On a bright Sunday afternoon, while our National team rediscovered how powerful Brasil is, Seattle Sounders FC put forward their wills, their force and declared that this is a summer of soccer indeed. In front of the record setting crowd (thanks you last three people) Seattle showed that the new Dragon Army was in Green-Blue-Green, acted with discipline and the facets of the game that have been the focus of this blog are not just being addressed, but being solved.
Sanna Nyassi started for the first time since March in place of Steve Zakuani, but not in the simple manner of one man taking another's spot. Sigi used Zakuani's health as another tool in addressing the issue of the Freddyain. Fredy Montero started as the Left Winger, rather than Zakuani and Ljungberg played the forward, and foil for Colorado.
From the starting moments of the match, Sigi's Game was on display. If you don't think that wasn't a dominant performance, read what Rapids Coach Gary Smith said
I thought we deserved to get beat three to nil. In the first half we played as good as football as we have had in some time. The big differences in the game were the big plays, the goals ... Full credit to Seattle and what they are is workmen like and solid team. In [Freddie] Ljungberg, [Fredy] Montero, and [Nate] Jaqua, you have individuals who can change the game and today they did just that.
What did Seattle do to dominate?
Rapid Transition - Freddyain - Set Plays
Rapid transition, what I have called "The Enemy's Gate is Down" attacking the ball until it is possessed and then attacking the goal. Today we saw it on several occasions, not all ended in goals. This isn't a results based description but arises when the team plays the ball at the feet of their mates pushing forward or diagonally, not horizontal or dropping it back.
Here we only see the action in Colorado's half, but it is quick, it is fluid and it forces Colorado on their heels. Control of the field was in the hands of the Green with the Denver based club running backwards.
Sure, Ljungberg didn't figure strongly in the line score, but we saw the Freddyain spread apart switching from wing to forward to wing throughout the match, with occasional overlaps but for the most part with proper space. While both have solid footskills, they are different and a defenders must use different techniques. The constant switching means that the defense must always be alert to which Fred is in what space.
Sometimes that tiny moment gives the space needed to beat the one man and obtain an advantage for Sounders FC. With Brad Evans cementing himself as the Central Midfielder, if not an attacker, it frees the Wings and Withdrawn forward to continue the switching game. To quote Sigi
Our coordination was good. I thought Sanna (Nyassi) gave us a boost on the right and Montero has been very comfortable playing on the flanks. They’ve done a good job of place changing. The coordination and cohesion between (Freddie) Ljungberg and Montero has been getting better every game and when you’re an opposing defense and you have those two guys coming at you, it gives you something to worry about.
When Zakuani is healthy for the July 11th match and the Freddyain are both playing it creates not the pairing of our past conversations, but instead a triangle of opportunity.
Even without the strong corners specialist Seb Le Toux on the pitch Sounders scored from a Ljungberg ball served to the head of Jaqua and then the head of Montero. From the Confederations Cup to the dropped points by the Sounders we have seen exactly what quality Set Play work can do for a club.
Now the Sounders move their corner success rate to 3.5%. The work in practice is paying off, and there is potential for greater success particularly on the Free Kick front. As the team continues to play and practice together this may be a situation where the expansion team continues to improve over time.
The Elysian did a fantastic job of dealing with the US Men's National Team game versus Brazil. From killing their music that is normally in the background, to replacing that with the sound of the game, to even opening up their private room so that the huge TV could host more eyes on the match. Well done by their management.
Also, thank you to the Qwest Field ushers who actually helped me hang my banner today.
I have updated numbers for the Sounders, but don't have league data to tell you how they compare, but Montero has a PP90 of 1.73, and Jaqua at 1.19. Plus/Minus has Jaqua, Montero, Marshall and Evans at +9. Riley joins them with 5 Clean Sheets.
The win puts the Sounders in control of their destiny for the Shield and Cup, increases their chances at the playoffs and with the Dynamo loss places Sounders a solid July away from first.
Tomorrow, a little window into Sebastien Le Toux's post game ritual.