2019 started with a Jordan Morris brace in a Sounders FC home victory and ended with the MLS Cup being raised by the Rave Green at CenturyLink Field.
We're not saying history is going to repeat itself, but so far, history is repeating itself.
With two second-half goals by Morris, including a game-winner in the 93rd minute, Seattle took all three points in their first match of the 2020 MLS regular season with a 2-1 win over Chicago Fire FC.
Seconds before kickoff, the club unveiled a new championship banner in the rafters of CenturyLink, reading "2019 MLS Cup Champs," and celebrated last November's victory over Toronto FC in front of nearly 70 thousand people with video tributes and a "Champions Lounge" just north of the stadium for fans to relive all the action.
"I got chills at the start, watching the banner unveiling and all that. It’s a testament to last year. Something we will always remember. It was really important," Morris said.
Then came the whistle to kick off the new MLS season, and with it, a new opportunity to make history.
Head Coach Brian Schmetzer, dealing with some fixture congestion after Thursday's CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) loss to CD Olimpia and injuries to starters Nicolas Lodeiro and Gustav Svensson, started Miguel Ibarra and Danny Leyva in the midfield. After resolving Visa issues, new centerback Yeimar Gomez Andrade appeared on Seattle's bench but did not play. Morris only entered the match at the start of the second half.
But despite all the roster changes and obstacles, Schmetzer's team fought out the victory. Good news is coming as well, as the Head Coach noted Svensson and Lodeiro will be in most or all of full training on Tuesday. Gomez Andrade should start for the Sounders at centerback next weekend in place of Shane O'Neill, Sunday's starter against Chicago.
It is certainly possible that by as early as next week, Seattle is fully healthy and rolling out a first-choice lineup that could arguably be even better than that 2019 Championship team.
New Sounders midfielder Joao Paulo, a 27-year-old Brazilian who came to Seattle from Botofogo in Rio De Janeiro earlier this year, recorded two goals and two assists in two CCL matches prior to Sunday, and followed up with another assist against Chicago, a corner kick that Morris eventually headed into the back of the net in the 93rd minute.
“I’ve been pleased with all of his performances so far. He’s shown that he is a thinker, he’s a guy that solves problems on the field, that’s what I like. We saw a little aggression out of him today, he was getting a little pissed, so I like that as well,” Schmetzer said.
Cristian Roldan also headed the game winner, connecting Joao Paulo's cross to Morris' head. And while the veteran midfielder expressed his disappointment in the team's slow start, failing to score before the 62nd minute and going down 1-0 to the Fire, his two assist performance Sunday and goal on Thursday against CD Olimpia highlight a strong start to the year for the team's new full-time right winger.
"It was obviously good to get the win but I thought we started slow and that’s not acceptable," Roldan said. "At home, I think we can take care of business before the 90th minute."
Seattle will have the chance to right the mistakes of Sunday's opener next Saturday when the Columbus Crew come to town to face the Sounders, a 7:00 p.m. kickoff at CenturyLink. Whether Schmetzer sees the return of Svensson and Lodeiro, his squad will certainly be more rested, not having to play on Thursday night again.
950 KJR's Pre-Match Show will begin at 6:30pm next Saturday, but until then, you can listen to Sounders Weekly with Jackson Felts on Tuesday evening at 7:00 p.m. on KJR and below, check out Sunday's McDonald's Post-Match Show where Felts, Danny Jackson, Wade Webber, and Pete Fewing broke down the 2-1 win over Chicago, which you can also watch highlights of below!