“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
Much hand wringing is taking place in Seattle as the Sounders head into tomorrow’s match against the San Jose Earthquakes. Gone are the expectations of dominance that the earlier run of eleven results in twelve games engendered. Now Sounders fans don’t know what to expect from game to game: we stumble to Vancouver but beat Portland. We trash Chicago but lose to RSL.
Now is the time to get angsty. The schedule is unrelenting, as the Sounders will play their fourth game in eleven days on Wednesday. Such fixture congestion will certainly lead to injuries and this comes right as the Sounders were hoping to be kicking the injury bug. Djimi Traore, Leo Gonzalez, and Chad Marshall had been in and out the trainer’s room before and now we can add Brad Evans and Marco Pappa to the list of walking wounded.
The defense has gotten leaky and the offense has dried up. Be prepared, I am going to cite some small sample sizes (a statistical faux pas, but we’re painting a picture rather than building an objective case): in the last six league games the Sounders have given up 7 goals while only scoring 5. Simply put we’re scoring less than a goal a game, while giving up a little over that. Whereas in the previous five games, we scored a whopping 11 goals (over 2 per game) and only ceded 4 (less than 1 per). Certainly we could dig deep to find some causal relationships (no Chad Marshall equals more goals given up), but the short story is Seattle needs to get back in form. Goals mean results.
Points need to be earned. Currently RSL and Sporting Kansas City have earned more than the Sounders. Hell even Dallas is one win away from surpassing Seattle. And don’t cite games in hand. I don’t care about them. We had games in hand all of last season and it didn’t amount to a side of fries at the end. However, to complicate your angst is the fact that things are looking good in Sounderland.
Now is the time to relax and enjoy the season. Seattle beat Chicago in uproariously easy fashion in last week’s US Open Cup Semifinal. Seattle is now in their fifth USOC Final in six years with a very realistic chance of winning it all and punching their ticket to the CONCACAF Champions League. This means allocation money which means sustained investment in quality players, coaches and infrastructure.
Good things are still happening. The Sounders still lead the league in points-per-game, and would still do so even if they lose to San Jose. The Sounders’ next five games are against the West and wins will easily erase their recent stumbles. Three of those games are at home and one is at Chivas USA, so the Sounders can realistically expect to bank 10 points. Players are getting healthy. Andy Rose is fit again and looking great. His performance against Chicago, both on offense and defense, was simply spectacular. No matter the opponent, Chad Barrett continues to be a potent super sub and the solid Chad Marshall is back to match fitness.
To paraphrase Chuck Dickens, “The Sounders ain’t dead yet (or was that John Cleese?).”