Assessing the Blame: Part Two - Wide Play

USA TODAY Sports

Modern football places a lot of emphasis on wide player. Whether it is wingers, wide mids, wingbacks or fullbacks they need to be creative, cross and often are the set-play specialists. Did Seattle have enough there to beat San Jose?

Seattle Sounders FC only had four key passes in the loss to the San Jose Earthquakes. That's a rather poor number. Since the club does not use the CAM space as a CAM would creation generally comes on the flanks. Despite being the league leaders in passing along the spine in 2013 the club tends to have its most creative types out wide - Rosales, Yedlin and the now departed Martinez. There's little surprise that Seattle uses the right side of the pitch more than any third due to their shift to asymmetry in the midfield and the skills of the two fullbacks.

Creation from the flanks is not something new to the 2013 Sounders. In the past Ljungberg, Le Toux, Rosales, Tiffert (sometimes), Friberg, Zakuani and others touch the line and create chances either for others or for themselves. Now with a fullback who in the attack is more winger that should be even more so. One would assume with DeAndre Yedlin on the pitch and an injury forced shift to asymmetry that Seattle would own the wide part of the field.

Possession Seattle San Jose
Wide 67% 73%
Spine 78% 72%

They did not. San Jose used that part of the field to more advantage. WhoScored.com lists Walter Martinez (their left mid who went against Evans/Rosales and Yedlin) as the player of the game.

Rating Seattle San Jose
Wide 6.45 7.10
Spine 6.37 6.84

Sounders FC had only three successful crosses on the match. Two of those were from corners. The others showed the quite ineffective nature of flank creation on the night. Marc Burch failed four times. Yedlin failed twice. Gonzalez and Evans failed once. Mauro Rosales failed once and had all three successes, but only one was from the run of play.

In fact, though Mauro is taking more free kicks and corners now than he did in the previous two years he is slightly less effective at it. This year's number two is gone. The 2012 and 2011 leader is gone. Lamar Neagle and Burch are now set play men for the team. That's a significant weakness.

The team is not getting the creation from wide spaces. Their set plays are less effective in the attack than in the past. The wide man who said they would dive to the middle more often? He didn't do it.

While the asymmetrical nature of the midfield means that less chances will be created from one side than the past with two attacking wingers and the defense should be improved one other thing has to happen. The attacking side has to do its job. Against San Jose they did not.

There are many ways to create chances on goal. From tika-taka to bunker and counter the variance is quite large. But when a team commits to specifics in their plan they must succeed. If Plan A is flank creation (looking at Saturday's lineup it was probably Plan B) the flanks must create.

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