A weekend without a Sounders game. It just ain’t right.
The Major League Soccer schedule can be a confounding thing, even for a team that doesn’t face the rigors of the CONCACAF Champions League this season.
Coming up, though, the Sounders have a stretch of brutal, difficult matches, comprising both league play and the US Open Cup Final. It’s a stretch of four games in 13 days, all against solid opponents. Home versus Real Salt Lake. In Philly for the Open Cup. Then two more road games: Red Bulls and Dallas.
All playoff teams as of now. Only one home match. Even for a team sitting atop the Supporters’ Shield standings, that’s a tough task.
Let’s imagine how that might play out, based on absolutely nothing more than gut feelings and hope. RSL at home. Win. Open Cup final. Damn it, that’s a win, right? At Red Bulls … let’s postulate that they will lose that one given the challenge of the Open Cup. Then they go to Dallas and grab a point there. That’s four league points.
This will get them home to face the corpse of Chivas (whom they just beat 4-2) and the crumbling, striker-less Vancouver Whitecaps, with an away match against the slumping Rapids sandwich in between home games. Hell, I’m going optimistic here and predicting a nine-point sweep.
Meanwhile, let’s look at a surging team that seems to always have the Sounders’ number this time of year: The accursed LA Galaxy. Through the rest of September, they play four games: At Montreal on Wednesday. That’s a win. At the Quakes on Sunday. Another win. Then two home games: Dallas and Red Bulls. Let’s be optimistic and say they merely split those two. That’s nine points.
At the end of all this is a home-away pair between the Sounders and Galaxy that could very well decide the Shield race, assuming both teams are still in it by then. (This assumes that DC United is a bit of a mirage and that the suddenly reinvigorated, Alvaro Saborio-powered RSL won’t overtake both teams.)
If my completely unscientific prognostications hold true (and they almost certainly won’t), heading into those games the Sounders will have 64 points and the Galaxy will have 61. The much more scientific StatCorner website uses math I don’t understand coupled with home/away performance adjustments to predict end-of-season point totals. They’ve got Seattle finishing with 67 and LA with 64. I’d take that.
Regardless, this is shaping up to be a nerve-wracking, and potentially awesome/heart-breaking way to end the regular season. Bring it on.
(image courtesy of Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)