joe Roth for his contributions to the club.
BUY NOW: 2019 Team Illustration Poster
Core pillars of the club, equality and community, are seen in the pride flag and RAVE Foundation sign, in addition to an "Anti-Fascist, Anti-Racist, Always Seattle" banner. There are staples of the CenturyLink Field matchday experience with the flame towers and the trophy banners hanging from the rafters. The team's jersey partner, Zulily, has a sign in the stands, and tucked away in the top left is a jab at the Timbers from some social media banter in August. And of course, we cannot forget about the Gold Elevator!
Lastly, there is a banner that no other team in MLS history can hang: 11 Seasons 11 Postseasons