Surely Seattle has won the MLS Cup before, right? They’ve been in the league for nine seasons now this year, dominate the MLS attendance charts (over 40,000 per match), and have had big time players (i.e. Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins).
But no, this power of the northwest is still without a Cup. In fact, Seattle hasn’t even made it to the final. 13 different clubs have been to the final. Chicago has been there three times! Colorado has been there twice already. Both of those clubs already have a MLS Cup trophy at their stadium.
For a club of such high aspirations and rabid fans (see below) this is a black mark of the honors list. Make no mistake, every single year is considered a failure until they claim their first MLS Cup.
2016 started with the signing of the next great American goal scorer – Jordan Morris. Then Obafemi Martins left. The team lost much of the opening half of the season. Sigi Schmid, the only manager to lead them in the MLS, was fired. Then it was revealed Clint Dempsey had a heart condition ruling him out for the rest of the season. To sum up the feeling around Seattle…
Out of nowhere, the team exploded. An impressive run in the second half of the season saw Seattle clinch a spot in the playoffs and even a home match in the knockout round. Hey, where are Cascadia rivals Portland and Vancouver? Home. Even with the injuries they have suffered this year and makeshift lineups, Seattle may still capture that elusive title this year. Even if they do, it is clean house and rebuild time.
Dempsey may not be able to return. Brad Evans and Chad Marshall could easily retire, or at minimum need to be replaced by younger players. Hercules Gomez, Tyron Mears and Andreas Ivanschitz are all 33 or older. And yes, it was wonderful to see Nelson Valdez rewarded with the winning goal after a year of suffering and under-performing in Seattle. But unless that was his wake up moment, he could be paid to leave.
These guys need to help Seattle win their first title, and can. But several will be asked to leave before 2017 kicks off. Jordan Morris, Christian Roldan, Nicolás Lodeiro, Oalex Anderson and Aaron Kovar already make up the next generation. For the health of the club, 2017 needs to kick-start Seattle Sounders 3.0 with the addition of young talent in defense.
For those of you keeping score at home, Sounders 2.0 was the introduction of Dempsey to MLS and Seattle.