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Bakaye Dibassy's goal in the 67th minute of the 2020 MLS Western Conference final looked like the clincher. A cross headed into the bottom right corner put Minnesota United up 2-0 over the Seattle Sounders and within spitting distance of a trip to the MLS Cup.

When the dust settled 23 minutes later, a flurry of Seattle goals, including the equalizer in the 89th and the winner in stoppage time, sent the Sounders, not the Loons, on to the final.

Since entering MLS in 2009, the Sounders have established themselves as the league standard-bearers, a fact stamped for good earlier this month when they lifted the CONCACAF Champions League title 5-2 on aggregate over Liga MX side Pumas. It marked the first time an American team has won the CCL, ending a 13-year run by Mexican teams since the competition was reconfigured in 2008.

"Fulfilling for everything for the league," Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath said of the Sounders' win. "Because I think everybody has known that the gap is getting closer and closer each year, and I think this just has just finished it off now and everybody realizes that.

"Years and years ago, nobody really thought that MLS teams could win the Champions League. This year, we would've been surprised if Seattle, when they got to the final, didn't win it. I think that shows you how far we've come."

Seattle is the model for a team like the Loons — a former USL team that quickly worked its way into the upper echelon of MLS teams. Heath credits much of his success in the league to the work he witnessed from Brian Schmetzer and the Sounders while Heath built up Orlando City SC in its USL days.

"When I first got here, I went around and spent time with a lot of organizations," Heath said. "I have to say that when I got here, it was the late, great Sigi Schmid who was the manager and Schmetz was his assistant. They couldn't have done more for me as a coach coming in to try and help us realize what we eventually became when we were in Orlando. I have to say that some of the clubs didn't even respond to you, but this one, they called. I sat in some of their team meetings, and it was unbelievable the access they gave me, so it's something I always appreciate."

That partnership has lasted into Heath's MLS days. He said he always shares a glass of wine with Schmetzer after their teams play. Sunday, Schmetzer has a "particularly nice vintage" prepared for the two.

But for the Loons to become the Sounders, they must first rival them. In 11 MLS games against the Sounders all time, the Loons are 1-9-1. The record's even worse in Seattle: six games, six losses.

"You need to show up for the full 90 there," Loons center back Michael Boxall said of Seattle after Thursday's 2-1 victory over Colorado. "I think there's been a few occasions where we've been in good spots to get this team, and they come back very late. They're a team that never gives up."

In league play, the Sounders as of Friday sat only one place above last in West with seven points off a 2-5-1 record, although they have played the fewest matches in MLS this season. The San Jose Earthquakes bounced them from the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday after a penalty shootout that came down to shots from the goalkeepers.

"Obviously they've had a difficult start," Heath said. "But I think that's to do with the fact that they've sort of put all their eggs in the Champions League basket. They've rotated their best 11 in terms of getting ready for the next game. Even this week in the Open Cup, they got beat on penalties, it was mainly a second team.

"We're getting the full force tomorrow. It'll be [Nicolas] Lodeiro, it'll be [Raul] Ruidiaz, it'll be [Cristian] Roldan, it'll be Jordan Morris. So we know it's gonna be tough."