Decision Day is just around the corner and there’s really no better way to settle the regular season and see who makes the jump into the MLS Playoffs. Storylines scatter both the Eastern and Western conference, but the only thing on the minds of the Seattle Sounders and their fans is a first-round bye.
It wasn’t long ago that hopes for a 10th straight playoff appearance for the Sounders seemed dire, but they’ve truly been a marvel during this iconic run. Since July 1st, the Sounders are 14-2-2 earning 44 points, four more than any other team in the MLS. During that same stretch, Seattle’s Decision Day opponent San Jose have underachieved with a record of 2-11-3.
Sitting in last place, San Jose only plays as Decision Day spoilers and to work towards Chris Wondolowski tying (or breaking) Landon Donavon’s career record for MLS goals. Currently, Wondo sits at 144 with Landon’s record one goal away at 145. This may be tough to do on the road versus an opponent that has allowed the 2nd fewest goals (36) in the MLS.
Nevertheless, the talking point of the day for the Sounders is where they will finish in the Western Conference standings. With seeds two through four on the table, numerous scenarios are all possible. The Sounders can finish as the number two seed earning a knockout bye in two ways: a win on Sunday paired with an FC Dallas loss or draw at Colorado, or, the Sounders draw with San Jose and both LAFC and FC Dallas lose.
The Sounders can earn the number three seed and a knockout round home match versus RSL/LA Galaxy if the Sounders win and FC Dallas wins. They can also earn the third place seed in two other ways which include: a Sounders draw coupled with a LAFC Win or Draw and FC Dallas loss, or vice versa.
The Sounders will earn the number four seed and host bitter rival Timbers should the Sounders draw and both LAFC and FC Dallas win or draw, or the Sounders lose and Timbers draw or lose.
The Sounders will finish fifth and play a knockout round away match against the Timbers if the Sounders lose and the Timbers win.
With all of that in mind, the Emerald City Supporters should be encouraged by the numbers run by FiveThirtyEight. Their projections have the Sounders with a 44% chance of earning a knockout round bye and a 69% chance of winning on Sunday.
The all-time series between Seattle and San Jose with games in Seattle stands at 7-5-1 in Seattle’s favor. The one previous meeting this season resulted in a 1-0 win for the Sounders on Raul Ruidiaz’s first MLS goal. In games where Ruidiaz scores, the Sounders are 6-0-0.
Another story-line fans should keep their eyes on, Stefan Frei sits four saves away from career save 500. A contender for MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, Frei is a big reason for Seattle’s impressive goals against and goal differential, both top-five in MLS.
I like the Sounders to win 2-0 with goals from Ruidiaz and Nicolas Lodeiro. The Rapids play spoiler and hold FC Dallas to a 1-1 draw, allowing the Sounders to achieve the coveted first-round bye.
A note for those attending: the club is encouraging fans to arrive early and take advantage of the Fan Appreciation Day activities occurring all throughout match day.
Until next time, Soosh out.