Follow sports long enough, and you’re bound to see history repeat itself. And more than a few former Sounders see themselves in the remarkable, ongoing revival that has swept Seattle into the MLS Cup.

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Follow sports long enough, and you’re bound to see history repeat itself. And more than a few former Sounders see themselves in the remarkable, ongoing revival that has swept Seattle into the MLS Cup.

While watching the Sounders’ second-half resurrection, former players David Gillett and Jeff Stock, as well as their coaches, see strikingly similar circumstances unfolding. It’s what Yogi Berra might describe as experiencing déjà vu all over again.

An excruciatingly slow start, injuries and a coach under fire: It’s a familiar recipe. Mix in a late-season acquisition, and suddenly things are cooking. What once was an underachieving team has become unbeatable, upsetting higher seeds en route to the league final. Only, it’s 1977. Or 1982.

“We outplayed ‘em, we out-pressured ‘em … and came out on the losing end,” said the Sounders’ coach. “For the moment, I’m completely lost.”

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That could’ve been the words of a frustrated Sigi Schmid this past June or July. In fact, it was Jimmy Gabriel in May 1977.

Seattle had slumped to 2-6 after three consecutive one-goal losses in Gabriel’s first season. A Gillett header had caromed off the crossbar in the waning minutes of the latest loss. It was a hard-luck story, much like the one Alan Hinton tells of 1982.

“We started off 2-7, and I remember being in Chicago, walking the streets at 5’clock in the morning, asking myself, ‘Are the practices wrong? Am I picking the wrong team?’ And finally, ‘Are they still playing for me?’

“It was very, very frustrating, the worst run of my career,” said Hinton, now a Sounders ambassador. “But they were still playing for me. They practiced hard, they were happy. We just weren’t winning games.”

Compounding matters were injuries to key players. Hinton lost a center back to an appendectomy, Gabriel his target man to a broken leg.

“Every loss was by a goal, so we weren’t getting killed,” confirmed Stock, a 21-year-old defender in 1982. “But everyone wrote us off. It was written in the papers that Alan was going to get fired.”

Unlike Schmid, Gabriel and Hinton survived those dark days. In each case the lineup was tweaked, then a mid-season acquisition introduced, much like Nicolas Lodeiro’s addition this year.

Gabriel traded for journeyman forward Tommy Ord. All Ord did was score a hat trick in his second Seattle outing and, including playoffs, nine goals in 10 games. Hinton imported Kenny Hibbitt, the quintessential complementary midfielder from Wolverhampton. With Hibbitt alongside Alan Hudson, the Sounders settled into a rhythm for the stretch run, winning 13 of the last 17 and clinching the division.

In 1977 and ‘82, Seattle earned a berth in the NASL final known as Soccer Bowl. In both instances the Sounders lost to the star-studded Cosmos by an odd goal despite taking the game to the New Yorkers.

There’s unanimous agreement among these alums that Lodeiro already rates among the all-time greats to pull on a Seattle shirt. The Uruguayan has set up goals and scored some sweet ones. Moreover, he has a gift for making everyone around him a more effective player. Clearly his arrival – like the arrivals of Ord and Hibbitt – is tied to the turnaround.

Still, no player or coach can single-handedly, or in tandem, produce such a reversal of fortune. That, asserts Stock, can be accomplished only through, for lack of a better term, togetherness.

“Look, if they bring in Lodeiro and there’s no team chemistry, it still wouldn’t have worked,” he said. “The key is we never got down on ourselves. You’ve got to think positive, and when you get on a roll you start proving people wrong. That’s where this Sounders team is at now.”

It’s easy to argue the advent of coach Brian Schmetzer’s appointment or Lodeiro’s entrance as the pivot on which everything swiveled. More mysterious and less quantifiable are the inner workings of a team.

“Team chemistry has more to do with it than what people say,” Stock said. “A coach might bring it out, or Lodeiro could’ve brought it out, but it was always there. There’s a spark that lit the fire, and now they’re off and going.”

Gillett agreed.

“All the guys on our (’77) team liked each other and really wanted to play hard for each other,” Gillett said. “That was the key.”

Does it surprise Gillett that the Sounders’ surge persists despite the loss of Clint Dempsey? Not at all.

“It’s like what happens when a team plays with 10 men,” Gillett said. “If you’ve got a real team, everybody kicks in and gives a little bit more. Together you overcome the obstacle.”

Gillett detects the players want Schmetzer to succeed, much as he and the ’77 Sounders displayed a passion for Gabriel, “a guy you did not want to let down,” he noted. “You really wanted to play well for him.”

Gabriel, once Schmetzer’s coach and later a coaching mentor, is proud the Lake City native has made good.

“He’s a class coach,” Gabriel said. “He has a very good brain in knowing how to relate with his players.”

Hinton, who also coached Schmetzer, believes he brings a fresh approach, infusing greater confidence in the team’s abilities.

“We had fun and games in our locker rooms. Brian’s done the same thing. The players are dancing in the locker room, and now the fans are dancing in the streets.”