Never say die and all that stuff. Yeah. I guess 90% is showing up or something right, so they get credit for that?
Whatever the reason, we saw an utterly understaffed Quakes team that left us to pick the bones off the carcass. Now, it didn't quite work out that easily, but it was mostly one way traffic as SJ seemed to ride the brakes into the final third.
We will need a bit more killer instinct against Vancouver next week, but the defensive showing was promising in shape and will hopefully contain the high-octane Whitecaps.
Moving the Posts In: Nigeria
At least the World Cup squad. Their lack of an Oba is our gain, but how do you not reward this guy? I understand the whole "form is temporary" deal, but it’s not like he’s lacking in class. The man has had enough for the last season and a half for us to show for almost any WC squad save the top 4 or 5. He has the effort, the skill and the selflessness to add to any squad and it's sad that he won't be seeing the biggest stage in the world.
Really though, this is just a space to praise Oba and his team play through the first third of the season. The man has had his rough patches, but they’re not from lack of effort. If anything, it’s from trying too hard to make something out of nothing. His assist tally reflects that attitude. He is constantly harassing defenders, dropping into midfield to find the ball, and creating opportunities for others. Oh, and he scores a few goals along the way.
Here’s to hoping that Oba is going to make his point and play his own World Cup here in Seattle, showing Nigeria exactly what they’re missing.
Obachips, that's what they're missing. Obachips.
Moving the Posts Out: Squad Depth
Here it is, the moment of truth. We’ve seen what squad depletion and international call-ups can do to your squad when we clashed with San Jose. 16 players named to the squad in total which admittedly does include an inordinate number of injuries.
The question as it pertains to us; how will the Sounders deal with losing their 1 and 2 RB on the depth chart and the league’s leading scorer? Well, so far it doesn’t look so bad.
It may have been a 1-0 game against a stripped out Quakes XI, but it’s still an MLS game with MLS players so anything can happen.
What we saw was a solid back 4, potentially as solid as we’ve seen all season. Anibaba was a solid defender on the right side and played within his self. Zach Scott was aggressive all night with some very strong (and clean) tackles, and paired with Marshall, didn’t allow anything through the air.
Through the middle, we haven’t lost too much in creativity. Martins and Pappa pair well and Neagle will always be dangerous in his own way. Alonso making plays from further back has always been a constant, and while we wait for Cuba to sign him over to the USMNT, he won’t be going too far any time soon.
Up front, Cooper would find himself starting on half of the MLS squads in the league. If he can find his groove and can play in the space Oba vacates by occupying opposing CBs, he will have some looks on goal.
This doesn’t even begin to get into our bench where we have an ex-USMNT ‘keeper, Bowen has begun to show his prowess from the wing in reserve games, and Chad Barrett has been dangers all season as a super sub.
So how will Seattle fare? Only time will tell, but for now the road ahead looks promising.
Kudos to Adrian for putting together a team that has serious depth that hasn’t been seen by Sounders fans before. This will hopefully see us continue to gather points through the World Cup, as well as excel through the US Open Cup. I think we have all the reason in the world to believe in a deep run in both tournaments.
In Range: Osvaldo Alonso
I haven’t had much to say about Ozzie through the season. We’ve discussed the issues he and Pineda have had balancing offense and defense, but I’m of the opinion that this has a bit more to do with coaching (much like the Yedlin situation going forward) than the two not quite managing their responsibilities. During the San Jose game, I did notice that the two were doing a fine job of filling the space ahead of the back 4. It seemed to support the theory that they’re just doing what they’re told.
With that said, the man has been the same wrecking ball we’ve loved since season one, but now with a top hat a monocle. He does everything just as before, but has passed beyond his cutoff sleeves jean jacket rebel phase and has decided to trade it in for J. Crew and the Wall Street Journal. The man wins the ball, never loses it, and long or short, the passes find their target with astounding accuracy.
It’s truly been a joy to have him in the midfield these last 5+ years. He has become so automatic, his movements almost choreographed to make his opponents look silly and his teammates look like positional Einsteins.
Against San Jose, 90% passing rate from 81 keeps him on point to have similar numbers to his last few seasons as one of the highest passing players, with the highest success % last year in the league. I wish his shooting accuracy could edge a bit towards his passing rate, but he’s always been one to put his whole leg into the ball which unfortunately also puts them a bit high. If he could find a way to do that, other leagues would almost certainly be calling (so maybe *selfishly* it’s for the best).
Another solid season thus far, and hopefully another half decade or more to see Ozzie win a few more cups with us in Seattle.
From the Half Way Line: Arlo White
Oh how I miss thee. As I’m writing this, I’m listening to the second half of the San Jose game. Arlo, who has been removed from the MLS for some time while fully engrossed by his BPL duties with NBC, just dropped Cordell Cato knowledge on me – the only goal Cato scored in rave green was against San Jose in the US Open Cup to help us progress. Now, I may have known that, but how did he remember that? Of course he did research, but that’s the thing; we all know he does research to be able to throw these things in, but how does he always seem to pull them out at just the right time, as if it’s just passing conversation. He seems like the type to never have an awkward silence in any conversation. It was refreshing to hear him again calling for the Sounders. It’s a shame that he had to go and progress in his career (what about meeeee whaaaaaaaaaa), but it has been nice to see him take off and now cover the most popular league in the world. His skills are befitting of such a stage. Please come visit us again Arlo. Next beer is on me.