Is there such thing as a statement tie?
The Sounders FC unceremoniously drew with the Los Angeles Galaxy last night, their second straight 4th of July at the Home Depot Center.
It wasn’t without storylines, such as Landon Donovan’s first MLS match since the Gold Cup, David Beckham starting on the bench, LA’s third string keeper, and the Sounders horrendous Penalty Kick luck continuing.
We can all sit here and lament the fact that if Fredy Montero was a little more inconspicuous in where he was going with his penalty maybe we’d be talking about Seattle as legitimate Supporters Shield contenders at the moment.
Then again we can all sit here and remember how the Sounders got smashed by the Galaxy in four matches last season by a combined 10-2 goal differential, including a playoff series that sent the Sounders home without a peep.
Last year I wrote about the significance of Seattle’s second leg match of the playoffs last year against the Galaxy. Branding wise, fan support wise, even notoriety among international footie fans, the Seattle Sounders FC have the making of what could be a mainstay MLS force, dynasty almost, that could have the potential to compete internationally even.
Right now, however, that torch belongs to the club that Seattle scrapped against for a draw last night. The Galaxy are the only MLS team to win the CONCACAF Champions League. They have the MLS Cup, US Open Cup, Supporters Shield. They brought David Beckham to MLS and have kept Landon Donovan, the United States’ best player, stateside.
The Sounders have taken the MLS by storm recording league records in attendance per game, combined attendance in a season as well as attendance per match average. In each of their three seasons in Major League Soccer.
They have won the US Open Cup twice. Admirable, but modest achievement at best considering that most MLS clubs treat that tournament live a reserve league.
Last year the Sounders whimpered out of the CONCACAF Champions league, their only group stage victory their final of six matches, which hardly mattered.
But it’s not too late for the Sounders. In fact, this might be the best chance the Sounders ever had to make a statement in Major League Soccer. Even to the world. The MLS is one more expansion franchise after Montreal away from filling their 20 team quota, or even beyond. Portland and Vancouver have showed impressive fan support, but the product on the pitch leaves much to be desired.
The Sounders are fourth in the MLS table in points per match, already secured a place in the US Open Cup quarterfinals and are ready to gear up for Champions League action later this month.
But their most significant achievement thus far could have been just drawing the Galaxy. In sports there is always the monkey on the back, the hump that a team must get over in order to achieve greatness. The Peyton Manning finally defeating Tom Brady moment that leads to the breakthrough.
It sounds crazy, even sad, to glorify the Sounders coming up with only a draw in Los Angeles. It speaks to just how far the Sounders still have to go to overcome the soccer machine the Galaxy have created. And, despite losing the season series 4 points to 1, it could be argued the Sounders played easily well enough to draw or even come away with a slim victory back in Seattle in March. Juan Pablo Angel hit a glorious strike that was impossible to defend, and Los Angeles came away with a freak win.
Still, if the Sounders are ever going to take that extra step to perhaps being the destination soccer franchise in the United States, the global brand from the MLS, and actually be a superior force on the pitch, that step cannot be taken without ousting the Los Angeles Galaxy. The Yankees of our sport has been a pest to the Sounders from day one, and let’s be real here, it gives me confidence that we can play well enough for a victory on the road when the Galaxy are in the lead for the Supporters Shield at the moment.
The Sounders stood firm in the playoff position and one could even argue that this kept their hot streak and confidence alive heading into an important Cascadia Cup match going into Portland.
It’s hard for me to say that the Sounders took a step forward in legacy thanks to actually not losing to the Galaxy, but I can at least say that growth was not stunted. Hopefully we can adjust that sentences optimistically come November.