The Sounders need to make up three goals Wednesday against Real Salt Lake if they are going to have any hope of surviving in the MLS playoffs. Here are some notes from the club on comebacks and survival games:
Playoff Comeback Lore
Since MLS instituted the aggregate goal conference semifinal series in 2003, the team losing the first leg has rallied to win the series 10 times. Three of those clubs went on to lift MLS Cup. Four of those survivors trailed by at least two goals at one point. However the mother of all comebacks to date was pulled off by the San Jose Earthquakes in 2003.
The Quakes were beaten, 2-nil, by the L.A. Galaxy in the first leg, and then they fell behind 2-0 (4-0 on aggregate) after the first 13 minutes of the second leg at home. San Jose (with then-rookie Roger Levesque among those in uniform) began chipping away at the deficit, finally tying the score in 90th minute before winning in extra time, 5-4. The Quakes proceeded to win the conference final and championship game.
Overcoming Adversity is Nothing New
For sure, nothing has come easily for Sounders FC this season, and if overcoming adversity is the mark of a championship team then they have done so in spades. Including matches in the CONCACAF Champions League they have come from a goal down 12 times to win or draw. They trailed their aggregate series with Panama’s San Francisco FC before coming from behind to prevail, 2-1, in extra time. And this finest of three remarkable MLS seasons has been accomplished while two of the club’s most prominent players-Steve Zakuani and O’Brian White-were out for the final seven months of the campaign.
The Rave Green must score at least three goals on Wednesday. They scored three or more goals in eight MLS matches and 10 times altogether. Four of those games of three or more goals came in the final eight outings. Seattle scored 56 times in league play and 76 goals in all competitions. Real Salt Lake allowed three or more goals on four occasions during the season with three occurring in the final six matches.
The Art of Survival
Wednesday will mark the first time Seattle has faced elimination from the MLS Cup Playoffs at home. In both 2009 and 2010 Sounders FC was the low seed and as a result played the deciding game away. In the inaugural season Seattle and Houston went scoreless in the first leg before the Dynamo went through to the next round on the strength of an extra-time goal at home. Last year the Galaxy left the Emerald City as 1-nil winners and added a 2-1 home win.
The only other aggregate goal series occurred during the preliminary rounds of the CONCACAF Champions League in 2010 and 2011. A year ago Sounders FC defeated Metapan, 1-0, at home and 2-1 on aggregate. In August the Rave Green lost, 1-0, at Panama’s San Francisco FC but won the second leg at home, 2-1 after extra time.