Sounders: Writing appears to be on the wall for playoff chances
By Paul Taylor
Heading into Friday's crucial game in Portland, we wrote about the lack of luck the Sounders have been having of late. It made you wonder if a playoff appearance just wasn't meant to be this year.
This might not seem a big deal to a lot of MLS clubs, but it's different where Seattle is concerned. After all, we're talking about a club which has never missed the playoffs since joining the league in 2009.
Unfortunately for Rave Green fans, the subsequent 2-1 loss to their biggest rivals doesn't bode well for their club's playoff hopes this year. Their MLS record of 13 consecutive postseason qualifications is well and truly under threat.
By extension, failing to qualify would also see the end of two other extremely impressive streaks. More specifically, the Sounders have never finish lower than fourth in the Western Conference or seventh in the Supporters' Shield standings.
The Seattle Sounders have plenty of reason to be proud after everything they've achieved since joining MLS in 2009, but all good things must come to an end eventually.
Some will point to injuries as a big reason for the Sounders' struggles in league play this year. Certainly, the lengthy absence of the likes of Joao Paulo and Raul Ruidiaz (and now Cristian Roldan) haven't helped.
However, there is still more than enough talent on the roster to get better results. A record of 3-8-1 in the past 12 games is not excusable - not for this club.
On the other hand, this should not be perceived as a harsh criticism of the Sounders per se. Some of the comments coming out -- albeit only by a small minority -- that Brian Schmetzer should be fired, are asinine.
How is it even possible for thoughts like this to come from any Seattle Sounders fans? This is still the same team that this very same season became the first MLS side to win the CONCACAF Champions League.
Even if this wasn't the case, it still shows a certain amount of ignorance to suggest Schmetzer should be fired. Have the fans wishing for this, forgotten all that the Seattle native has done in his time as Sounders head coach?
Schmetzer led the club to the first two MLS Cup wins in franchise history and has appeared in four MLS Cup finals altogether. He's also the first head coach to lead a club to three consecutive Cascadia Cups in the MLS era.
Aside from having a bit more patience, understanding and common sense when it comes to the 60-year-old, how about some basic decent loyalty? He's certainly been loyal to them, with his connection to the Sounders going back as far as 1980.
Going back to the club's performances of late, it's tough to a put your finger on what the problem is exactly. In fairness, it's really a combination of reasons, such as the aforementioned injuries and lack of luck, along with just not performing up to their capabilities.
The Sounders have especially struggled up front and are just 10th in the Western Conference for goals scored this year. In this respect, the Timbers game perfectly illustrated this point, with them managing just nine shots (including only two on target) even with their season essentially on the line.
In fairness to Seattle. their chances of playoff qualification are still decent, at least from a mathematical perspective. They still have seven games to go, including four at home.
However, this is more of an eye test as opposed to a mathematical equation. The club simply doesn't look good enough at the moment, in the same way the game isn't played on paper, no matter how strong the lineup reads.
To be clear, this writer has absolutely no problem in being proved wrong and certainly, if there's one team you should never ever count out, it's the Sounders. However, all good things must come to an end eventually and as things stand, the writing appears to be on the wall for their playoff chances.
Do you still have belief the Sounders will make the playoffs, or do you think this is the year they finally miss out? Let us know in the comments section below.