Seattle Sounders clinch playoffs for 12th straight year with win over Vancouver

Seattle Sounders clinch playoffs MLS
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Portland, Oregon — If 2020 couldn’t get any more weird, think again. Last night, the Seattle Sounders FC clinched a spot in the MLS Cup playoffs for the 12th straight year. This isn’t the weird part. Instead, that shouldn’t come at any surprise to fans of MLS. The Sounders have successfully punched their ticket to the playoffs every single year of the club’s existence in the league.

The weird part? It was done in Portland, against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

With COVID-19 protocols and political differences on how to handle the virus between the United States and Canada, some Canadian teams have been hosting their home games in the United States. For Toronto FC, they use Hartford, Connecticut. As for the Whitecaps, they call Providence Park — home of the Portland Timbers — their faux home.

Seattle is used to playing at Providence Park. The Cascadia rivalry between Portland Seattle is one of the best — if not the greatest — MLS rivalry.

However, last night was different, featuring in the home of their most hated enemy, but playing a different team.

Seattle was coming off slow performances as they entered Tuesday night’s match. Still toward the top of Western Conference, Seattle slipped up, settling for two draws against San Jose and Portland.

This time, with internationals Raúl Ruidíaz, Xavier Arreaga and Gustav Svensson back, the Sounders didn’t let up. They did settle for a scoreless first half over a Vancouver team that bunkered down on defense. However, in the second half, Ruidíaz — who was cleared to play after testing positive for COVID-19 while in Peru — smashed the first goal behind Evan Bush in the 54th minute.

It didn’t take long for Seattle to double the lead, with Nicolas Lodeiro doing the honors in the 60th minute. Ruidíaz assisted the goal for his fellow CONMEBOL international.

Seattle Sounders sit on top of the West

Vancouver had a few chances to push, but for the most part Stefan Frei was left unbothered. The Sounders goalkeeper wasn’t forced to make a single save, as Vancouver registered four shots, but none on goal.

Meanwhile, the Sounders — who currently sit on top of the Western Conference — kept pushing for a third. Lodeiro and Ruidíaz each had another shot on frame, but Bush made the saves when called upon. Defender Kelvin Leerdam, midfielder Cristian Roldan and João Paulo also had attempts, but none on goal.

After the match, Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said that clinching the club’s 12th-straight playoff appearance is a big moment.

“This club has always been a winning club,” Schmetzer said. “It’s something that is within the DNA, the culture of the club. I reminded the players before the game about the great players that we’ve had at this club and what it takes to make it to the playoffs… The reason why we’ve been in the playoffs for 12 straight years — obviously Sigi [Schmid] laid a great foundation, but the reason we made it 12 years in a row — is that the players are always committed to themselves, their teammates and the fans. It’s that type of culture that can drive, that can be successful, that can win championships.”

Schmetzer continued, saying he’s “awfully” proud of this current Sounders team and the club in general.

“If the players come collectively and believe in themselves, that’s the strongest version of a team,” Schmetzer explained. “That’s what we have with the Sounders. That’s what we have with this particular group. I noticed it back in Orlando with the bubble. Even when things are tough, this group sticks together.”

What’s next for Seattle?

For the Seattle Sounders, a small break will be given before heading to Colorado. The Sounders will be making up a postponed match against the Colorado Rapids on Sunday night, starting at 9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PT. Then, Seattle will prepare for a quick turnaround match against the LA Galaxy on Nov. 4, in Los Angeles.

As for the Whitecaps, Marc dos Santos’ group will look to rebound against the Portland Timbers on Sunday at Providence Park.