With a 2-1 victory over FC Dallas on Sunday evening, the Seattle Sounders are unbeaten in their last eight matches and tied a club record with five consecutive wins.
Now just three points from the red line, with a game in hand over sixth place Real Salt Lake (35 points) and seventh place Vancouver (33), Seattle (32) is once again moving up the Western Conference standings and nearing a tenth consecutive playoff berth, never having missed the post-season in club history.
11 matches remain on the schedule for Seattle, six of which are at home, including the fourth place Los Angeles Galaxy (36 points) coming to town next Saturday (1:00pm kickoff on Sports Radio 950 KJR).
In 2015, Seattle lost just one match in their final 11 contests. In 2016, just two losses in the last 14. Last year, two in the final 16. Second-half streaks have become commonplace for the Sounders, and 2018 seems no different with the summer transfer window additions of Peruvian forward Raul Ruidiaz and new Australian left back Brad Smith now in the mix.
Smith, on a one-year loan from AFC Bournemouth in the English Premier League, made his Rave Green debut on Sunday, playing 73 minutes at left back before being subbed off for Waylon Francis due to a non-serious injury.
The newest Sounder found himself part of multiple attacks, overlapping Harry Shipp and other midfielders on the left side of the field then sending in crosses throughout the 73 minutes. Smith impressed Head Coach Brian Schmetzer, who said after the match, “It was pretty good. You guys saw what [General Manager] Garth [Lagerwey], [Sporting Director] Chris [Henderson], and those guys saw. He’s got good speed, good crossing ability...So, we were overall very pleased."
With an assist on Chad Marshall's goal and game-winner in the 63rd minute, midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro took home Man of the Match honors. The Argentine's free kick from around 30 yards out mid-way through the second half, somehow, did not touch a single player before and after bouncing once and connecting with the back of the net.
If Seattle is to make a third consecutive MLS Cup appearance, Lodeiro will be key to maintaining and extending the annual second-half streak, or creating another streak if the current eight-match run comes to an end against Los Angeles or in Portland the following weekend.
Just seven points from second place Sporting Kansas City, anything is possible for the Seattle Sounders as they make their way into the final third of the 2018 MLS regular season.
Watch highlights from the 2-1 victory below as well as Schmetzer and Smith speaking after the match, then hear from Jackson Felts, Pete Fewing, and Wade Webber on the Sounders FC Postgame Show on Sports Radio 950 KJR.