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Last year, Sounders FC had a crystal-clear midseason turnaround that salvaged a dreadful 4-8-3 start. Roger Levesque scored an 89th-minute winner against D.C. United and the dramatic road win ignited a 10-2-2 run to close the MLS season.
Maybe it wasn’t that exact moment, maybe there were a few of them, but 2010 definitely had a turning point midway through the season.
This week, some Sounders were asked if this year had a similar moment — perhaps one that took the team from good to elite.
Midfielder Brad Evans picked a 4-2 home win against New York (also a game Levesque had a big influence). Seattle took an early two-goal lead, but blew it in the second half.
“I thought if we would’ve lost it, the wheels would’ve come off a little bit,” said Evans. “The season could’ve taken a different direction. We pulled out a win in that game, we scored two in the second half and I think that was a good turning point for us. We found confidence after that and just got momentum.”
Coach Sigi Schmid mentioned several:
— The win at Real Salt Lake (“It showed us that we could win.”)
— The win at FC Dallas (“We maybe didn’t play our best game, but we sort of battled through.”)
— The win at Monterrey in Mexico.
— The win at Toronto (“It was a game where we ended up playing against the odds a little bit — playing a man down — and then coming up with that free kick at the end.”)
“There was just a resiliency that you could see in the team,” said Schmid in summary, “a composure and a maturity that was greater than it had been in years past.”
If I had to pick a turning point, I’d side with the Real Salt Lake game away (fitting with the upcoming matchup in the Western Conference semifinals). Fredy Montero was benched. Mauro Rosales went unused as a sub. Alvaro Fernandez pulled up with a hamstring injury early. But in the wind and rain — and in a stadium where RSL hadn’t lost in 29 games — the Sounders held on for the 2-1 win behind goals from Patrick Ianni and Lamar Neagle. I was there and definitely got the sense it was a breakthrough.
Said Neagle, who might feature in the return trip on Saturday, after the game: “We came into it knowing they had a streak going and we definitely wanted to end it. We want to be a team that ends other people’s streaks and … hopefully we’re on the start of our own.”
But what about you? In your opinion, what were some of the biggest moments or turning points this season?