Three games. Three reds. Zero goals. Zero points.
It’s been a nightmare start for Seattle Sounders (0-3-0, 0 pts) this season as they lost 1-0 at home to Montreal Impact (2-2-0, 6 pts) on Saturday night. Kelvin Leerdam was sent off for violent contact in the first half as a lack of discipline continued to plague the Sounders’ season. Down a man, Seattle was still able to create chances in the final third but couldn’t keep a clean sheet as Ignacio Piatti dribbled through the Seattle defence and found a wide open Jeisson Vargas to give the Impact a 1-0 win.
Losing Leerdam was only half of the problem for the Sounders as the club is currently on their longest scoring drought to start a season. Still missing Osvaldo Alonso to injury, Seattle lacks a midfield presence to both distribute offensively and stop the ball on defence. As a result the Sounders have had to rely solely on moving the ball up the wings and playing outside-in instead of being able to work from the middle of the field and play from the inside out.
Against Montreal, too often the attacking midfield of Handwalla Bwana, Nicolas Lodeiro, and Magnus Wolff Eikrem were pushing too high, almost in line with the Montreal defenders while Gustav Svensson and Christian Roldan were sitting deep to play the ball out of the back. This left a void the center of the field making it difficult for the Sounders to mount an attack. Once they turned the ball over to Montreal there was no one in the middle of the pitch to slow down the attack and the Impact were often quickly into the final third.
With two weeks before their next match, a Sunday trip to Kansas City, Seattle have some time to find a solution. Alonso is likely to be healthy in two weeks although it remains to be seen if he’s ready for 90 minutes. While his control of the midfield should help the Sounders, the defensive midfielder known as ‘the Honey Badger’ is not one for being disciplined. That task will have to fall on the shoulders of head coach Brian Schmetzer in the coming weeks as the team prepares for Sporting KC.
If there was any bright spot from Saturday’s loss, it’s that Seattle still managed to create scoring opportunities even while down a man. The Sounders had multiple shots on target late in the match but failed to trouble keeper Evan Bush with them. Had they managed to more accurately place their shots, we could be talking about an improbable win or draw instead of their third-straight loss.
Clint Dempsey will return from his one-match suspension when the Sounders travel to Kansas City on April 15th to help Seattle find their first goal of the MLS season. It will be a difficult task against Sporting (3-1-1, 10 pts) who currently lead the Western Conference but who have also allowed nine goals to ten scored.