The Seattle Sounders took the pitch a rag-tag team on Saturday. Playing a quality opponent, away, and without Evans, Ozzie, Oba, Deuce or Barrett, Seattle’s fortunes of getting a result were slim to none. Then the game started.
Seattle’s MASH unit gave Sporting Kansas City one helluva fight and a result, any result, would have been fair. But instead Ismail Elfath wrongly called Lamar Neagle offside and curiously thought Stefan Frei had no right to challenge a striker for a loose ball. And so, again in Kansas City, the Sounders lost one to the refs.
*Salazar screwed us in the 2012 USOC Final and now Elfath.
Saturday was a really rough day to be a Sounders fan. If you had told me before kickoff the Sounders would lose 1-nil, I would’ve shrugged and said, Not to shabby.” In my Bold Prediction post, I made a pessimistic assessment of Seattle’s chances. Now I feel ashamed for doubting our boys after they played their hearts out and have nothing to show for it. I made the mistake of thinking our team was just our best players. I was pleasantly reminded that we have quality all over the roster and one helluva coach.
The Sounders trotted out a throwback squad playing Sigi’s old flame, the 4-2-3-1. Sigi ain’t no fool, go with what works. The 4-2-3-1 works, he knows it and can coach the hell out of it. And Marco Pappa’s transcendent play didn’t hurt.
Pappa was the very best player on the pitch: tracking back, digging in on defense, creating chances, taking shots. If you’ve ever wondered what a team built around Pappa looked like, Saturday was an exhibition of the Seattle Marco Pappas. From his wide mid position (though of course he drifted in often), Pappa pulled the strings and created for Lamar Neagle.
Neagle as the lone striker was interesting. I assumed he’d get a chance to shine, and he got that chance. He didn’t exactly shine though as he was unlucky with his finishing. Frankly Barrett would have been a better lone striker. Neagle is versatile because he can play defense and be effective from the midfield. Barrett is simply a striker and that is all Saturday’s formation needed.
I wonder if it would be crazy to play the 4-2-3-1 with Pappa, Dempsey and Oba behind Barrett. We still don’t have any true wingers, but keep trotting out the 4-4-2. We’d be sacrificing some possession and the newfound “defense first “ mentality, but getting all of our best attackers (sorry Neagle) on the pitch could pay dividends. Through this eleven we could easily shift formations between the 4-3-3 and the 4-2-3-1. I know Seattle has experimented with a 4-3-3 (to mixed results) before, but that was before Pappa was so assimilated into the team. Just something to chew on.
It’s a double post day! I’ll be back later with a USWNT post previewing their match with Australia.