There are a few things we learned from the frustrating result Thursday. In ways they will influence how we watch and appreciate the Sounders performance on the road next Sunday. In other ways, they may be the same learnings that Sigi had in watching the film twice before an 11:30AM practice Friday.
Jaqua better facing forward - Backline five deep - Attacking up the spine works - Sounders own the corner
Jaqua better facing forward
Jaqua looks so much better facing forward. Sure he has height, but at best when a target he is an advanced pivot, but when facing forward out on the wing he has some nifty technical footwork, and enough speed that he causes issues. He has also learned the role quickly, likely due to it being the role he held back in his Chicago Fire days.
In talking to Jaqua about being a Right Mid he made it apparent that he likes not have another six footer hanging on his back and muscling him around a bit. He rather enjoys the prospect of the 1-2 pass, and the triangle play. This isn't to say that he doesn't mind contact, just that like most people he'd prefer the heavy play when he instigates. He literally laughed at his injury a bit, admittedly a day later.
Backline five deep
We learned as well that Marshall felt fully confident in his primary defensive back-up getting not a bit of warning and stepping into the match. He mentioned that he could have gone, but that he felt with the physicality of the match, and the quality of player that Patrick Ianni is allowed Marshall to have an evening off.
He also mentioned to me that when he isn't on the pitch the communication from Keller forward is more distributed. The only drawbacks are that Hurtado and Gonzalez don't have strong English skills at this time, but that Riley, Ianni, Keller and even Hurtado will command the line at times. Early in the season we didn't see this, but now the leadership is almost a group effort. Ianni may not win the headers that Marshall does, but he is a 5th starter along the backline. This is important depth while we await the report on the knee of Tyrone Marshall.
Attacking up the spine works
This is another facet where Ianni really showed his success. Maybe it was from watching tape of Geoff Cameron, or from his time when he backs up Osvaldo Alonso, but Ianni got forward quite a bit for a centerback. I refer to this on occasion as being an upback. I don't know of another term for it, but it is a centerback that gets forward. Ianni didn't score, but he was a part of the attack even though his primary role is defense.
The attacks along the spine did not end with Ianni though. We saw the Brad Evans of the early season. Not confined to the box to box role, he dove into the box taking a few shots, and working the ball laterally in the offensive third. This is the Evans that led to his selection in the Expansion Draft. That flow, backed up by Alonso between 10 and 12 yards back provided Seattle with another offensive option.
The attacks along the spine meant that at any moment Sounders had at least 7 if not 9 men in the attack. Someone will be open, eventually they will take the shot and hit the net, not the frame.
Sounders own the corner
Sounders continue to own the corner. The lack of result does not make that untrue. They outperformed Houston here, and if they continue they are bound to get a result. The same number of corners next week should result in a goal. What we also know is that the Dynamo are going to struggle to score on Seattle in the same situation, because every team does.
Seattle is potent on corners, several times Houston brought their release man back for defense, and the packed the box just a bit tighter. The league recognizes this, it is about time the fans here did too.
The Playoffs are now win or go home for the following sides - Seattle, Houston, Chicago, Columbus, Los Angeles and Chivas USA. Only Salt Lake and New England can afford a draw in the 2nd Leg.
A hint of a future stat sheet I'm going to put up - All Competitive matches top 3 minimum 15 Shots
PP90 - Levesque, Montero, Jaqua
% on Target - Le Toux, Levesque, Zakuani
% Shots becoming Goal - Levesque, Jaqua, Evans
Upcoming - Is it time to change the match day 18? What if forced to do so for health?