There were times the past decade when Sounders ownership and front-office members would have quietly agreed to trade their streak of consecutive playoff appearances for the CONCACAF Champions League title finally won back in May.

Now, as the grueling summer weeks drag onward with injuries mounting and tempers running short, that unspoken Faustian pact looms for a Sounders team looking at times this month to have hit a proverbial wall so many that went deep into Champions League play before them got leveled by. It won’t be a 2-1 comeback win over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night that ultimately determines anything, though a somewhat controversial tying goal by Jordan Morris in the 43rd minute and go-ahead 71st minute penalty kick conversion by Nicolas Lodeiro allowed the short-handed Sounders to snap a three-game losing streak.

“I think it’s interesting because our organization is so goal-driven and we expect a lot from ourselves and have high expectations, when we lose, the lows are really low,” Sounders veteran Cristian Roldan, moved to a more defensive midfield posting for this one in wake of multiple injuries, was saying in an upbeat dressing room afterward. “But on the contrary, the highs are very high. So, you win one game and you’re back in it. You have to be ‘Steady-Eddie’. You have to take it to the chest when you lose a game and get better from it.”

Roldan said the team’s veteran core has been through adversity before and knows how to handle it.

“We have a huge presence in our locker room and it starts with guys that have been here a really long time,” Roldan said. “Stefan Frei, myself, Nico Lodeiro, Jordan Morris. That’s a core group right there … at the end of the day, we’re all veterans, all leaders and we have to carry it on to the rest of our group.”

The Sounders weren’t exactly helped pregame in their quest to snap a goal-scoring slump that eventually reached 342 minutes and several seconds before Morris finally struck. Right before game time, it was learned that left back Nouhou had been scratched for reasons coach Brian Schmetzer said afterward were “disciplinary in nature” though he’ll rejoin the team for Monday training.

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It also didn’t help that Jonathan Lewis stunned the Lumen Field crowd of 32,476 in just the third minute by racing past flat-footed defender Yeimar, outmaneuvering Frei and depositing the ball into an empty net. But all told, things could have gone far worse for the Rave Green after Kelyn Rowe was issued a red card in the 47th minute to put them down a man the rest of the way in a game still tied at that point.

Alas, that’s when Morris, who had been making strong runs up the field all game long, took over once more. He’d already done so earlier, taking a pass from Jimmy Medranda off a quick free kick and chipping one home to tie things 1-1. 

Rapids players howled furiously that the free kick was done improperly before the ball had been set, but their protests went nowhere after a somewhat lengthy video review.  

Then, with his team reduced to playing only 10 men, Morris would race into the box for another close-in 69th minute chance only to be sent toppling to the turf. Lodeiro, as he has so often, set up for the subsequent penalty kick and buried it top-shelf to the left of diving goalkeeper William Yarbrough to put his team ahead to stay. 

“What we discussed before the game was the pressure,” Schmetzer said. “The pressure of coming off three games where we didn’t play up to our potential. And do we play tight when we get frustrated? And how do we overcome those moments?

“And what I told them was ‘You guys have been in so many pressure-filled games already this year.’ And Jordan is a part of that crew that’s been here since 2016. And we’ve been to finals and we’ve won CONCACAF and we’ve played away in tough stadiums.

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“And so, they weren’t afraid. The game wasn’t too big for them.”

Schmetzer said Morris “raised his game” and “he was the guy that stretched the field for us” when down a man in the second half.

Whether the confidence sparked by the offensive surge and short-handed play carries over to future Sounders matches remains to be seen.

As for the odds of extending their playoff streak to 14 seasons, the Sounders have been down and seemingly out midsummer before only to rally far more improbably for their first MLS Cup title in 2016 and then a stunning playoff berth achieved the final day of the 2018 campaign. Both those teams faced odds seemingly more daunting than the handful of points separating these sub-.500 Sounders from the playoff red line.

But what distinguished both those Rave Green squads in keeping the streak alive was impactful transfer deadline additions both years, first of Lodeiro and then Raul Ruidiaz two years later.

And it’s highly doubtful — though never impossible — that Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey has a player addition of that magnitude up his sleeve this time around before this year’s Aug. 4 deadline. And with Ruidiaz still nursing a hamstring strain, midfielder Obed Vargas out with a back injury and midfielder Joao Paulo done for the season with a torn ACL, it may be largely left to players already here to rally back to more of the team that last month made it to fourth place in the Western Conference standings.

Schmetzer said he hopes the win quiets any “naysayers” feeling his team is already cooked.

“Anybody that thinks we’re happy with CCL and ready to pack it in the rest of year should take a look at the performance of that group of players,” Schmetzer said, adding: “They put everything into that game and it was a well-deserved three points.”

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