The Seattle Sounders must do something about their defense. If Seattle wants to fulfill their lofty ambitions, they must stop hemorrhaging goals. Yesterday I explored a popular excuse for these defensive struggles. Let’s call it the “we’re tired and overly-travelled” excuse. Yet there are other theories we could consider.
One is our style of play. The Sounders are determined to play the game their way: pretty, cheeky and fast. This has proven to be our Achilles heel, especially if we continue to bail on defense, communication and maintaining our shape. The way Seattle attacks, direct and down the spine, makes them vulnerable. Seattle presses everyone forward in the offensive and are damned and determined to dictate the tempo. We’re never content to sit back and react. Too often though, we create a bottleneck at the top of the opponent’s box, and if a ball squirts free, the opponent can counter while we’re struggling to regain our shape. In short, live by the attack, die by the attack.
Which is all well and good if you’re consistently winning barnburners 4-3. But that won’t fly in the playoffs. Teams need to buckle down, possess and defend. It’s the pushing and pushing that opens you up, to say… 3-0 defeats in the first leg of aggregate series. Like this. And this. Just saying. Another context we have to consider, though painful, is… maybe the Sounders have peaked.
Maybe 2014 is already as good as it’s gonna get. Sure we’ve been historically successful so far this season. Currently, we are 2 wins away from 20 on the year. No MLS team has achieved that pinnacle in the post shoot-out era. We’ve won the Open Cup and are in position to win the Treble, but… what if, despite these feathers in our caps, we’re just not that good anymore. It seems counter-intuitive, but we’re shipping goals and, unless we’re playing Chivas, not scoring so many. We’ve suffered injuries. Gonzalo Pineda hasn’t been the lineup since taking a knock at New York. Zach Scott may be seriously hurt (and let’s be honest, we love him, but did we assume, back before the season started, that we’d be counting on Scott to be our starting centerback?). Things just may not be breaking Seattle’s way. But I don’t want this to be true. I really hope we are just tired.
Luckily, the Sounders get a full week between games for the first time since August 25th. Back then, they’d just beat the Timbers and had a week to regen and prep for Colorado. With beating the Rapids 1-0, Seattle began their run of 7 games in 25 days. The Sounders were 5-2 in that span and won a trophy. Coincidentally Seattle’s next opponent is Colorado. Could we be starting another very successful run that ends with silverware?