Top Stories

Following grueling journey, Sounders ready for one more match as MLS Cup looms

Jul 13, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Sounders FC goalkeeper Stefan Frei (24) applauds the supporters section following a 5-0 victory against FC Dallas at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Photo by Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports

TORONTO — The journey to the MLS Cup for the Seattle Sounders had plenty of bumps on the road. It was, at times, frustrating and downright exhausting, but with one more obstacle left in their path, the Western Conference champions are confident they have enough gas left in the tank to push through.

“I think we’ve officially made this the longest season you can possibly make in MLS,” Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei said. “But I think the guys are really excited and they are honored that they can still be playing soccer.”

The Sounders’ odyssey to the Great White North began almost 10 months ago with their 2015-16 CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals tilt with Club América. In the 44 games since, Seattle has had to deal with a coaching change, injuries to key players and the loss of Clint Dempsey. Through it all, the Sounders embraced a must-win mentality for a better half of the season just to climb out of the basement of the conference.

“It’s a double-edged sword in a way because you want to do well, but the more you do well and the more you’re climbing out of the hole, the more you don’t want to disappoint yourself at the very end but not get in the playoffs,” Frei said. “So those couple of last games were very tough mentally.”

Under Brian Schmetzer, who took over for Sigi Schmid at the helm in July, Seattle managed to finish fourth in the West after ranking as low as ninth on Sept. 16. Playing under that type of pressure took its mental and physical toll on the Sounders, but the players believe that kind of experience is something they can draw on this week to prepare for the big match ahead.

“It’s been nonstop since about July for us,” Frei said. “At some point, we’re going to need a break, but we have a couple of more days now and hopefully all those bouts and fights that were do-or-die essentially will help us in this one game that will decide for both teams.”

Dealing with this type of stress and challenge for so long was grueling, admitted several Sounders, but being able to stick together up until this point makes them believe they can conquer it one more time.

“There has been a lot of ups and downs but there’s one thing that remains and that’s the spirit of this squad,” said defender Tyrone Mears. “Everybody stuck in no matter the result and that’s why we are getting the rewards.”

“The goal at the end is now MLS Cup, and to reach there, you’ve got to keep going, you’ve got to push through it,” added Brad Evans. “And what we’ve endured to prove something to ourselves and to this group of players, that’s what’s been most important.”


  1. Although the Sounders have dispatched every team in their way during the playoffs, TFC -at least to me, might just be too big of a hurdle. Don’t get me wrong. I could care less about any team other than Seattle.

    This game is going to come down to who survives the physical battle..

    I doubt this final will be an enjoyable festival of soccer greatness, a Will Johnson would make my decade tho


Leave a Comment