Stop me if you've heard this before.
The Seattle Sounders won another match in the summer, extending their unbeaten streak and rising up the Western Conference table.
Yes, it's that time of the year again. General Manager Garth Lagerwey added a major player to the roster and the team is in the midst of another unbeaten streak during the hot Seattle summer. Sure, the new name is different, but we've seen this movie before.
In 2015, the team lost just once in their final 11 MLS matches. In 2016, only two losses in the last 14. Last year? Two losses in the last 16. When Seattle began this year's streak, a 2-1 win in Colorado in early July, 19 matches remained on the 2018 schedule. After a 3-1 victory over New York City FC on Sunday afternoon, the current unbeaten streak extended to six (4-0-2).
How many losses will we see in the final 13 matches? If history is any indication, not many.
The club added new Designated Player Raul Ruidiaz at the beginning of the MLS Summer Transfer Window and Lagerwey has made it clear the Sounders could add as many as two more players to solidify the team ahead of another playoff run and what could be a third consecutive MLS Cup appearance.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. There are still 13 matches left. Many factors will play into the club making another playoff push, including staying healthy. Midfielder Victor Rodriguez, questionable heading into Sunday's match, stayed out of the lineup and continues to rehab during training sessions at Starfire. No timetable has been given by Brian Schmetzer on a possible return date yet.
On the field, players are stepping up at every position. Watch highlights from Seattle's 3-1 win over New York City below!
With NYC superstar David Villa sidelined with a knee injury and the team only having two days off after a Thursday win in Orlando, the Eastern Conference's second-place team was neither rested nor healthy coming into Seattle. The Sounders faced their own injury and fixture-congestion challenges early in the season, so luck appears to finally be turning in favor of the Rave Green.
Heading into Sunday, NYC held a scoreless streak of 398 minutes, the longest in club-history, and hadn't given a goal in nearly a month. Cristian Roldan broke that streak with a goal in the 36th minute from a deflected cross by Kelvin Leerdam.
Gustav Svensson added his second goal of the season, from long-distance, in the 50th minute, and Harry Shipp scored his second goal of 2018 to extend Seattle's lead to 3-1 in the 86th.
With two shots, two chances created, 69 touches (second most on the team), a team-high 92.3% passing accuracy (among players with at least four touches), and of course the goal, Shipp statistically finished with his best match of 2018, and possibly his best match as a member of the Seattle Sounders.
When Will Bruin subbed on for Ozzie Alonso in the 76th minute, Schmetzer transitioned the formation into a 4-4-2 with Bruin and Ruidiaz at the forward positions. The tactical shift could be a sign of things to come for the Sounders in upcoming matches against Minnesota and Dallas.
Three consecutive wins bring the club to 26 points, only five behind Real Salt Lake for the final playoff spot. What was once a deep hole has become a small hill to climb for the Rave Green to return to the MLS post-season. The Sounders have also played one less match than Minnesota, Vancouver, and Salt Lake, just ahead in the Western Conference standings. Once again, the rest of the league is watching the men from the Emerald City soar in the summer heat.
Seattle now prepares to head to Minnesota for a match next Saturday, August 4, at 5:00 p.m. PT. Listen to the match live on Sports Radio 950 KJR with the Elysian Brewing Pre-Match Show starting at 4:30.
Check out the full Postgame Show after the Sounders' victory over New York City below.