Pretty sure I have the reason for our loss last night: Our politeness.
Sounders: No! Go ahead! Take our midfield! We're not using it! And score a goal? No! After you!
The real problem last night, though, was that RBNY came in with a game plan and Seattle never thought to challenge it. RBNY just wanted it more. They forced the bad passes and turnovers, won the 50-50 balls, allowed us the pretty play up the wings while fully knowing that our itty-bitty forwards couldn't win any aerial balls sent into the box...
The most frustrating thing about the game, though, was the fact that RBNY has now provided every. Single. Freaking. MLS side with a blueprint for How to Beat the Sounders:
1) Score early by capitalizing on that rare-yet-regular Seattle defensive collapse.
2) Throw 10+ behind the ball.
3) Foul the hell outta those Seattle guys to destroy any forward momentum. And when you can't foul, feel free to send the ball over the endline. Because, y'know, why not? It's not as if Sounders have anybody who can deliver a free kick or corner.
What's funny is, I'm not all that surprised or disappointed in this game. It's actually kind of what I expected. First, because our 2010 team has some weaknesses that were just waiting to be exposed, and second, because anybody who saw the 2009 Red Bulls expected a walkover. But anybody who saw the 2008 Red Bulls expected something like this.
Red Bulls '08, remember, are the team who squeaked into the playoffs in 8th place, then somehow managed to make it to the final. And in their wake they left a bunch of teams who were scratching their heads and saying, "Waitwaitwait. We played BETTER! All the stats say so! How the hell did we LOSE?!?!"
Think Real Salt Lake, who managed 24 shots in the Western Conference finals, vs. RBNY's 11. And yet somehow RBNY managed a second-minute goal, which allowed them to play their defensive game just the way they wanted and to hold out for the win.
And more than that, the 2010 RBNY actually looks like a credible counter-attacking threat. At least occasionally.
So...yeah. Seattle. Twenty-eight more games. Twenty-eight games in which to figure out how to win balls against aggressively defensive teams, how to capitalize on set pieces, how to recapture the midfield...
And...oh, yeah. How to score goals.