The Seattle Sounders lost to the San Jose Earthquakes 1-1 last night in their fourth and final matchup of the season. Okay, it only felt like a loss. In reality, Seattle drew and earned a point, which puts them back atop MLS’s Western Conference. But for a tired team in desperate need of momentum and confidence, last night’s result was anything but.
The Sounders continue sputtering and stuttering. Only the turf at the CLink looked refreshed (though some football lines were apparent). Seattle started the game slow and settled for a tie against a team that was begging to be beat. Coach Sigi Schmid started an Open Cup-esque lineup that featured only four players who tallied significant minutes Saturday in Salt Lake (DeAndre Yedlin, Chad Marshall, Ozzie Alonso and Kenny Cooper). Jalil Anibaba started at left back, Kenny Cooper as a wide midfielder (a position which I think well suits him), Andy Rose in central midfield and Chad Barrett up top with Obafemi Martins. The biggest lineup surprise was the absence of Clint Dempsey who only came in for the final 19 minutes. Deuce hadn’t played the previous Wednesday against Chicago and thus had less tread on his tires, but Sigi decided he needed the rest nevertheless. Sigi is not to blame. Considering another quick turn around before Sunday’s big derby with Portland, resting regulars was a solid decision and this lineup should’ve won.
The Sounders are tired. I am fixture weary, as the Sounders’ schedule has been so packed lately that most of my posts have been either match previews or match recaps (with very little room for my regular pontifications on culture, economics, etc.). If this blogger is tired of this slog of games you know the players are too. Seattle’s fatigue was most evident in the final third. San Jose started a woefully depleted lineup and all we could manage was one goal on a team that hemorrhaged five last week to FC Dallas. Though Seattle poured in 24 shots, Earthquakes keeper Jon Busch was barely tested, as only 7 were on frame. I repeat, less than a third of Seattle’ shots actually went towards goal. We kept forcing desperate shots instead of creating quality looks. We iced our one good look, when Obafemi Martins fed Chad Barrett in the 45th minute. But it is a problem when a forward is the only one providing quality service to the forwards. Sigi discussed this in his postgame press conference, citing a lack of quality passes from the midfield, “There’s not enough of those balls coming from our midfielders.” This team needs to get their groove back.
Seattle just isn’t winning the games they used to. Draws have been rare (even more so at home) for a team that always found a way to put the ball in the back of the net. Potentially the team has been too dependent on their attacking stars. Wade Webber, on the postgame radio show, said Seattle’s “been relying more on individual brilliance than teamwork.” And I hate to admit it, but he’s right. DeAndre Yedlin played a helluva game, as he and a playmaking Obafemi Martins were the best players on the pitch. But two quality players do not a team make.
Seattle must do better on short rest in Portland. It’s disgusting to think about, but the Timbers must be salivating.