MLS Soccer released the full 2018 regular season last week. The Seattle Sounders are looking to make a third consecutive MLS Cup experience. The Rave Green would join D.C. United ( 1996, 1997, and 1998 ) and the New England Revolution as the only teams to participate in three consecutive MLS Title Games. The Revolution lost all three of their title game appearances while United hoisted the Cup in its first two appearances.
5 takeaways from the Sounders’ 2018 schedule
It’s back to normal this season. And by back to normal, we mean the Sounders will begin their league season a home. Last season represented the first time since joining MLS in 2009 Seattle started the season away from home. This was due to renovations being completed at the Clink.
Interestingly, the Sounders’ home opener on March 4th will also double as the first match for the league’s newest franchise, Los Angeles Football Club. The two teams will finish the two-game home and away series on April 29th at LA. Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer will ensure his players are ready for the home opener. The Sounders and Toronto FC were the only two teams to lose just one league home all season last year
2) REVENGE ON THEIR MINDS
You can make an argument that the first team Sounders fans looked for on the schedule, was Toronto FC. Certainly, there is a rivalry growing between the two clubs, after playing each other in the last two MLS Cup finals.
While no one knows if these two teams will meet again for a third consecutive time in the title game, the two teams should be battling for their perspective Conference titles. This year’s regular season game will take place at BMO Field, on May. 9.
The Sounders will need to find a way to be more creative in the midfield and generate more shots if they meet Toronto in another MLS Cup Final and exact revenge for last years loss. TFC has dominated this matchup recently. Including Seattle’s 2016 Finals win. Toronto out possessed and outshot the Sounders in both Finals.
3) CASCADIA CUP
If not the rematch with TFC, most Sounders fans will have first looked for the games against Cascadia Rivals the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps. For the Rave Green Nation its MLS Cup then the Cascadia Cup when it comes to measuring the success of a season. Last year the top three Western Conference teams were Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver.
This year Cascadia Cup schedule has a slight twist as there will be fewer games than usual. The Whitecaps will only play two games against each of their rivals while the Sounders and Timbers will each other three times.
The Sounders will be hosting the 101st meeting between the I-5 rivals on June 30th at CenturyLink Field. It will be interesting to see how the winner of the Cascadia Cup is decided in 2018.
4) ROAD WARRIORS
Road wins are tough to come by in the MLS. Toronto FC was the only team in MLS last year to have a have winning road record (7-4-6). The Sounders ( 3-8-6) are in the fortunate position of only having one extended away trip in 2018.
This trip will take place at the start of July, when the Sounders play three straight away games. The three games will be on July 4-15, at Colorado ( July 4th ), at New England (July 7th) and Atlanta ( July 15th). The Sounders will have six days to re-acquaint themselves with their home surroundings as they will host the Whitecaps on Saturday, July 21st.
The only other road challenge for the Sounders will be a couple of two-game road trips. The first is the May 9th return to Toronto followed by a May 13th visit to the Rose to face the Timbers. The two-game road trip comes in the final month of the regular season, with trips to Orlando to face Orlando City SC on October 17th the Houston Dynamo in Houston on October 21st.
The Orlando and Houston could be the trickiest of the road trips. Will the Sounders return to Seattle after the Orlando SC match or stay on the East Coast given there are only four days between the two matches.
Eleven of Seattle’s 17 home games will be played on a Saturday. The Rave Green have one midweek home game all season which will be on Wednesday, September 19th against the Philadelphia Union. Seattle will have 13 nationally televised games Half of the Sounders games will be against 2017 playoff teams (eight home, nine away)