If Seattle were Japan and today was romantic yesteryore, Gonzalo Pineda would be a shogun. He is the man behind the curtain, the Wizard of Gonz.
Pineda does not put up gaudy stats. He doesn’t pull off eye-popping plays. All he does is the little things that make the difference. When Pineda starts, more often than not, Seattle wins.
Gonzalo Pineda was quite the find. Sigi’s ideal eleven to start last season saw Brad Evans teamed up with Ozzie in the middle. When Captain Brad got injured early against Toronto, Pineda came on and hasn’t looked back. Since then he has been, with Ozzie, THE first choice centermid. Think about that: an aging trialist coming off a nearly career-ending injury steals the captain’s roster spot. That sentence alone shows Pineda’s importance to the Sounders. If he wasn’t an excellent footballer, Evans wouldn’t be learning a new position
Pineda is a rock. After joining the starting eleven, he ripped off 14 straight starts (going 90 in all but one, when we went *only* 89 minutes in a 4-0 rout of RSL), and 19 starts in 20 games. He missed that one game due to yellow card accumulation. More than a month of solid play later, he missed a second start due to fixture congestion. However by late September, Pineda was hurt and only played 35 minutes in the next five games, missing three straight. Tellingly, his absence coincided with Seattle’s little swoon that almost cost them the Shield.
The Sounders went LLWWL without Pineda. As you can see, the games they won were easy pickings.
All of this is to ask, with Gonzo out due to his red card and “Be Rad” firmly entrenched in the centerback experiment, who is Hall-of-Fame coach Sigi Schmid gonna pair with Ozzie?
Late last year when Gonzo wasn’t available, Sigi initially started Rose. But after two straight losses, Azira got the nod for the final three. Azira’s performance last year (two wins in three) and his competent covering for Ozzie this year indicates that Sigi will be going with the young Ugandan Sunday in Carson. L.A. has looked a mess lately, but I am sure we’d all rest easier if we had our shogun on the pitch.