Tonight, the Sounders become to first MLS expansion club to play a playoff game since 1998. (Gametime is officially listed for 7, but I've heard that kickoff could be more like 7:20-25, and I notice that the Houston media is listing it that way.) And even though making the playoffs wasn't easily accomplished, there wasn't one day of the season that the Sounders weren't among the top eight of the league standings, and therefore in playoff position.
“From the beginning of the season this was our stated goal," Schmid said. "This is something we wanted to achieve as a team. To finish with the fourth best point total in the league out of fifteen teams is something that they should be very proud of as well.”
However, even though this was always the goal, there was that middle mid- and late-season wobble which for a time made the playoff math seem like quite a challenge ... think of the week leading up to the game at Columbus.
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I asked general manager Adrian Hanauer how disappointing it would have been for the Sounders to have capped this joyful season by missing out on the playoffs ... and how happy he is to have avoided that.
"I always expect the best and prepare for the worst," he said. "Part of me knew and felt that regardless of making or not making the playoffs it’s been a successful year. I can point to a number of games where we dropped points, where we outplayed our opponent and let’s face it, luck plays into soccer, it just does. You ding three off the crossbar in a game, and sometimes you don’t win those games and you don’t pick up the points and you don’t make the playoffs. So, it would have been successful either way. But certainly punctuating the season with a playoff appearance does feel justified and to some degree satisfying for all the work that was put in from everyone whether it’s coaches, players, management. Everyone’s put in a lot of work, and our fans as well. It’s just great to reward them with hopefully a fairytale ending to a fairytale expansion season."