Otto Greule Jr
Assuming a healthy Eddie Johnson, there's plenty of reason to think the Sounders have found a weakness that should be exploited.
Anyone watching the game could probably see that Sigi Schmid wasn't just pay lip service to the idea that the Sounders created chances. It's the quality of those chances is what should really provide hope that this is the year the Sounders break their playoff drought.
The Sounders have often been accused of relying too much on crosses. It isn't that crosses are incapable of creating quality chances. As we know, when guys like Mauro Rosales and Adam Johansson are given time and space, those crosses can often be quite effective. Friday was one of those games.
The Sounders created nine shots from inside the penalty area, seven of them coming off passes from outside the penalty area. The Sounders were able to create chances from both flanks, with Marc Burch having one of his more effective attacking games. The left back had three successful passes into the box, with his best ball nearly setting up a Brad Evans goal. If not for a heavy first touch, Evans would have had a golden opportunity to get on the board.
Burch seems to have found that space mainly as a result of RSL right midfielder Will Johnson spending a good deal of the game being sucked more into the center of the park. RSL tend to play a more compact midfield anyway, which potentially matches up well with the Sounders' desire to attack down the flanks.
On the other side of the field, Adam Johansson found a good deal of space as well. RSL left back Chris Wingert was often forced into a more central attacking role to help cover for his teammates' focusing on Fredy Montero.
The best chance came from Johansson sending in a cross to Christian Tiffert, who was able to get a running start on his header. Nick Rimando, of course, made probably his best save of the night on the play, diving to his left and controlling the ball just before it went over the goal-line.
In none of the previous three meetings, were the Sounders remotely as effective at getting the ball into dangerous areas and, more importantly, getting dangerous shots on frame.
Throughout Friday's contest, the Sounders were effective in attacking the narrow RSL defense. A weakness has been identified. With a healthy Eddie Johnson, there's plenty of reason to believe those chances will turn into goals in the second leg.