Tukwila – Sitting six points off the final qualifying spot with only five games left to go has erased it all. Seattle Soundersroom for error. While winning and getting 51 points would secure them a spot in the 14th consecutive season of MLS Postseason, the math gets more difficult very quickly in any other scenario. Anything less than 47 points – leaving room for points to drop in no more than two games – will likely result in a failure to qualify.
With that in mind, the Sounders are treating their last five games with an extra level of import.
“Every game from now on is a final for us,” Sounders midfielder Jordan Morris said after Wednesday’s training session. “We really need to keep tense wins together to get ourselves back above the line.”
So far, the Sounders streak is sitting on one after their first win in over a month, a 2-1 win that comes from behind on Houston Dynamo Sunday. The loss left Dinamo at the bottom of the Western Conference standings and resulted in coach Paulo Nagamura being sent off. The Sounders’ next test will be much bigger as they prepare to host second-placed Austin FC on Saturday.
Austin leads the Western Conference with 60 goals, is second with a +18 goal difference and already has way points (26) more than the host (25) this year. They are led by MLS MVP candidate Sebastien Driosi, who has scored 20 goals and seven assists. The Sounders tied Austin 1-1 in a road match earlier this year, but needed several big saves from Stephan Cleveland to secure the point.
Head coach Brian Schmitzer acknowledged that Morris’ thinking is effectively correct, but also urged a more focused approach.
“My cautionary story is that you can’t look forward to the other four games, you have to focus on this game,” he said. “It’s a word game, but every match counts, every home match counts. You want to win your home games, you have to get something on the road. There are a lot of storylines in every one of the last five matches and yes, it’s all like finals, but let’s focus. on this first.”
Schmetzer said Christian Roldan targets Sporting KC The match is on October 2 for his possible return from hip surgery. Roldan has missed the Sounders’ last four games since he was diagnosed with sports pain (also known as a sports hernia). Roldan has resumed light sprinting and should ramp up relatively quickly over the next two weeks.
“We have strict protocol and we won’t rush it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he did,” Schmitzer said.
After taking a closer look at the movie Dynamo Match, Schmetzer said he remains satisfied with playing Josh Atencio and Danny Leyva as midfielders. It was the second time they both started playing MLS, but they’ve been paired in countless matches for the Academy of Sounders and Tacoma Defiance over the years. Schmetzer acknowledged that Austin’s penchant for pressure would present a very different challenge than Houston’s lower mass, but seemed inclined to give them that opportunity.
“On review, Josh and Danny did a really good job of patrolling that area of the field,” Schmitzer said. “They were a good pair. They showed that they played together in Defiance, and they didn’t seem too far off the move at all.”