The Sounders have made the playoffs, but through the backdoor of a basement that opens onto a dark alley. The undramatic success came after the Los Angeles Galaxy had a scoreless draw with San Jose Sunday night, eliminating the Earthquakes from the playoffs.
The five teams from the Western Conference are Portland, Real Salt Lake, Los Angeles, Seattle and Colorado, which has a 12-goal lead over San Jose in the tiebreaker with one game left.
The Sounders could have entered through the front door of the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year by winning any one of their past four games. They lost all, including 2-0 Saturday at Dallas to a team already eliminated from the playoffs. Dallas is losing its coach and had two players fighting with each other at halftime.
The Sounders’ six-game winless streak is the second-longest in club history, and finished a 5-10-2 road record and a minus-14 goal differential, worst in club history.
A playoff failure would be embarrassing, given the expectations around the signing of Clint Dempsey, the U.S. Men’s National Team captain who has yet to have a goal or assist. He has been injured, called up to the national team and heavily marked since he began MLS play Aug. 25.
The regular season ends Sunday against the Galaxy at the Clink, where the Sounders hope to advance into the top three West spots in order to avoid the loser-out game between seeds four and five.