Sounders Weekly: Life Sucks, Better Get a Helmet

Angry words, all over the internets and I would imagine in real life too.

The only words of condolence I can really offer is that I feel you and get your frustration. Though you may like to stop reading right there because this article isn’t going to be one that hugs you, pats you on the head and turns that frown upside down. I’ll get there in a second but I’ll just say quit while you’re ahead.

If it wasn’t enough to drop points at home and do so in a pretty tragic way it promoted many #ACES responses in my Twitter feed which pretty much is one of the few MLS or Soccer things that just out right piss me off. I don’t honestly get it. There seems to me that there are enough teams in MLS that have done equally dickish things that people would hate them as much or more. Here would be my submitted list.

5) Toronto FC – They pretty much just went out and spent crazy money (over $100 million) in the hopes that they could finally compete in a league that has a median club salary of near $3 million. Basically giving the finger to every league average player.

4) Sporting Kansas City – I get that this seems a tad obvious. I’m a Sounders fan so by association I hate Sporting. No, no, no and yes. But here is the thing, and this has little to do with our awesome matches that end with us scoring in extra time and stealing points, it deals more with their perpetual tactics to kick and rough up their opponents when, really they don’t need to. Their basically the East Coast San Jose Quakes only they have the players to play pretty soccer from time to time.

3) Colorado Rapids – Look, it’s not that they have anyone that goes out of their way to complete hurt anyone… errr… anymore. This has more to do with the fact that should there be a gust of wind in your park there may or may not be the occasion for the referee to make a penalty determination. They go down more than that cheerleader in high school with “daddy” issues and while that’s cheap joke I feel it’s appropriately used in this case.

2)  LA Galaxy – They have Robbie Keane. Sure he’s a great player, he’s also a terrible teammate (I’m making a complete snap judgement here based upon the many verbal on the field encounters he seems to have with his own teammates… while wearing the Captains armband no less)  and he’s a clown. I don’t feel the need to explain myself more.

1) San Jose Earthquakes – They play a rough and tumble style of play that pushes their antics to the limit of what the governing referee with allow. I can’t say that I’ve actually seen a match of theirs that didn’t involve multiple cards.

Sounders fans are notoriously sensitive and at times whiny — but that pretty much describes every fan base and it makes me feel as though other fans really have no clue why they really dislike Seattle except that other people do and they feel comfortable doing what the cool kids do.

Speaking of crying much of the talk coming from this game is going to center around referee Allen Chapman and I get it. His gift to Djimi Traore in the wake of the awkward challenge against Dominic Oduro at the 59th minute — a red card — changed the complexion of the game in the favor of the Crew. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that they were a dangerous team before that moment–things obviously started sliding in their favor after the Traore send off. Prior to the 58th minute the Crew had 69 total passes in the final third with two key passes. Afterwards, in the final 32 minutes they had a total of 58 total passes with two key passes. Basically 1.8 attacking passes per minute in the second half versus the 1.2 in the first half. It seems more minor than what it is. The point is it changed things and I’m trying to get through this thing without referencing “turning points”.

Now while it’s cool that we want to sit there with a tub of ice cream and act as though we are a 24-year old women who is afraid she’ll never meet Mr. Right or have kids or grand kids and can’t understand why people don’t take her seriously. The problem with being that girl is that it kind of buries your head in sand at the problem of the fact that she has Mr. Right she just wants Joseph Gordon-Levitt from whatever movie he did that is popular this week. The Sounders are lucky they were in the match for as long as they were and while that’s not a direct indictment upon the back line or the midfield or even specifically Djimi Traore, it’s true.

The Sounders are a team that over the last couple of years I’ve grown to accept will allow shots on their terms. They aren’t a gobbling defense like RSL (how did they not make my list of dick heads? YSA, anyone?), LA  or Sporting that is all about swarming, denying entry into the attacking third or just in general preventing the shot from occurring. Seattle will block plenty of shots in fact they were 2nd in blocked shots last year–and fifth this year. If you adjust for that they only gave away 311 uncontested shots which would be good for 4th best in the league, a step up from 8th. The problem with that is that it’s not a full proof system and you’re still likely relying on the keeper in some capacity for work.

