May 23, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Sounders FC midfielder Alvaro Fernandez (15) looks for an open teammate during the 1st half against the Columbus Crew at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE
It's officially a slump. A frustrating, often playing better, but still slumpy stretch. In a match where Seattle Sounders FC dominated the chances created and entertained the crowd it was the Columbus Crew that seized opportunity. The Crew's two opportunities were completed. Small defensive mistakes opened that door and Columbus shut that door with authority.
The Sounders had opportunities too. They never finished. If it was a failure to complete designed plays inside the 18, or a missed header, or a free kick banged into the wall, or a stepover that runs out the endline, the Sounders had opportunities. They made Columbus make defensive mistakes too. Six times they put shots on frame. Six times they had shots blocked by defenders. Nine times the Sounders shot towards the goal.
Seattle should have had a goal or two this evening. It didn't happen. The failures were on the offense. Frustrating opportunities were missed by each of the best players in Rave Green.
Eddie Johnson noted post game, "I thought we got some good service sometimes, that final ball wasn’t there but I thought we were getting some good runs and getting some good crosses on it. Like I said, on another day, those opportunities go in."
For fans, it must be frustrating at this point. Just one earned of the last nine available.
For the players though there were many goals available. Alvaro Fernandez could have finished his header. That's a goal that changes the game dynamic. Fredy Montero was goal dangerous. Eddie Johnson was in the box. Linkage between David Estrada, Brad Evans, Mauro Rosales with the forwards generally worked. Plays were nearly good enough.
Nearly good enough.
Andy Gruenebaum had seven saves. Don't ask how he has seven saves on six shots on goal, one of those will be adjusted soon. His night was great. His defenders left him on an island a couple times. Between Gruenebaum's work and Seattle failure to convert the result was fair.
It was fair because the Sounders could not maximize their numerous chances. While their were individual defensive lapses there were collective failures with the ball at their feet. Fingers could be pointed, but there would be many pointing.
Seattle is not a poor team, but their are certainly in a slump. The goal differential and points earned in the past three matches can not be argued. Yet, there are glimpses of greater things capable. Moments of magic nearly happened. Johnson laid out flat and nearly got his foot into a hook that diverted the shot into goal. Several one-twos were close. At times Sounders players were split by the pass.
They are nearly good enough. Right now, in middle of a regular season nearly good enough might be good enough. It will not be good enough in knockout tournaments. Tonight it is frustrating, in the Open Cup or MLS Playoffs nearly will be failure.
It's a simple game - simply frustrating.