TUKWILA — First off, check out the dateline. That was a rare sight for a Sounders story, for a while. Tuesday marked just the second time reporters were allowed to watch the club from Starfire Sports in over a year, and coach Brian Schmetzer made sure to acknowledge it.
“It’s nice to have everybody back,” he quipped. “Put us in good moods.”
Second off, be sure to check out the attendance figures Wednesday night when the Sounders take on the Houston Dynamo. It’ll be the first time Lumen Field will be at full capacity in over a year, and Schmetzer made sure to acknowledge it.
“This is an opportunity for us to go at home, and play against a decent Houston squad … and we’ll use the first open crowd, fully everything out there, and it’s an opportunity,” Schmetzer said. “We’re happy to have all of our fans back safely, and — let’s go.”
Third off, check out the Sounders’ unbeaten streak. It’s 12 games long and is composed of seven wins and five draws. If they beat or tie Houston, they would break the record they share with the Galaxy (which won all of its games during its run) and stand alone at 13. Schmetzer … well, Schmetzer barely acknowledged it.
Is that record something you’re messaging to your team? asked a media member.
“We’re not messaging anything like that,” Schmetzer said. “Look, we’ve got records. The Sounders have a lot of records. The one I might be most proud of is that from 2009 to now we’ve got (more) points than any other team. … Those are some of the bigger statistical things I like to keep track of. This game, 13 games unbeaten. I mean it’s a nice little story line. … You can do the math if you have five games and win two and lose three, that’s six points instead of five points with five draws. There’s different ways to slice it.”
OK, maybe it’s not a big deal to Schmetzer. Sounds as though he’d rather have nine wins and three losses right now (27 points) than be unbeaten and have the Sounders’ current 26 points. Most, if not all, coaches would.
The regular season is about setting up your team up a playoff run and earning as many advantages as you can. You get that by maximizing points, not by breaking arbitrary records.
But come on, this is still pretty cool. Seattle began its season April 16 and still has not lost a game. One can quibble about some of the points the Sounders left on their home field with draws against lower-level teams such as Vancouver and Austin, but this is still a chance to achieve something historic.
Besides, they’re still tied for first atop the Western Conference standings despite having played one fewer game than Sporting KC. And like a pitcher preserving a no-hitter, there have been some memorable moments along the way.
The Sounders had to come back from one goal down to beat the Galaxy two weeks ago. A week later they scored in the 71st minute to tie the match with Vancouver. Was it their most impressive outing? No. But as Schmetzer said after the game, “They never quit.”
Again, Seattle wants as many points as possible. That’s what veteran Fredy Montero emphasized Tuesday. Asked about the significance of the unbeaten streak, the all-time Sounders goals leader said he wants to be in the best position possible for the playoffs.
Still, to navigate nearly three months of an MLS season without a loss is impressive, especially given some of the goals this team scored while trailing. The Sounders have basically been a Jenga player you’re sure is going to collapse the tower but manages to continue unscathed.
It all sets up for a potentially historic moment Wednesday, as they shoot for a record in front of what’s sure to be a raucous crowd. So is there anybody on this team who will openly acknowledge the significance here?
“It’s definitely extra motivation for the whole team to keep on winning and keep on staying undefeated,” midfielder Danny Leyva said. “I think that’s really important to us this season. I think to keep it up would be great to tie and maybe break the record. That means a lot to us as a team.”
Hey, there we go. For the past 16 months, we’ve heard a lot about the “new normal.” Now we’re starting to get back to the old normal.
Gotta figure the Sounders and their fans like the old normal. But you gotta figure they’d also like to set a record.