This was one of those matches and what made it worse was that in this game they only got one official blocked shot according to OPTA data services.  Getting out shot in high percentage zones. Making things worse was that out of the eight shots Seattle took inside the 18 yard box four of them came from off an attacking header. These have shown to have a lower finishing rate than say a ball struck by your foot. This according to NASORB’s own Matthias Kullowatz.

Columbus created nine total chances inside the penalty box and of those only one was blocked and only one came off a header. Or you could say they just were all of a higher probability. They were out shot 9-14–omitting blocked shots, and they missed the chances that they needed to fall to come away with points.

It sucks. Life sucks.

I get that most will paint this game as one of those that should have been the Sounders and for them not to get at least a point was cheap result and one that will haunt the Sounders. I suppose that’s not far off as there is a completely possibility for the Sounders to have won this game or at the bare minimum of earned a draw. You could even blame referee Allen Chapman for “distracting” players on a very quick short corner. But it’s not as if Justin Meram had a gimme shot. That was a hell of a shot. A curler just at the top of the 18. Yeah, I’m sure you’ve done that dozens of times in your req league. But it had to get by Gonzalo Pineda and over the head of Dylan Remick, who came down on a last second attempt to clear the ball on the back post. It was an impressive finish from a wide player who has scored a career six goals across 61 matches.

Also, credit Federico Higuian with a heads up play to take advantage of Chapman and the Sounders not paying attention. I believe that he’s pretty much the front liner for MLS MVP at this time but I also thought Mike Trout should have traveled back to LA with the MLB version of the same award. Regardless of if he wins any personal hardware this season, he’s a blast to have in the league and I like him a lot more when he’s not playing the Sounders.

Overall there was still a lot of positives, as there frequently is from a game that was evenly battled by both teams. Here are my top-3 players of the match and as most thing like this, it’s subjective so if you disagree… well you disagree.

– Ozzie Alonso: 100 touches, 46/51 pass attempts, one key pass, 11 recoveries and three interceptions.

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Ozzie was so, so, so good. He shut down Higuian the entire first half and it was grand. The Honey Badger limited the man from Argentina to 2 shots in the first. This compared to the four shots and, really, the three back-to-back-to-back situations that occurred a long the 78th to 83rd minute which you could attribute to the fact that the Sounders were playing with only 10 on their side.

– Gonzalo Pineda: 99 touches, 37/48 pass attempts, two key passes, nine recoveries and one interception.

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I’d love to temper your thoughts on Pineda but I’m having problems doing so myself. I like him. I like him a lot. It’s like discovering Grape Jelly all over again. The sweet compliments to peanut butter. That’s what he is to Ozzie Alonso. Together they are peanut butter and jelly and it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. Also, I’m allergic to wheat so screw you Adrian for making me want something I can’t eat. Off to the store to find some Udi’s White Bread.

– Lamar Neagle: 75 touches, 19/25 pass attempts, one key pass, four shots (three on target) and six recoveries.

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Now, I specifically choose Neagle over DeAndre Yedlin or Chad ‘Air’ Marshall (who both had very good games) on purpose. There are people who are saying things like “he just needs to finish those chances.” The problem with that is that finishing isn’t even necessarily a discernible skill analytically speaking, and while I haven’t really developed my own thoughts on the subject I’m inclined to believe that he’ll eventually recover. He’s like the less loved Dom Dwyer. No, you know what? He is the less loved, less appreciated Northwest version of Dwyer. If Peter Vermes ever got his hands on Neagle he’d turn him into a star and every person bitching about his goal conversion rate now would then be bitching about how yet another Seattle sports player gets better when he leaves. It’s enough to give me an aneurysm.

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Now, for all those bitter and frustrated — save it all for next week when our beloved Rave Green heads down south to Providence Park to play the team we all love to hate the most, the Portland Timbers. Given the fact that Portland has yet to win a game you know that this one is kind of a biggie for them. In fact the lumber losers have compiled all of two points and three goals through four matches while surrendering six total goals this far. It’s not been great for Caleb Porter as he appears to be going through a rather awkward sophomore slump. I for one would love to continue to see them falter and take a little revenge on last November where the Sounders were eliminated from the MLS Playoffs in tragic fashion.