The Sounders return to training this morning, their final session before their knockout match with Colorado at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at CenturyLink. I should be back with some notes around noon. Until then, some playoff and Rapids notes from the club:
Four Seed’s the Charm
Sounders FC will enter the 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs as the fourth seed in the Western Conference, marking the first-ever Knockout Round match in club history. The placement matches Seattle’s lowest finish as the club qualified for the 2010 playoffs as the fourth seed. A No. 4 seed has reached the MLS Cup Final three of the past four seasons, including the winners in 2009 and 2012. Overall, the fourth seed from the Western Conference has reached the MLS Cup Final four times, including the Colorado Rapids (1997), LA Galaxy (2005 and 2012) and New York Red Bulls (2008). Additionally, the two teams that played for the 2010 MLS Cup were both three seeds, though Colorado finished fifth in the West and was moved to the Eastern Conference playoffs bracket.
Since the Knockout Round was introduced in 2011, two teams have advanced to reach the MLS Cup Final while the other two teams lost in the conference semifinals. Last season marked the first time that two Knockout Round teams reached the championship match as the fourth seed in the Western Conference (LA Galaxy) and fifth seed in the Eastern Conference (Houston Dynamo) played for MLS Cup.
With hopes to survive and advance, Sounders FC will draw from its success in other knockout tournaments in the chase for MLS Cup. In the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup – a single-game elimination tournament – Seattle has won 18 of 21 matches while losing just once in regulation (18-1-2 all-time). Sounders FC has also had success in knockout games in the CONCACAF Champions League. Seattle has played in the tournament’s knockout round the past two seasons, falling to Mexico’s Santos Laguna in the 2011 quarterfinals and eliminating Tigres in 2012.
Sounders FC has played in four tournament play-in rounds in club history. In its inaugural campaign, Sounders FC advanced past Real Salt Lake, 4-1, and the Colorado Rapids, 1-0, in the U.S. Open Cup play-in rounds. Seattle has also twice played in the Champions League play-in game, advancing past El Salvador’s Metapan in 2010 and Panama’s San Francisco in 2011.
Fast and Furious: Seattle Faced with Quick Turnaround
Sounders FC faces a quick turnaround with Wednesday’s game coming just 72 hours after Sunday’s final whistle. Seattle has had experience playing games on short rest this season as 13 of the team’s 39 games across all competitions where played on four days or fewer rest. The team has gone 5-6-2 in those games, including back-to-back wins over Kansas City and San Jose in May and Chivas USA and Chicago in September. Seattle has also had three games in one week several times in club history, going 18-10-8 and outscoring opponents 49-43.
Seattle’s CenturyLink Fortress
Sounders FC has been one of the most dominant home teams in MLS this season, and will use its home-field advantage on Wednesday against the Colorado Rapids. Seattle matched its best home record in club history with a record of 10-5-5 (35 points), marking the fifth-highest home point total in MLS in 2013. The Rapids have struggled away from home this season, going 4-8-5 (17 points) with a minus-seven goal differential on the road. Colorado has lost its past three road matches by shutout, including 3-nil at Vancouver last Sunday.
Seattle has hosted five MLS Cup Playoffs matches, going 2-1-2 all-time with two wins and a draw in the past three matches while conceding just one goal. In 2009, Sounders FC held Houston scoreless at home in the first leg and, in 2010, the Galaxy’s Edson Buddle scored a golazo at CenturyLink Field in the opening match. Seattle has twice hosted Real Salt Lake in a playoff match, winning 2-0 in 2011 and drawing 0-0 last season. Sounders FC also beat the LA Galaxy, 2-1, in the second leg of the 2012 Western Conference Championship.
Sounders FC Postseason Leaders
Seattle has played 10 all-time matches in the MLS Cup Playoffs, posting a record of 3-5-2. Sounders FC has outshot its opponents, 130-109, but has been outscored, 6-11. Sounders FC has been held scoreless six times and has kept four clean sheets for a 1.06 goals against average. Overall, 15 current Sounders FC players have appeared in the playoffs for Seattle, including seven players who started the team’s last playoff match. Seattle’s six postseason goals have been scored by six different players. Osvaldo Alonso has played every minute of Seattle’s 10 playoff matches, and he leads all active players with 15 shots. Zach Scott is the only player to record a goal and assist in the postseason, leading the club with three points in the MLS Cup Playoffs. The largest attendance for a Sounders FC playoff match was 44,575 for the 2012 Western Conference Championship against the LA Galaxy.
Six current Sounders FC players have appeared in an MLS Cup Final. Marcus Hahnemann started for the Colorado Rapids in a 2-1 loss to D.C. United in the 1997 championship game. Patrick Ianni won the 2006 and 2007 MLS Cups with the Houston Dynamo. Clint Dempsey was on the New England Revolution team that reached the MLS Cup Final in 2005 and 2006, and Shalrie Joseph reached the final three times with the Revs from 2005-07. Brad Evans won the championship in 2008 with Sigi Schmid’s Columbus Crew side, and Adam Moffat started the past two finals for the Houston Dynamo.
Colorado Playoffs History
The Colorado Rapids have reached the MLS Cup Playoffs for the 12th time in club history. The Rapids’ most memorable achievement was winning the 2010 MLS Cup over FC Dallas, 2-1 at BMO Field. Colorado also reached the championship game in its first-ever postseason appearance in 1997, falling 2-1 to D.C. United at RFK Stadium. In the other nine playoff appearances, the Rapids were eliminated in the quarterfinals six times and lost in the semifinals three times. The last playoff match for Colorado was the second leg of the 2011 Eastern Conference Semifinals on November 2, 2011. Colorado lost the road match against Sporting Kansas City, 2-0, after falling behind 2-nil in the first leg.
Colorado Rapids Series Notes
Sounders FC has been dominant in the series with the Colorado Rapids, going 8-2-2 in the 12 all-time meetings. Seattle’s eight-game (7-0-1) unbeaten streak – including seven straight wins from July 25, 2010 to April 20, 2013 – was recently snapped in a 5-1 loss at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on October 5. Seattle earned a 1-nil away win on April 20 in the first meeting of the season and a 1-1 home draw on July 20. The two sides also met in the 2009 U.S. Open Cup play-in round as Sounders FC advanced, 1-0.
* Sounders FC holds a 20-15 goal advantage, including 12-9 in the second half of games.
* Seattle has scored the bulk of its goal in the middle interval of each half, including five goals from the 16-30 minute mark and seven goals from the 61-75 minute mark.
* Eddie Johnson leads all active players with seven career goals against the Colorado Rapids, including three goals in the Seattle-Colorado series. Overall, seven active Sounders FC players have scored in the series.
* Mauro Rosales leads all active players in the series with five assists, including two in a 2-1 win at CenturyLink Field on July 7 last season.
* Wednesday’s matchup marks the first time the two teams have met in the MLS Cup Playoffs.