For the first time in club history, the Seattle Sounders will be competing for an MLS Cup at CenturyLink Field.
According to Head Coach Brian Schmetzer – a Seattle native, former Sounders player during the NASL days and head coach of the USL Sounders – the match presents a chance for the club to reward its loyal supporters with a trophy on home turf.
“This is a great opportunity for us to play in a sold-out building in front of our home fans,” he said. “We don’t want to screw this up. We want to make sure we put every effort into the game – the preparation for the game – to make sure that we give ourselves the best chance of winning.”
Yes, the Sounders have secured home field advantage by finishing as the No. 2 seed in the West and toppling the Supporters’ Shield-winning LAFC. But the team is aware that their opponent, Toronto FC, will head to the Emerald City in hopes of avenging the MLS Cup that the Sounders lifted at BMO Field back in 2016.
“They had a really good stretch of ten games to close out the season,” said Schmetzer, noting Toronto’s unbeaten run to close out the 2019 MLS regular season. “Their playoff performances have been very, very good.”
The shared history between the Sounders and TFC in MLS Cup finals – the Reds defeated the Rave Green in Toronto in the 2017 title match – raises the stakes ahead of the match.
“It’s almost the perfect completion to the trilogy,” said General Manager and President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey. “Now we’re playing one in Seattle and we want to win it.”
Lagerwey, who joined the club in 2015, has seen Schmetzer progress from assistant coach, to Interim Head Coach, to the full-fledged manager of his hometown club, leading the Rave Green to three MLS Cups in his first four seasons at the helm. That evolution, coupled with Schmetzer’s intimate ties to the community, makes this a particularly meaningful occasion.
“I think there is no one I could possibly be happier for to have an MLS Cup in Seattle than Brian Schmetzer,” he said. “This is a guy who's been there since day one… He has earned everything he’s gotten. To have him here as part of our club in this moment is just awesome.”
One match remains. pic.twitter.com/cTgKmHG7AT— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) November 1, 2019
The technical staff is thrilled that they have an opportunity to compete for a title on home turf. But with the MLS Cup final looming over the horizon, the work is just getting started.
“I want to make sure that we understand that this isn’t finished yet,” said Schmetzer. “We still have a game to play.”