It is all too cliche to say, “don’t hit the panic button yet” after a slow start to a season.
That’s a BS statement — the panic button should always have a firm finger on it, and there’s reason to be concerned about the Sounders FC early-season form. But that doesn’t mean anyone is losing hope — that’s called an overreaction.
Through four league matches, the Sounders are on a near-record low points pace, piling up one lonely point through the matches (0-3-1). After last night’s defeat at Rio Tinto against rival Real Salt Lake, the Sounders have also lost two consecutive matches during MLS play for the second time this season (opening night against Montreal and last season’s MLS Cup playoff loss to LA).
The defense is porous, the attack is slightly timid and the lineup choices are different every week due to injury or international leave.
The goals have yet to come, two in four matches, while the reliance on Michael Gspurning in net has been far to heavy.
This way the Sounders have performed to start the season is worthy of one point, but there’s no reason they can’t grab 10 in their next four matches — here’s how.
Coming up – the Sounders once again had a tough schedule to start off the league campain. At RSL and San Jose are no easy task. Add to that a rivalry match against Portland and a talented Montreal side and its easy to dig a hole early. Up next though for the Rave Green is a home match against New England, away to Colorado, at Philadelphia and at Sporting Kansas City. There’s no reason this team can’t win those first three and fight for a draw at KC — there’s your 10 points.
Mixed into that also is the home and away legs of the CONCACAF Champions League semifinal match against Santo Laguna, starting Tuesday at CenturyLink Field. The QF win over Tigres has been by far the team’s biggest victory this season, but has been overshadowed by the sluggish league start.
Another positive with this upcoming schedule is the time between matches. Those four league matches take place between April 13 and May 8 — plenty of time for this talented team to bond.
The stars need to align – When Fredy Montero left, it was the end of the world for some Sounders fans, but GM Adrian Hanauer and Co. Had their man already in the crosshairs, and now Obafemi Martins is a Sounder and is ready to contribute. Unfortunately in a Mario Martinez-esque case, the second Martins arrived, he was sent back to Nigeria for a FIFA World Cup qualifier — as was Eddie Johnson and Martinez.
Having those three players back and healthy, along with a fit Brad Evans and Shalrie Joseph (who I think it still a DP on the team) means a lot of options for manager Sigi Scmid to choose from come match day.
Other notes – Here’s a few more quick hits to look out for as the season progresses, starting with Tuesday’s vital CONCACAF match.
- Right back Adam Johansson has been released from the club, not because of a contract dispute or injury, but because DeAndre Yedlin is that damn good. MLS Team of the Week after his first league start — yeah, we’ll keep him.
- As I previously mentioned, Joseph is still on the squad — he just hasn’t played a minute yet.
- As with last season, I’m still very curious to see what Mario Matrinez can do for the squad. Now that he won’t be called up to his national team for a while, he can actually gel with the team
- Mauro Rosales for the most part has looked old and not worth a DP slot — let’s hope that changes
- Gspurning has already won MLS Goalkeeper of the Year. He’s been that good so far, keep watching his progress as he’s looking for a Austrian national team call-up.
Ideal Starting XI – With the addition of Martins, this becomes even harder, as three midfielders are essentially competing for one spot. Pick your poison, but I put my first choice listed first.
GK – Gspurning
CB – Hurtado CB – Traore
RB – Yedlin LB – Gonzalez
CDM – Alonso
RM – Rosales/Martinez LM – Zakuani
CM – Martinez/Evans/Joseph
FW – Johnson FW – Martins