The MLS regular season is complete and Seattle Sounders FC is looking for a repeat.
The Sounders concluded their season Sunday with a 3-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids at CenturyLink Field. Seattle finished the season 14-9-11 and in second place in the Western Conference, behind only the rival Portland Timbers, and the Sounders kept their streak of making the playoffs in all nine years of the franchise’s existence intact.
Finishing second means the defending MLS Cup-champion Sounders receive a bye past the knockout round of the playoffs. Seattle will face the highest-remaining seed among the third-through-sixth seeds — Vancouver Whitecaps, Houston Dynamo, Sporting Kansas City and San Jose Earthquakes — in the two-legged conference semifinals, with the first leg taking place on the road on Oct. 29 or 31 and the second leg on Nov. 2 at home at CenturyLink Field.
For the second straight year the Sounders head into the playoffs on a roll. Seattle has lost just twice since the beginning of July, going 9-2-5 over its final 16 games. That includes back-to-back dominating victories over FC Dallas (4-0) and Colorado to close out the season.
Seattle allowed just 39 goals in its 34 matches this season, the third-best goals-against tally in the league. Goalkeeper Stefan Frei finished the season with 13 shutouts, which led the league and is a franchise single-season record. The Sounders’ offense was led by the trio of forward Clint Dempsey (12 goals, five assists), midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro (seven goals, 12 assists) and forward Will Bruin (11 goals, two assists).
The Sounders do have some injury issues heading into the playoffs as three regular starters — midfielder Osvaldo Alonso (quadriceps), midfielder/defender Gustav Svensson (hamstring) and forward Jordan Morris (hamstring) — sat out Sunday’s game. All three are considered day-to-day heading into the playoffs. Seattle will also be without Dempsey for the first leg of the conference semifinals after he was shown a red card against the Rapids. But the all-important central-defensive pairing of Chad Marshall and Roman Torres is healthy and ready to go.
Can the Sounders become just the fourth repeat champion in MLS history, joining 1996-96 D.C. United, the 2006-07 Houston Dynamo and 2011-12 Los Angeles Galaxy? Or will Seattle trip up at some stage of the playoffs? Make your prediction here: