Seattle Sounders got off to a disappointing start in the MLS and found themselves winless after four matches. The Western Conference outfit were defeated in the MLS Cup final by first-time winners Toronto FC at the end of 2017 and big things were expected from Brian Schmetzer’s side this time around. Century Link Field was a fortress throughout the previous season with the Sounders suffering just a single defeat in front of their own fans but they failed to register in their opening two matches of 2018 and supporters were beginning to get a little concerned.
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Fast forward four months and the Sounders are starting to climb the standings and have firmly put themselves back in the playoff hunt. They went unbeaten throughout July, picking up 14 points from a possible 18 culminating in a notable victory against Eastern Conference behemoths New York City FC. They are perennially involved in the post-season showdown and the smart money is on Schmetzer’s men to continue their surge towards the top six places.
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Schmetzer has constantly preached patience throughout the campaign and he was always quick to assuage any concerns from the Sounders’ passionate support. He deserves enormous credit for turning things around on the West Coast and for sticking to his principles. There have been a number of key players who have helped turn their fortunes around with the ever-impressive Nicolas Lodeiro, Cristian Roldan and the always reliable Stefan Frei regular starters this season. Gustav Svensson’s return to the side has also coincided with an upturn in form. The midfielder was selected as part of Sweden’s World Cup 2018 squad and is likely to link up with his countrymen once again in September when the UEFA Nations League gets underway. Despite reaching the quarter-finals in Russia, the Swedes have been placed in League B, Group 2 and are currently 13/8 in the international football betting to finish top of that section.
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Schmetzer has further bolstered his squad with the addition of Raul Ruidiaz who made his first start for the club against New York City FC. The Peruvian has enjoyed success in Liga MX and his arrival has increased competition for places in forward areas. Paolo Hurtado is also rumoured to be joining the club in the near future which would give the Sounders a wealth of attacking options.
It’s not the first time that Seattle have started the season slowly. In 2017, they won just one of their opening five matches whilst twelve months earlier, they opened with three straight defeats. It’s becoming commonplace for them to be slow out of the starting stalls before clicking into gear with the playoffs on the horizon. It’s a familiar story and the fans go into every campaign expecting very little from team during the opening month.
A point at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in front of a record-breaking crowd, a straightforward 2-0 success over Vancouver Whitecaps and a 3-1 victory over New York City FC are all signs that the Sounders are finally heading in the right direction and the future looks bright for Schmetzer’s men. A play-off place is attainable and another tilt at the Western Conference title is still possible despite their now-traditional sluggish start.