Win and in: Sounders FC wants to keep qualifying for playoffs simple
Sounders FC can clinch a playoff spot Saturday at Kansas City, win, lose or draw, but winning is the simplest scenario. Win and it clinches, period.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Sounders FC @ Kansas City, 5:30 p.m., KONG
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Win and in.
That's all Sounders FC has to do Saturday in Kansas City to clinch a spot in the Major League Soccer playoffs. A win gives the team 44 points and will earn it one of four wild-card berths. Another win in the regular-season finale Oct. 24, plus some help from other teams, could send Sounders FC to a higher seed in the Western Conference.
For all of the frustrating draws at home, the gripes with the officiating and the missed scoring chances, Sounders FC (10-7-11) has accomplished two things: A) Guaranteed itself a winning record in its inaugural season; B) put itself in a position to have two opportunities to control its own postseason destiny.
The sooner the team clinches, the better, as far as coach Sigi Schmid is concerned.
"We'd like to take care of it this weekend if we can," Schmid said. "It's always a lot better to be in the position that we're in."
Saturday will end three consecutive road games that saw Sounders FC take leads in the first two games but win just one.
"We've definitely been a good road team," Schmid said. "If it's one [point] we'll take one, but three points is what we're shooting for. If we're going to fly all that way, we might as well bring back all three."
Kansas City has seen its playoff fortunes dwindle to must-win games and getting help from other teams. This could play to Sounders FC's advantage.
"They have to play to win," Schmid said. "It's not a point that they're looking to get. They're playing to win, so that should allow the game to be a little more open and they shouldn't be bunkered in the back [on defense] in any way."
Winning takes care of everything in one fell swoop. A loss or a draw with the Wizards, and things begin to get more complicated.
The magic point total could be in the 40s though only twice in 13 previous MLS seasons has a team with 40 or more points failed to make the playoffs.
Sounders FC can still clinch a playoff spot Saturday without winning this weekend. Seattle first must get a draw with Kansas City, combined with a tie or loss for D.C. United against Columbus and a tie or loss for FC Dallas against Colorado. If those scenarios happen, and if Toronto FC fails to get a win over Real Salt Lake on Saturday, Seattle is in. Real Salt Lake stayed alive for a postseason berth with a 2-0 victory over New York on Wednesday.
It's just as complicated if Sounders FC loses Saturday. Seattle can still clinch a playoff spot under that circumstance. Here's how:
• D.C. United fails to win vs. Columbus.
• FC Dallas fails to win vs. Colorado.
• Toronto and Real Salt Lake tie.
Sounders FC Tyrone Marshall is looking for the team to punch its ticket to the postseason this weekend. Sounders FC would be the first expansion team in 11 years to qualify for the MLS playoffs.
"What better scenario would you want?" Marshall asked. "Two weeks ago we were saying we probably need to win all three games to get into the playoffs, but knowing that we can go into Kansas City and come out with a win and clinch a playoff spot is definitely something that is at the forefront of our minds."
José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or firstname.lastname@example.org
UPDATE - 8:54 PM
Sounders lose to another expansion team
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