Sandwiched somewhere between all those college basketball games today, the expansion Seattle Sounders and New York Red Bulls kick off the MLS season at 6 p.m. on ESPN2 in HD.
Much has been written in the past few days about the game so I’ll limit myself to just one observation.
Not to pour cold water over the general sense of euphoria enveloping Seattle, but Michael Lewis at bigapplesoccer.com has placed the challenges the Sounders face in qualifying for the playoffs in the proper context by noting how the six previous MLS expansion teams fared in their first season:
*Chicago Fire (1998): Second in the Western Conference (20-12, 56 points); captured the MLS Cup title
*Miami Fusion (1998): Fourth in the Eastern Conference (15-17, 35); eliminated in the first round of the playoffs
*Real Salt Lake (2005): Fifth in the Western Conference (5-22-6, 20); did not make the playoffs.
*Chivas USA (2005): Sixth place in the Western Conference and last overall (4-22-6, 18); did not make the playoffs
*Toronto FC (2007): Seventh place in the Eastern Conference and last overall (6-17-7, 25); did not make the playoffs
*San Jose Earthquakes (2008): Tied for sixth place with the L.A. Galaxy in the Western Conference (8-13-9, 33); did not make the playoffs.
MLS, of course, is a far different league than it was when the Fire captured the title in 1998.
Good luck to long-time South Bay resident and Sounders Coach Sigi Schmid.
Enjoy the game.