The Seattle Sounders fell one-nil to their Cascadia rivals the Vancouver Whitecaps. We are lucky as Sounders fans to support a team that can legitimately win lots of silverware this season: the US Open Cup, the Cascadia Cup, Supporters Shield and MLS Cup (and Hell, throw in that useless Heritage Cup as well). Losing doesn’t help any of those campaigns. Saturday was only our fourth loss this season and we’re gonna lose a couple, right? We don’t live a magical charmed existence where our favorite team never loses.
BUT… this loss hurt. It felt like we dropped more than just three points. We lost to a Western Conference foe. We lost to a Cascadia rival. According to my calculations, we dropped nine points: three in Cascadia, three in the Western Conference, and three in the Supporters’ Shield race). Maybe we’re all getting a little greedy here, but the team looked bad in defeat.
Seattle played ugly. It was the first game in a long time where the Sounders were clearly the thugs. We fouled the ‘Caps 21 times to their 12. 21-12, let that sink in. Though at times I felt we couldn’t fart near a blue shirt or referee Baldomero Toldeo would whip out the whistle, the Sounders were moonlighting as cheap shot artists up in BC. Even with a ref picking nits, doubling your opponent’s fouls is poor form.
Chad Barrett went the full ninety for the first time all season, but didn’t drape himself in glory. He didn’t catch up the critical eye of coach Sigi Schmid, but I was disappointed in Barrett’s play. Sure he was pesky, but he was rarely dangerous. Worse he kept losing his cool and giving up needless fouls. At least four times Toledo blew his whistle, Barrett walked away huffy ‘cause he knew he pulled a cheap shot. He was frustrated, sure, but stopping the play and ceding free kicks in no way to chase the game.
The most frustrating part of Saturday was that our usual studs were duds. Kenny Cooper, like Sigi said, was a non-factor. Sigi also criticized Lamar Neagle, who disappeared for large portions of the first half. Then Neagle came out after the break playing like the 253 we know and love. Unfortunately he took a hard knock and had to come out. I didn’t realize at the time how much that might’ve changed the game. We ended up not fielding any forwards, Cooper, Barrett, Neagle or Weaver, dangerous enough to win us the game.
Vancouver keeper David Ousted didn’t sweat all night. Our only two promising shots, Neagle’s scorcher right after the break and Marco Pappa looking for the top corner at the death, both missed the mark. Our attackers did a crap job of making Ousted earn his beer money. Seattle took just as many shots as Vancouver, 17. But only one of ours was on target as opposed to the ‘Caps who pumped seven at Stefan Frei. We forced Ousted to make only one save?! I know Cooper and Barrett aren’t Dempsey and Oba. And I know not having a legitimate threat like Oba allows teams to shut down Barrett and Neagle. But these guys, with or without a DP next to them, should still know to kick the ball at the net.
Another problem was our inability to win duels in the midfield. The ‘Caps smoked us 64%-55% in duels won. Normally I don’t put much credence in that stat, but taken within the context of missing both Ozzie Alonso and Gonzalo Pineda, the stat tells the story. Michael Azira did his best filling in, but Azira isn’t Ozzie. He started sloppy but, I was impressed, he did eventually find the game. I have not been a big Azira fan, but he acquitted himself admirably. Captain Brad Evans also was solid in the middle. But Evans in the middle put Jalil Anibaba at rightback. Anibaba was serviceable, he did nothing wrong, he just wasn’t very useful in the attack. He pushed forward but couldn’t execute a solid cross.
Deep breathe. Let’s focus on the positive and practice gratitude. Marco Pappa was all over the field. That man had hustle and flair. He is a quality footballer and I am proud he wears the Rave Green. Chad Marshall was a rock, as always. Tristan Bowen, finally getting minutes and looking like a demolition man, was a pleasant surprise. Lastly, Stefan Frei came up with HUGE saves. The Whitecaps made him work and he had a solid job at the office. Frei kept us in this game, and it’s a shame we didn’t steal a result to reward him.
Big week this week. Portland week. Two games and they’re both huge. Also you may have heard a little something about DeAndre Yedlin taking a Roman holiday… lots to talk about this week. Stay tuned Raving readers! Same Rave time, same Rave channel!