TUKWILA, Wash – The Seattle Sounders aren’t supposed to roll like this.
Seattle are used to being thought of as one the model franchises in MLS. They’ve never missed the playoffs in their nine MLS seasons and have been to each of the past two MLS Cups, winning it all in 2016. They’re the 2014 Supporters’ Shield winners and four-time U.S. Open Cup champions.
So far in 2018, however, that Rave Green swagger is nowhere to be found. On Wednesday, the Sounders were unceremoniously bounced from the 2018 U.S. Open Cup following a 2-1 Fourth Round loss to USL side Sacramento Republic. It was a defeat that was arguably the low point on top of what has been a brutal campaign in league play, where Seattle have stumbled to a 2-7-2 record that leaves them with eight points, tied with the Colorado Rapids for the fewest in the league.
These are dark days any way you cut it. But speaking with reporters on Friday, Sounders forward Will Bruin said his team is also aware that it’s still early enough for one sustained stretch of victories to put Seattle back in the mix.
“I did the math the other day,” Bruin said. “There’s still 69 points on the table. I didn’t do the math of home and away games but, you know, that’s a lot of points in this league still on the table.
“We need our first three points and then we can go on from there, but like I’ve been saying [one win] can give a little more confidence, the doubt that’s been creeping in doesn’t affect us anymore,” he added. “Three points at a time is going to help us jump up the table and if you get three or four wins in a row, or win three of five or something like that, you jump up the table pretty quickly. Then it’d be a different conversation.”
In order to do so, however, the goal-starved Sounders need to start scoring – something they hope will become easier as they regain the services of some key contributors who have been kept out of action during a season that has seen the attack ravaged by a plethora of injuries.
Winger Victor Rodriguez finally made his season debut in Seattle’s 2-0 loss to Real Salt Lake last weekend, while Bruin said he’s on the mend from a partially torn fascia that has limited him in recent weeks.
Then there’s star midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro, who was sidelined with a toe injury before departing for camp with the Uruguayan national team as he tried to make the 23-man roster for this summer’s World Cup. Lodeiro didn’t make Uruguay’s final roster, however, and made his first appearance back at Sounders training at Starfire Sports Complex on Friday.
“The morale goes up from the get-go,” midfielder Cristian Roldan said of Lodeiro’s return. “You see it in the locker room – a lot of smiles, saying hello to Nico, who is probably frustrated more than anybody. But Nico comes here and works extremely hard and that’s what veterans do, that’s what good guys in the locker room do.”
If there’s a portion of the schedule that would seem to give the Sounders a good shot at stacking some points, this upcoming stretch could be it.
Counting this Saturday’s match (10 pm ET | Full TV & Streaming info) against a D.C. United side that is currently last place in the Eastern Conference, the Sounders play three of their next four games at home, including a bout with the struggling Chicago Fire on June 23. They also have what should ostensibly be a winnable road matchup against the Rapids on July 4.
At this point, though, there’s simply no more time to waste regardless of the opposition.
As coach Brian Schmetzer put it: “We need to start collecting points. The math is getting pretty obvious.”
“There’s a huge sense of urgency,” added Roldan. “Having a good home stretch is definitely helpful. We need to get back to winning all our home games and making this place a fortress and doing what we do best, and that’s keeping clean sheets and playing creative soccer.”