Fairview grad Shane O’Neill making 2020 count as member of Seattle Sounders FC

Sounders await Columbus Crew in MLS Cup final Saturday night

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – DECEMBER 07: Shane O’Neill #27 of Seattle Sounders reacts after colliding with Ethan Finlay #13 of Minnesota United in the first half during the Western Conference Final of the MLS Cup Playoffs at Lumen Field on December 07, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. O’Neill received a yellow card on the play. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Former Fairview soccer player Shane O’Neill had his initial run in the professional ranks with the Colorado Rapids, but in the past five years he has bounced around the international scene as well as with clubs in Major League Soccer.

His free agent deal with Seattle Sounders FC, however, was a move that has put him in the spotlight.

On Saturday, the 27-year-old center back will likely be on the field for a lot of the action as the Sounders take on Columbus for the MLS Cup title. The game will be broadcast nationally on Fox at 6:30 p.m., and O’Neill will be given the chance to finish a solid season in a most memorable fashion.

O’Neill had 13 starts during the regular season in his first year with Seattle, helping the team’s final line of defense and producing a 11-5-6 record for the Western Conference’s second seed in the playoffs. He then scored the first goal of his Sounders tenure as the lone goal of the semifinal round on Dec. 1, a tally in the 49th minute that constituted his first goal since 2016 while playing in the Netherlands, and his first in the MLS since 2014.

The Sounders made the MLS title game with an impressive 3-2 victory over Minnesota in the Western final, a game in which they rallied from 2-0 down by putting the clamps on the Loons in the second half. Not since 2009 had a MLS team rallied from two goals down in a 90-minute playoff game, and O’Neill’s spot-on defending had much to do with that.

The Sounders will be looking for their third championship in the past five seasons, having won in 2016 and 2019.