Sounders climbing the ranks as season comes to a close

As the Major League Soccer season begins to wind down with its last regular season games, the Western Conference standings are still entirely up for grabs. Currently the Seattle Sounders are one of the four teams to have already qualified for playoffs amongst FC Dallas, Sporting Kansas City and the Los Angeles Football Club. The interesting point among these four teams is that they all have 16 wins coming into the last two weeks of games, the only point of separation being in total points, a statistic that puts Seattle in fourth place among these teams. Even then, the Sounders’ 53 points are only four behind FC Dallas’ first place 57 points.

The 2018 Seattle Sounders’ playoff berth on Oct. 18 marks their tenth consecutive playoff appearance which tied the 1996-2005 Los Angeles Galaxy for the longest playoff streak in MLS history. For a while this appearance did not seem possible, but on the back of a nine-game win streak culminating in the Oct. 18 victory at Orlando City SC, Seattle turned a lackluster season into one for the books. Head coach Brian Schmetzer commented that, “I love the way our team is in the sense that they have a good mindset. At home, on the road, it doesn’t matter. They never quit.”

Despite a surge in the standings, a rough start to the season means the team’s statistics don’t necessarily reflect their current strength as a roster. Regardless, they have a 13-goal differential which is superior to FC Dallas’ 12 and is leagues ahead of fifth place Portland Timber’s 4.

Midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro leads the team with eight goals and 12 assists. Forwards Will Bruin and Raul Ruidiaz both have seven goals while midfielder Cristian Roldan follows Lodeiro with eight assists. Goalkeeper Stefan Frei’s 105 saves are good for fifth in the MLS so far this year. Also, despite being fifth in shots with 37, Bruin leads the team in Shots on Goal with 18, which equates to just under 50 percent of his shots.

While their playoff appearance is already clinched, the last two games of the season remain just as important. The higher seeded team gets the home field advantage for their playoff game, so the Sounders will want to secure their last two wins for the third seed in the conference. Fortunately, the Sounders are heading into matches with lower ranked teams. Oct. 21 pits the Sounders in an away game against the tenth place Houston Dynamo, in which they should be able to call on Lodeiro and Ruidiaz who recently performed internationally for the Uruguay and Peru teams respectively. The last regular season game will be at home against the last place San Jose Earthquakes on Oct. 28. These should be relatively easy wins for the team and could play a huge part in finishing the regular season strong.