FRISCO, TX - SEPTEMBER 02: Kevin Hartman #1 of FC Dallas makes a save against Fredy Montero #17 of Seattle Sounders FC at FC Dallas Stadium on September 2, 2012 in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Steve Zakuani's return and assist should be the glory of the game. That moment put smiles on so many faces. After many long months of hope Zakuani returned to the pitch and performed admirably. September 2nd isn't a day that will be remembered as a the Sounders first ever US Open Cup win, but as the day that Steve Zakuani didn't just play, but played well and was clearly a starter. His assist was pure Zakuani. He used a quality first touch to handle the ball and his classic burst speed to break free. His low cross was vintage 2009. Mauro Rosales slid it in the net, but it was Zakuani made that goal. Steve's previous sub appearance was glorious, but a Sunday night in September will go down as the moment that he was back.
Unfortunately there was no Disney story. Zakuani did not net a game winner. The Seattle Sounders didn't even win. Against the rapidly improving FC Dallas squad the Sounders earned a road draw. A result that could easily be labeled as good, fair and disappointing. There were chances to win. There were defensive mistakes. In the end it is only a road point and the Sounders slip to 3rd in the West with two games in hand on second and fourth. It's decent but not dominating positioning.
There were numerous defensive errors. There were moments in attack where the team could not recognize the easy pass but instead looked to make magic on their own. Sunday night was a chance to declare greatness, instead the team only declared a chance. On the precipice of MLS Cup and Supporters' Shield glory the Sounder hover.
Christian Tiffert is undoubtedly a great MLS player. But he isn't quite in tune with his team. Then again, some of the plays by players on this team for 3+ years also weren't in tune. There is a slight dysfunction in the squad. It is not a dramatic thing like players refusing to pass to each other, it is instead a case of "I thought you'd know my thoughts." This is not the Borg.
They do not have the advantage of a TV camera tower view. They are players with eyes at field level. This creates problems in perception and still Seattle scores goals. They make magic happen. Greatness is there for the taking and it only takes one moment, because that's how close they are - one moment.
Defensively (let's be honest defense doesn't get respect), Patrick Ianni's two amazing clearances deserve the label as "saves." Ianni had the footwork, positioning and clearances necessary to be a player worthy of worship. His game was pure and clean. Adam Johansson also stopped some "should be a goal" moments. Michael Gspurning was the Three-Headed Dog.
This is not a "bend but don't break defense," this is a "we'll take risks and when we're right you are finished" defense. Seattle attacked out of their boldness. There were issues on their own end. It didn't matter. They made the saves that mattered. They also used the defense to spring attacks.
They teeter on the verge. September, October and November answer whether that edge was their cliff or their moment to blast into a future of greatness. A new frontier is available. Will they trust the equations, or pull back and fall short?