Optimism abounds around Seattle Sounders FC as it prepares to begin the MLS playoffs.
This week’s Seattle Sidelines poll asked readers to assess the Sounders’ prospects in this year’s playoffs. Seattle heads into the postseason on a historic streak, finishing the regular season by going 15-2-2 in its final 19 games, a stretch that included a league-record nine-game winning streak. This was a dramatic turnaround from the team’s start, as the Sounders were 3-9-3 over their first 15 contests.
This is the same pattern Seattle had the previous two seasons as the Sounders stumbled out of the gate, but roared down the stretch. Both times it resulted in Seattle reaching the MLS Cup final, winning it in 2016 and losing it last year.
Therefore, this week we asked readers how they thought the Sounders would do in this year’s playoffs. This is how you voted:
POLL: How far will the Sounders go in this year’s MLS playoffs? Full context, including a breakdown of the team’s dramatic mid-season turnaround, here: https://t.co/6nezCktvuf
— Nick Patterson (@NickHPatterson) October 29, 2018
Add it all up and more than half the voters — 59 percent — predicted the Sounders will win their second MLS Cup. Reaching the Western Conference finals and reaching the MLS Cup final both received 17 percent of the vote, though the former received one more vote. Just 7 percent of the responders believe Seattle is going out in the conference semifinals.
This is some remarkable confidence. Compare these numbers to the odds given each MLS team by Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.com website. FiveThirtyEight gives the Sounders just a 10-percent chance of winning MLS Cup, which places Seattle behind Atlanta United (23 percent), the New York Red Bulls (23 percent) and Sporting Kansas City (18 percent). The site gives the Sounders a 23 percent chance of reaching the final and a 52-percent chance of reaching the conference finals. So the statistical analysts are far less bullish on Seattle than the poll voters.
We’re still waiting to find out who the Sounders will face in the conference semifinals. The No. 5 Portland Timbers defeated No. 4 FC Dallas 2-1 in the knockout round Wednesday night, while No. 3 LAFC and No. 6 Real Salt Lake face one another Thursday night. Seattle faces the highest remaining seed in the two-legged conference semifinals, meaning it will be either LAFC or Portland (top-seeded Sporting plays the lowest-remaining seed). Those games are schedule for Sunday away and next Thursday at CenturyLink Field.
But as far as the voters in this poll are concerned, it doesn’t matter who Seattle faces in the next round. The Sounders are going all the way, regardless of who stands in their way.