It was a rare regular season home-and-home series for Seattle Sounders FC as they first hosted Real Salt Lake before traveling to Utah a week later for the second and final match this season against RSL. Unlike Seattle’s most recent home-and-home playoff series, the Sounders failed to score a goal and dropped both matches, 1-0 at home and 2-0 on the road.
While the first match saw Seattle take more shots than Real Salt Lake, they struggled to create dangerous scoring opportunities and were slow on the counter-attack making them easy to defend against. Cristian Roldan said after the match that the team isn’t creative enough right now and is lacking mental toughness which has lead to late goals conceded and poor decisions in passing.
Coach Brian Schmetzer said after the match, “We need to be creating more and better chances… We had numerous chances inside the box and we can’t score. So something has to break for us; as soon as it does break I think we have more goals in this team.”
Schmetzer also brought up how its hard to fault players for taking chances and missing them and that individual mistakes have been the biggest issue for the club currently.
Roldan conceded that the road match would be more difficult to dictate the game and find possession and Salt Lake would prove him right, out shooting Sounders 18 to 5. Seattle failed to put a shot on target and even with Dempsey back in a attacking midfield role along with Will Bruin (albeit not 100% healthy), they looked woefully inept in attack. Seattle struggled to connect passes in the final third in both matches completing just 60% in the final third at home and 58% on the road. By comparison RSL completed 64% on the road and 76% of their passes in the final third at home.
For the Sounders to right the ship this will need to be a focal point for Schmetzer and his coaching staff in the coming weeks. Having Nico Lodeiro back in the lineup will be a big help although it remains to be seen how healthy his foot is and how he will react mentally to missing the Uruguayan World Cup roster and injury concerns still loom over Bruin, Handwalla Bwana, Osvaldo Alonso, and Victor Rodriguez who made his return in the 74th minute in Utah but is likely not yet 90 minutes fit.
There are a lot of bad statistics to look at for the 2018 Sounders’ campaign – eight shutouts in 11 matches, only seven goals scored, 13 players missing at least one game to injury or suspension – but the one bright note has been their defence. Through 11 games they’ve only conceded 14 goals and while most of the league has played more games than Seattle, that currently leaves them tied for second in least goals conceded. The four teams who have conceded less or as many goals as Seattle are all in playoff positions.
While it certainly feels like the sky is falling in Seattle with how poorly the season has gone, if the goalscoring dam can break there is a chance that the Sounders can begin to climb back up the standings. Sounders fans can only hope that the dam breaks before the hole is too deep to dig out of.