The Seattle Sounders took another gut punch, this one on the Wasatch Front, and fell 2-1 at RSL. After two weeks, the Sounders find themselves cellar dwellers in the Western Conference.
You could argue Seattle deserves better. SKC had a man advantage for nearly an hour and needed a fluke volley from a centerback for the winner. RSL won with a veteran centerback taking a controversial advantage against a callow keeper. But frankly… Seattle hasn’t looked very good.
We can complain about gut punches and lucky goals, but Seattle isn’t playing well right now. At times we look great but our inconsistency is maddening. We’ve only been consistent with shaky defense, as we’re averaging 2 goals against per game.
Drilling deeper, Seattle is developing (or reigniting) dangerous habits. The Sounders have given up 8 goals this season and 5 have come in the last 5 minutes (or stoppage time) of a half. 4 of which came at the end of the first half. On its own, these are odd stats and the small sample size probably doesn’t carry much meaning. But if we wanted to extrapolate, we could argue that either Seattle is physically unfit or mentally lazy.
The Sounders have usually been a very fit team. And four goals allowed around the 45th minute doesn’t support overall fatigue. I doubt the players are tiring more at the end of the first half than the second, so let’s run with the “Sounders are checking out early” theory.
RSL scored both their goals by exploiting Seattle’s 2015 bugaboo, set piece defending. Both set pieces happened to come at the end of a half. So 2016’s habit of flaking before a break just happened to coincide with the ghost of yesteryear. yes it’s early, but this potent cocktail of mental mistakes could derail a season. The Sounders have to stay confident and focus.
It’s disconcerting that a team with veteran leadership (coach included) suffers stupid mental lapses this early in the season. Because even if there is no solid argument here, and the Sounders have just suffered some raw luck, other teams are going to take notice. Seattle has to double their focus before breaks or opponents will try to really to punish the Sounders.
We don’t even have Lamar Neagle to blame anymore for lazy marking. Worse? We don’t have his energy off the bench either. A team known for fireworks, a team that invested a lot of money in Dempsey, Valdez, Ivanschitz and Morris, hasn’t been lighting it up. Seattle has one goal on the MLS season, and it’s not from one of the well-paid luminaries mentioned above. It’s from Ozzie, a man paid mostly to stop goals. If you don’t score goals, you don’t win games.