On a night where there were nearly as many story lines as fans packed into CenturyLink Field, Seattle Sounders FC drew 1-1 with Sporting Kansas City, giving an open and exciting game a dull scoreline.
It’s not surprising to see though, a draw was the most likely outcome and Sounders fans have to be happy with one point against one of the MLS’ most difficult team. Well at least be happy with the point based on how poorly the team has been playing over the last month. There’s no question that the Sounders are still on a slide, but it appears that they are reaching the end.
Seattle played possibly their best attacking game of the season since their opener against Toronto, albeit against a deflated and changed KC back line. But it wasn’t like the sounders best 11 were on the pitch either. Both sides made massive changes from their strongest team including Seattle playing third string keeper Andrew Weber who sat behind a back four who have yet to play together.
Bottom line after watching this one live and the following replay is that Seattle played well and deserved three points. The concern going into the I-5 Darby against Portscum Sunday is that the Sounders were not able to capitalize on their many chances.
Here are my three observations on the draw against Sporting Kansas City and looking forward to Sunday’s Cascadia Cup match.
1. Offense looked like they did during the US Open Cup.
In two US Open Cup matches so far this season the Sounders have scored a total of 10 goals. There’s no denying that this Seattle side have some fire power, but during this month-long daze they have not been able to string together passes in the final third and create opportunities, that was until last night. KC played a very high and dangerous line which striker Eddie Johnson flirted with breaking a few times. Long balls were accurate for Seattle, the quick interchanging play was beautiful to watch as well as effective and the chances were there for Seattle to have at least three goals on the night.
Once the finishing gets back to form for Seattle, there’s no telling how many goals this team will score through the rest of the season.
2. Stick a fork in Álvaro Fernández, he’s done.
The MLS created the designated player rule so sides could add big names and talent with our busting over the salary cap. DP’s are not only skilled, but also act as leaders for the rest of the team. One of Seattle’s DPs is the franchise’s leading scorer, another is the team captain and the third needs to get the hell out of Seattle.
It was a fun start in Seattle for Uruguayan international midfielder Álvaro Fernández who made an immediate impact when joining the team in 2010, scoring 13 goals in all competitions, but this season has yet to find both his form and his attitude. Fernández was supposed to make the left wing his own, a position where the ball would be moved in and out of followed by darting runs into the box and lovely headed finishes. Instead it has been full of sloppy passing, no ambition to run and worst acting than an off-Broadway production touring in Tulsa.
All of my frustration with Fernández came to a head last night when he came on as a late sub for captain Mauro Rosales. Flaco missed an early header opportunity off an Alex Caskey corner and followed it up with a late, reckless and downright dumb retaliation tackle to the back of KC’s Roger Espinoza which landed him a straight red card. Fernández who scored Seattle’s lone goal in last season’s home tilt with Portscum will now miss this year’s tie due to the additional one game suspension.
He’s done, keep Caskey and get something out of the transfer window for Fernández.
3. The defense is still shaky, but not as bad.
It’s hard to sit here and criticize a defense that is missing three of the five starters. Andrew Weber made his first start in Seattle’s goal last night, and although he didn’t play poorly — the one goal was a lucky deflection — he is no Michael Gspurning. Zach Scott’s run of starts has given the vet confidence and playing time, but the Sounders brought in Swedish international Adam Johansson for a reason. And now with Jhon Kennedy Hurtado back for Sunday’s affair, coach Sigi Schmid will have the tough decision on who gets the two center back spots between Hurtado, Pat Ianni and Jeff Parke.
Health has been the biggest problem this season for the Sounders, but as soon as that back line is healthy again, we will really see what this Seattle defense is made of.