When the Sounders' backs are up against the wall, the club plays their best soccer.
We've seen it time and time again since the 2016 MLS Cup championship run, as the Rave Green reached three of the last four finals, winning their second in 2019. And just as they won throughout last year's playoffs, Seattle won again when they had to on Sunday, defeating the Vancouver Whitecaps 3-0 in the final match of their MLS is Back Tournament group stage.
Goals by Nicolas Lodeiro, a penalty in the 16th minute, Jordan Morris, on a breakaway in the 34th, and Raul Ruidiaz, off a passed-on corner kick in the 51st minute, anchored Seattle's shutout win that clinches a knockout round berth.
Seattle will now await the match between the Chicago Fire and Vancouver Whitecaps on Thursday morning to determine who ends up as the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds in Group B. With a Chicago win, the Sounders will either face Toronto, New England, Real Salt Lake, Minnesota or Sporting Kansas City. With a Whitecaps win, the Rave Green will take on LAFC or the rival Portland Timbers. That next match will either be on Sunday, July 26 or Monday, July 27.
And when Seattle gets back on the field, you can be sure they'll be carrying far more confidence than the club had prior to Sunday's group stage finale.
After a lackluster 0-0 draw to open the tournament against San Jose, a match marked by the intense Orlando conditions, humidity and lack of fitness on both sides, followed by a disappointing 2-1 loss to Chicago on Tuesday morning that saw on-field "real-feel" temperatures North of one-hundred degrees, the Sounders needed a win Sunday to stay in Florida.
But after a dominant victory over a Cascadia rival in which the team's three offensive stars all scored, the club's atmosphere in the Disney World bubble should be far more positive as the next tournament stage approaches.
Head Coach Brian Schmetzer will now look to get back the services of Will Bruin (knee injury), Joao Paulo (quad strain), Joevin Jones (adductor strain) and Yeimar Gomez Andrade (hamstring strain), who were all out for Sunday's contest. Additionally, centerback Xavier Arreaga saw a Whitecaps shot hit the side of his head during the second half and stands as an fifth injury to be concerned about in the days ahead.
Good news for Seattle, though, is that they're still playing in a tournament they both want to be there for and want to win, according to Schmetzer. Now comes the waiting game to find out the date and opponent for their next match.
Check out highlights from the Sounders' 3-0 win over the Whitecaps on Sunday below as well as Sports Radio 950 KJR's Postgame Show with Kasey Keller, Pete Fewing and Jackson Felts, plus Schmetzer's full post-game press conference and interviews with Morris and Lodeiro.