Some Seattle Sounders underwhelmed more than others in Saturday’s frustrating loss to Chicago.
The major whipping boys, as I see them, are Chad Barrett, Micheal Azira and Gonzalo Pineda. I’ve been anti-Chad “pickle juice” Barrett for a while now. His brace against Vancouver feels like a looong time ago. He can’t go 90 minutes, can’t create his own shot and he’s a liability on defense. Worse, we’ve seen his best and every minute he takes robs a young’un from development. Sigi ought to start considering Craven for Barrett’s spot in the lineup, both players had exactly one shot-on-goal against Chicago. Barrett found his in 65 minutes, while Craven needed less than half that, 25.
It sure looks like Pineda is cooked. Believe me, I am a huge Pineda fan (last year he was a revelation) but I think the party’s over. That whiff on the 92nd free kick that triggered Chicago’s counter was inexcusable. He’s only missed four games this season and has started 15, but that speaks more to our desperation to field a competent roster than to his indispensability to the team. The most shocking thing is Pineda’s collapse happened so fast. It seems like just yesterday Gonzo was acing the tightest passes into space and cycling the ball to the forwards. Did he somehow get his 370th carry and we didn’t know it? It sure seems Garth and co. know Pineda shouldn’t be starting and that’s why a certain Swede with an affinity for tacos was recently signed.
Azira? I’ve said what I’ve said about Azira. He could’ve made something happen, as he was in the right place at the right time, and just didn’t. Azira only played 7+ minutes but he indelibly scarred the game. He replaced the attack-minded and tiring Roldan as the center of the advanced midfielders. It made sense tactically, as we wanted to stay in the 4-2-3-1 to keep the midfield presence, but wanted a more defensive player. It didn’t work. Azira doesn’t work. The sooner he’s out of the 18, the better.
I know I’ve been mighty quiet about the CONCACAF Gold Cup. I’ll chime in on the USMNT’s fortunes and performance in that tournament starting with Saturday’s match in the quarterfinals. The Group Stage of the Gold Cup is a farce. Since 1991, when the CONCACAF Championship was rebranded the Gold Cup, The USMNT had only failed to win 3 games in the group stage; now 4 with last night’s draw against Panama. In 2005 and 2009, the US drew their final Group Stage game fielding a B-Team lineup (kinda like yesterday’s result). It was only in 2011 when Clarence Goodson knocked in an own goal for Panama did the US ever lose a group stage game. Long story short: I don’t tune in ‘til the games matter. Though seeing Yedlin and Dempsey working together again sure felt good. If only they were both wearing Rave Green.