Sounders learning firsthand that MLS Cup repeat will be a challenge

This year’s Sounders team needed a few months to finally find its stride. “It’s the obvious target on the back,” Marshall said. “You get everyone’s best every week because you’re that measuring stick that everyone pits themselves against. … Every game’s a battle.’’

Sounders defender Chad Marshall remembers the first time he tried to repeat as a champion.

Marshall was a back-line anchor for the Columbus Crew squad that captured the 2008 MLS Cup. A year later, the Crew won a Supporters Shield as the league’s best regular-season team and entered the playoffs seeking another title.

But it wasn’t to be. The Crew was eliminated in a conference semifinal series by Real Salt Lake.


L.A. Galaxy @ Sounders FC, 6 p.m., FS1

“It was difficult,’’ Marshall said of that season. “Every game was a battle, and you feel it come this time of the year. That August and September grind, getting through the summer and the heat.”

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The exhaustion from being the team to beat is just one reason it’s so difficult for any professional sports title-holder to repeat. Free agency, health, offseason distractions and plain old luck swinging another way can ruin a champion’s best-laid plans.

The Sounders won their first MLS Cup last season. This year, riding a club-record 11-game unbeaten streak entering Sunday night’s home game against the Los Angeles Galaxy, they sit just two points out of first place in the Western Conference, having played two fewer matches than Portland. But even they seemed to hit a bit of an August wall with lackluster 1-1 results their last two matches.

One thing’s for certain: The dynasties of yesteryear — the Boston Celtics winning eight NBA titles in a row from 1959-66 or the Montreal Canadiens capturing five consecutive Stanley Cups in the 1950s and even the New York Yankees winning three straight World Series from 1998-2000 — just don’t happen like they used to.

Nowadays, two titles in a row generates dynasty talk, something only the Pittsburgh Penguins, Miami Heat and Galaxy have managed this decade among the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and MLS.

Harder now to repeat

Some feel luck played a role in the Seahawks failing to repeat as Super Bowl champs in February 2015. Russell Wilson threw an interception at the goal line with seconds to go against New England, rather than handing the ball off to Marshawn Lynch…

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