After an arduous election year with shocking results, Washingtonians were in desperate need of a feel-good story to close out 2016.
Cue the underdog Sounders’ barnstorming through the MLS Cup playoffs.
The unexpected loss of the team’s two top scorers and mid-season firing of head coach Sigi Schmid set the stage for a storybook turn-around that came thanks in part to the coming-of-age of two local sons; rookie forward Jordan Morris (Mercer Island) and long-time assistant turned head coach Brian Schmetzer (Lake City).
If just one Sounders victory had gone the other way, the team would have failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in their MLS history.
Instead, they never let their epic comeback slow down, knocking off (among others) top-seeded FC Dallas and Eastern Conference Champion Toronto FC, stacked with big-name attackers, to bring home the club’s first MLS Cup.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray was the first guest speaker to address the crowd, asking for a round of applause for the Seattle Police Department and the officer who was injured on duty in the earlier parade. He was joined on stage by King County Executive Dow Constantine and retiring Congressman Jim McDermott, both Sounders season ticket holders. As a fan since the club’s earliest iteration in the North American Soccer League, McDermott showed off his knowledge of Sounders history and claimed to have predicted the path to the MLS Cup after seeing his beloved Chicago Cubs claim their first MLB World Series title in 108 years.
By winning the league, Sounders also earned a birth in the CONCACAF Champions League where they will represent the Northwest as stewards of diplomacy in the international competition throughout North and Central America and the Caribbean.
Congratulations, Sounders, and thanks for giving us something to smile about!