The last three years for Seattle Sounders FC have been highlighted by extraordinary second-half runs towards the MLS playoffs with two championship appearances and a league title in 2016. If the last four games are any indication, supporters of the Rave Green may be store for another epic run.
With three wins in their last four matches, over Vancouver, Columbus, and defending MLS Cup Champions Atlanta United on Sunday, and the club not even at full strength yet, Seattle looks prepared for another strong second half.
With perfect weather, constant sunshine with a slight breeze, shining down on CenturyLink Field on Sunday, the Sounders defeated Atlanta 2-1 with goals by Raul Ruidiaz in the 59th minute and Harry Shipp in the 71st. The victory vaults Seattle into second place in the Western Conference with 35 points, only sitting behind Supporters Shield leading LAFC at 46 points.
Prior to Sunday, Seattle and Atlanta met twice, playing to draws in both games: 0-0 in 2017 and 1-1 at Mercedes Benz Stadium in 2018. The 2-1 win marks the first three points for either club in the series, while extending the Sounders' home unbeaten streak to 13 games. The Rave Green are now 11-0-2 since their loss to Philadelphia at CenturyLink on September 29, 2018. The club's home unbeaten streak record is 14, set in 2013.
After a scoreless first half on Sunday, Ruidiaz broke the drought with a highlight-reel goal, assisted by Cristian Roldan. Both players returned from International Duty earlier in the week with Ruidiaz playing in the COPA America Final and Roldan in the Gold Cup Final for the United States. Jordan Morris also returned from duty with the U.S., recording an assist on Shipp's goal.
2018 MLS MVP Josef Martinez scored his 13th goal of the season for Atlanta on an assist by 2018 South American Player of the Year, Pity Martinez. Working with a new head coach since the departure of Tata Martino, now with the Mexican National Team, and many injuries, Atlanta is still waiting to kick into gear and return to their championship form of last year.
For Seattle, the team now prepares for two matches in the next seven days including a Wednesday evening friendly against Borussia Dortmund and a derby at home against the Portland Timbers on Sunday at 6:30pm.
According to Head Coach Brian Schmetzer, midfielder Victor Rodriguez, who sat out Sunday's match with a strained hamstring, will not appear in the friendly against Dortmund. The team will also see the return of Joevin Jones this week, who did not appear in Seattle's last two matches due to the birth of his child. Shipp filled in on the left wing against Atlanta, scoring his third goal of the season.
Next Sunday's MLS match against Portland could see Seattle at their healthiest in nearly three months, with Jones and the potential of Rodriguez, returning. The Timbers, meanwhile, come to town with forward Brian Fernandez and his team-leading six goals plus Diego Valeri and his ten assists.
After falling to Portland in the 2018 Western Conference Semifinals in penalty kicks, and losing to the Timbers in the fourth round of the 2019 U.S. Open Cup at Cheney Stadium last month, revenge could play a major role for the Sounders in the home derby. Tune in for the Pre-Match Show next Sunday, starting at 6:00 p.m. on Sports Radio 950 KJR. Hear more of a preview for that match, next Wednesday's friendly against Borussia Dortmund, and a continued recap of the win over Atlanta, all in KJR's Sounders Postgame Show, linked below!