Sounders FC get fouled often, they punish opponents more though

Sometimes he hits the wall. Sometimes he's magic. - Brad White

Twice this season teams have set the record for most fouls against Seattle Sounders FC. What can the team do about this?

By now you're used to seeing a Sounder on the ground in pain from another foul. The club is suffering. With the skilled players on the field it is a technique being used to slow Seattle's attack. But is it really that effective? Early evidence says that it is not.

First let's look at that fouling issue a bit. Here's a great FanPost that shows that yes, Seattle Sounders FC gets fouled more than any other team, and significantly so - three more times per game than the 2nd team, seven more times than the median.

It's been a bit brutal really.

My preferred solution is not an enforcer, nor an expectation of a dramatic change in how teams play against Sigi and the boys. Instead the best way to shift this is to score goals. As a rate of how many non-PK, non-own goals MLS sides are scoring from dead balls Seattle is doing pretty well.

Rank Team Open Play Counter Set Piece Dead Ball Rate Penalty Own Goal
1 San Jose Earthquakes 2 0 3 60% 0 0
2 DC United 2 0 3 60% 0 1
3 FC Dallas 5 0 7 58% 3 1
4 Chicago Fire 5 0 4 44% 1 0
5 Sporting Kansas City 4 0 3 43% 1 1
6 Philadelphia Union 3 2 3 38% 1 0
7 Seattle Sounders FC 7 1 4 33% 1 1
8 New England Rev. 2 0 1 33% 1 1
9 Columbus Crew 5 0 2 29% 2 0
10 Houston Dynamo 5 0 2 29% 0 0
11 New York Red Bulls 6 0 2 25% 0 0
12 Real Salt Lake 6 0 2 25% 0 0
13 Colorado Rapids 3 0 1 25% 4 0
14 CD Chivas USA 3 1 1 20% 3 0
15 Toronto FC 5 0 1 17% 0 0
16 Portland Timbers 6 0 1 14% 0 0
17 Vancouver Whitecaps 7 0 1 13% 2 0
18 Montreal Impact 5 1 0 0% 0 0
19 L.A. Galaxy 6 1 0 0% 0 0

They are seventh best in set-piece goals as a rate of controllable goals scored. Seattle scores 33% of all goals over which they have direct influence from stoppages (per WhoScored data). In fact Sounders FC score from set-pieces at an equal or better total than six sides so far this year. FC Dallas and the Chicago Fire are the only teams scoring via this method at both such a rate and quantity. They are teams three and four in fouls suffered per game.

MLS coaches and players are going to have to learn. You can slow Seattle (Dallas and Chicago too) by fouling them, but what you gain can become a loss. Sure, not all fouls are in danger areas, but those that are create a threat of more things like this;


Suffering fouls in the build-up sucks. Goals scored do not.

P.S. Look at Colorado's controllable offense...

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