Sigi Schmid's sides tend to do better in the second half of the year. With Seattle Sounders FC those numbers are even more impressive. The 1.97 points per match in the previous four seasons' second halves is strong accomplishment. Dropping points to Colorado means that the club now needs a full 2 points per match to match that number in 2013. That is also a rate that should equal an MLS Cup Playoff spot. Missing those with 57 points would be stunning.
Why are these teams better in the latter portion of the year? It's part of how Schmid leads.
"It's a reflection of our team getting a chance to settle in and get to know each other. That's always something that becomes better. In all my years of coaching I've had I've generally done better in the second half of the season than the first half of the season," Schmid explained Tuesday. "My philosophy is that is that we're not going to become drill masters. We're just going to work hard and try put things into our game that become permanent parts of our game."
Being less rigid means that it takes time for a team to form, to play with a specific style. Plans A & B to get goals coming from philosophy rather than sequence will take time.
"This year's been a little more difficult," Sigi expounded, "but I expect us to have a better second half as we get more and more of our starting lineup out on our field consistently."
Outside of trauma/contact injuries this year's injury rate is on par with other seasons.
Fitness coach Dave Tenney: "You'd never believe it, but we're still on pace to have fewer games missed due to muscle injury than last year."— Joshua Mayers (@joshuamayers) July 23, 2013
Evans is back. Ianni is back. Rose is back practicing in full. That's three of the preseason 18 returning. Joseph and the two keepers are also still out. Zakuani is doing ball work again. A boost in squad strength could be just a couple weeks away.
But with a season that's seen enough injury and squad rotation are there other reasons to think that the club is on its way to a surge?
Probably. Over the last six matches (an unimpressive 2-3-1) the club is creating chances at a slightly greater rate (~1 attempt) than they have on the full season. If you remove the egg laid against Salt Lake they've done so at a significantly greater rate (~3 attempts). The offense is getting better (that five match sample would be seventh best on the year), though still not finishing at a good enough rate.
A recently slumping forward core may just need to shoot themselves out of their funk.
"The last couple games I've been saying I haven't had any shots from outside the 18. It seems like we keep trying to pass our way into the back of the net," Lamar Neagle agreed. "We just need to have a couple shots from long range and that will draw defense out so that we can get those smaller passes in behind them. We definitely need to take a few more from outside - just get it and shoot. Anything can happen when you shoot."
With better health, more chances coming as the season continues, forwards shooting more and a weak schedule that features nine home matches of the remaining 16 the second half surge seems likely. What may not be likely is if it is going to be enough. A less than Sounders average PPM could put the club at fifty points and staying at home during the race for MLS Cup.