Many fans have pointed out that the lack of signings is an indication that the Sounders offense will struggle again. I think this is a simplistic look at the coaching process, particularly with a coach who is accomplished at developing talent. It also ignores the trials and tribulations of expansion. From today's quotes from the coach we see that Sigi sees the same issues that we all see, and he is setting the team up to improve by improving their technique. He also sees one key player who could take a few steps forward.
We want to improve certain aspects of our game. We want to be able to play a little quicker. Not to play in a hurry, but to play quicker. We want to be able to be more aggressive in the box. So we want to gear our game towards that. So a lot of what we did yesterday in terms of making them get a shot off at a certain time. Today we were working on good diagonal runs, getting points for playing balls to be people in the end zone. It’s all about, can we play a little quicker? Can we get behind defenses? Can we be more aggressive in the final third of the field? Because obviously defensively last year we were amongst the best in the league. Offensively we can add another five, six, seven goals to our offensive production. That makes all the difference between finishing where we did and maybe finishing as Supporters’ Shield winners
Even the minor improvement he sees in five goals likely puts Seattle into first. Just 1 win is all it would have taken, and if those 5 goals are randomly distrubeted the chances that they hit the more than 1/3 of matches that ended in a draw would have been enough.
But what excites me more is that there is a focus on getting off more shots, getting faster, being more aggressive. I enjoy that game, not because it leads to more goals, but because it requires more skill and more tactical knowledge and it forces the opponent to react to you; because you have defined the game.
That's what I called Sigi's Game.
How do they recapture that?
... maybe changing the mentality of the players. Getting them to obviously make their runs a little bit sooner. The forwards understanding that the ball is going to come forward quicker, so when the ball turns over now is the time to make your run. It’s not we’re going to knock three, four passes around the back. We’ll get back into that because coaching is always like a pendulum. So trying to swing the pendulum over here where we play quicker. We’re probably going to get to the point where we’re playing too quick. Then we’ll have to swing the pendulum over and say slow it down, keep possession, hold onto it. Swing together ten passes and each time the pendulum swings back and forth you land in that happy middle point. It’s knowing when to slow it down and knowing when to go quicker. But it seems like the pendulum is always on one side or the other side. And I felt at the end of the year sometimes we were almost a little too methodical and that’s why it made it difficult for us sometimes to score goals.
In the first half of that you see that he doesn't want the forwards to wait for the ball, but instead demand the ball with solid runs and trusting their team to get them the ball. What they are expecting is a higher level of team work than we saw last season, and the way to get there is through having time together. Training together with a single coaching staff.
One of those players that the team expects more from, is a player that you and I want more from as well. Steve Zakuani is someone who can really move the team's offensive goals forward quite a bit.
We expect him to make better decisions. I think that he had a number of situations last year where he got in. Where he either got behind the defense, or he got opportunities, good looks on goals and so forth, and we didn’t always come out with the best results. So if we can get him to up that ratio to like 25 or 30 or 35 percent, where we get something out of it when he gets those good looks, that’s going to help us at the end of the day, our goal production. The other thing with Zakuani was just that we wanted to get him stronger and fitter and I think that’s something that we’re achieving right now and I think that’s going to help his game as well.
Can the team really move forward into multi-trohpy land with just more technique and a higher level of understanding? Can it acheive a 20% improvement in offense without adding a "significant" player?
It depends on where you stand from 2009. Were 2009's problems associated with a lack of talent, or a lack of execution?
I tend towards the second of those, rather than the first.