Unpacking the Seattle Sounders' brilliant summer return to form
Despite having arguably the best roster in the MLS, the Seattle Sounders season got off to a very rough start. Although, the team is getting better, the team sits eighth in the Western Conference with 26 points through 19 matches (8-2-9).
Despite having one of the most talented rosters in the MLS and a CONCACAF Champions League title, the Sounders sit in eighth place in the Western Conference. For those who don't know what the history of the club is like, sitting in eighth place isn't something that it is used to.
For reference, the Sounders finished as the second place team in the West in every season from 2017-2021. In addition, the club has finished in the top four of the Western Conference standings since the club's inception in 2009. In its history, the Sounders have appeared in four MLS Cups, winning two of them. The team has been dominance has been consistent. Now, one can understand how shocking the slow start has been.
The Sounders started off the season poorly, losing five of their first eight matches (2-1-5). Earning a measly seven points in eight weeks is not something that the storied franchise is used to. During that span, the team scored just nine goals and conceded 12. For reference, the Sounders lost only right games in the entire 2021 season. For a team with title aspirations, this was extremely disappointing, but there is some explanation as to why this happened.
Some of the team's best players in midfielder Nicolas Lodiero (1), forward Raul Ruidiaz (0), defender Yeimar Gomez Andrade (4) and midfielder João Paulo (4) all missed time during the first eight games. So, as the team got more healthy, better results were to be expected.
In the team's next nine matches, the Sounders have picked up an incredible 19 points (6-1-2). The six wins helped get the team on the right track, and have scored 17 goals and allowed just six goals during their hot streak. If the Sounders kept the +11 goal differential that they earned in the revival, the club would be one of five teams in the MLS to have a goal differential of at least +10.
So, what sparked the revival of the Sounders? The performances of Ruidíaz and Lodeiro have brought new life to the team. Since returning from injury, Ruidíaz has five goals and has led the team to four wins in five games. Lodeiro has also contributed two goals and an assist in that time frame. Keeping him healthy is priority No. 1, as the team is 5-1-2 in games that the Uruguayan starts. When their stars are on the field, the Sounders are going to perform at the highest level.
Going forward, it seems like the Sounders have found their form. With the team getting healthy, the possibilities are endless for the CCL winners. Although the team sits eighth with 26 points, the Sounders are just two points behind fifth place, as FC Dallas, Minnesota United all have 28 points.
One game can change everything for the Sounders, putting them in a playoff spot with a win. Only time will tell how the Sounders will finish out the season, but if the past few weeks have been any indication, the two-time MLS Cup winners could find themselves competing for a third title if all goes well.