If you think back approximately one year ago, you might remember a dark day we knew then as the "US Open Cup final."
It sounded fun at the time, but a lack of something-or-other over the match saw D.C. United's players run out winners with a trophy aloft, celebrating with the not insubstantial group of D.C. fans that made their way to Rio Tinto. You might remember that match and our inability to really do much of note aside from allow Lewis Neal (really? Lewis Neal?) of all people to score a goal.
Anyway, it's that time of year again, and while we're obviously not in the running (we have only ourselves to blame) we will probably be interested in the result. Why? It's something we've talked a lot about, and it starts with 'Ch' and ends with 'ampions League.' (It also starts with CONCACAF, but I thought that might give it away.) It also has a bit to do with Friday's loss to Sounders, too.
Champions League is quite clearly something we, as a team, want to be involved in. It's the pinnacle of our region (even if it involves playing some "small" teams) and is something we've yet to accomplish as a nation. Obviously, RSL had the best chance there (#MLS4RSL, anyone?) but as with all things great and interesting, the match was one with margins as tight as you could ask for.
Enough about the past, though — that's something we ought to be moving from. There's little reason in harping on it now, right? It's just that we have a chance to get back into Champions League, and it's in our interest that Seattle wins tomorrow night.
Our loss may have seen us basically knocked out of the running for the Supporters Shield, but there's still every bit a chance we finish ahead of LA Galaxy, who drew their last two matches — something just enough to give us hope. We remain five points behind the Galaxy, so this isn't going to be easy. But if Seattle Sounders win, they'll be handed an automatic entry into Champions League. There remain three spots up for grabs after tomorrow night regardless.
Let's break down a little scenario for the spots here:
1. Seattle wins the US Open Cup
2. Seattle wins the Supporters Shield (three points ahead and a game in hand over LA Galaxy)
3. Somebody in the Eastern Conference gets a spot by virtue of being the top of the opposite conference of the Shield winner
4. Somebody wins MLS Cup
If Seattle wins both the Cup and the Shield (what is this, the 15th century?), they don't get to enter themselves twice in the Champions League. Instead, the next-highest-placed team is given the spot. If we manage to get just behind Seattle Sounders — probably the best we can hope for at this point (though one never knows what could happen) — we'd be in that spot.
It gives us a fine chance to take that CCL spot we've so badly wanted (and failed to obtain by our own performances) — and that's why we should be supporting Seattle Sounders tomorrow, even if it does make us feel a little dirty.