Confidence is high about Seattle Sounders FC.
This week’s Seattle Sidelines poll dealt with the Sounders and their quest for a second straight MLS Cup. Seattle, the defending MLS champion, completed the regular season last Sunday as the No. 2 seed from the Western Conference, giving the Sounders a bye through the knockout round of the playoffs.
So the question posed to readers was how far they thought the Sounders would progress through the playoffs. Here’s what you said:
— Nick Patterson (@NickHPatterson) October 23, 2017
Add the two together and a strong majority — 60 percent — believe Seattle is going all the way and will claim the MLS Cup for the second straight year. Of the other answers, 21 percent believe the Sounders will lose in the final, 11 percent think they’ll go out in the conference finals, and eight percent expect a loss in the conference semifinals.
On one hand the confidence is justified. Seattle is heading into the postseason on a roll, going 9-2-5 over its final 16 games and winning its final two by a combined score of 7-0. The Sounders can also draw upon their experience from last year. On the other hand, only three times in the league’s previous 21 years has a team repeated, and for all of the Sounders’ success at getting into the playoffs (every year of their nine-year existence) they have a long history of bowing out in the conference semis (five times).
Now we know who the Sounders face in their home-and-home semifinal tie in the conference semis. The third-seeded Vancouver Whitecaps demolished the sixth-seeded San Jose Earthquakes 5-0 Wednesday in the knockout round, setting up a first-ever playoff meeting between the Cascadia rivals. The first leg is at 5:30 p.m. Sunday at Vancouver’s B.C. Place, with the second leg taking place at 7:30 p.m. next Thursday at CenturyLink Field.
This will be no simple conference semifinal for the Sounders. The Whitecaps finished just two points behind Seattle in the conference standings, and the teams went 1-1-1 against one another during the regular season — Vancouver won 2-1 at home on April 14, the teams tied 1-1 in Vancouver on Aug. 23, and the Sounders prevailed 3-0 at home on Sept. 27.
Vancouver is led by a name long familiar to Sounders fans. Forward Fredy Montero is the all-time leading goal scorer in Seattle’s MLS history. He led the Whitecaps in goals this season with 13, three of which came against the Sounders.
But as far as the responders to this poll are concerned the opponent matters little. They think the Sounders are going all the way.