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Review: Sounders lose to Red Bull 1-Nil

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MLS classifies every goal scored into the following categories - Open Play, Cross, Rebound, Own Goal and four types of set-play - the Corner, the Penalty, the Direct Kick and the Indirect. About 22% of all goals came from what could broadly be labeled Set-Plays.

Seattle, last year, was actually a good MLS side in those situations. They scored 7 goals on Set-Plays (all corners) and gave up two (1 Penalty, 1 Indirect Free). Sounders scored on corners at twice the league average; 4.19% v 1.98%. Many thought that Seattle had a Set-Play problem at the end of last season, and they see the coming of Blaise Nkufo as the answer. I saw a team that was much better than its contemporaries, one that followed a non-traditional path to scoring on the corner and while not satisfied, I did not see the lack of "Target" as large issue.

Sigi, in the short term, will be working on Set-Plays after last night.

It's the beauty of the game for the fans that statistically sometimes you can dominate the game and you come out with nothing at the end of the day that's the way soccer is more so than any other sport. For sure I thought we had some good opportunities. Coundoul came up with a  couple of big saves, the one on Zakuani and the one that he went up to his left. Ljungberg had a good opportunity with the header. We had a ton of corners, we had a ton of free kicks, we need to be more effective on those things so that's something we've got to make sure we go to the training ground and make sure we become more effective on that. I'm not displeased with our effort, I'm not displeased with our ability to get forward but I am displeased with our ability to finish.

I'm actually not worried about the Set-Play situation. If the Sounders get 10 corners a game they will win a vast majority of those. If they give up four, they are highly unlikely to have the opposing team score. So while yes, that was why the Sounders lost last night. That was not the biggest problem of the evening.

Lack of Discipline on Offense Late

Seattle has a few players who can beat a guy while they have the ball at their feet. If this sounds familiar it is because you read this site. Steve Zakuani is amazing, as is Ljungberg. Alonso, Gonzalez and to a lesser extent even Evans and Montero are capable of the technical and creative work that means they can make a 6 on 6 a 6 on 5. They can reduce the amount of men behind the ball, and usually do it at speed.

But, as the game got on in time Seattle's Defenders, and even Central Mids stopped passing the ball forward in the 1-2 technique which we all love, and instead turned into the direct game by passing the midfield. Yes, Zakuani was up top, as were Ljungberg and Montero with a dash of Levesque/Noonan, but the Sounders are strongest running an Arseanl/Barcelona style ball on ground offense.

Instead they turned into Hull City, punting and praying. The punt and pray has its place, but is usually most effective for a side that is outclassed, lacks midfield talent or with about 10 minutes left in a match when the team is down. The Sounders turned to this strategy early and those 50/50 balls just weren't won with enough regularity.

Montero's Work on the Left

When Zakuani is on the left we have come to expect magic. While it may not always wind up with a goal, or even a shot on goal, we know that he will penetrate and threaten. Last night, after Zakuani left we were subjected to Fredy Montero working the left wing. It wasn't pretty, and that isn't just because of the change of styles of player.

It seemed to me, and those around me (Aaron), that Montero kept folding too far centrally. This meant that the Red Bull defense could cover two men with one, because the distance between Montero and Nyassi just wasn't great enough. Several switches from right to left sailed over Montero's head as the passer had to get the ball to a position where it was not to be contested.

Montero doesn't have these positioning problems when on the right, and until he figures out how to convert his ability to shift his style to the left side in practice I hope I don't see long periods of it in matches again.

Quest for a Right Wing

It is still going. Roger Levesque had a decent game one and missed two clear scoring opportunities. Last night he was less effective. Pat Noonan had his opportunity, and while some are considering it good I saw a clogged right elbow with Ljungberg, Noonan and Riley too tight. The plays just broke down as the lack of space meant that passing lanes were shut down.

Hopefully that is just chemistry, as Noonan is new to the club. He also knows that he had an issue with it.

It's a learning experience. Before the game, I was kind of asking around, seeing that there was going to be some movements and adjustments. Freddie [Ljungberg] likes to hop out wide so just trying to get into that rhythm of finding holes and getting out of the way when Freddie comes out wide or whatever it might be. You try to go out there and try to be creative and I was trying to get some crosses in, maybe get some chances, and get some shots on goal or something

But there is tight competition there now. A battle between an MLS veteran, a former USL veteran, a young international, a 2009 4th round pick and a 2010 1st round pick. All have different strengths, all bring different skills. All have certain weaknesses. All will likely start in the Reserve Game on Monday.

Stats

 

Goals by Period

1

2

Tot

New York Red Bulls

1

0

1

Seattle Sounders

0

0

0

Scoring Summary:

NY -- Macoumba Kandji 1 (unassisted) 21

New York Red Bulls -- Bouna Coundoul, Jeremy Hall, Mike Petke, Tim Ream, Roy Miller, Dane Richards, Seth Stammler, Joel Lindpere, Sinisa Ubiparipovic (Danleigh Borman 79), Macoumba Kandji (Conor Chinn 89), Juan Pablo Angel.

Substitutes Not Used: Andrew Boyens, Austin Da Luz, Tony Tchani, Juan Agudelo, Greg Sutton.

TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (Juan Pablo Angel 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Macoumba Kandji 2); FOULS: 22 (Macoumba Kandji 6); OFFSIDES: 3 (Macoumba Kandji 2); CORNER KICKS: 4 (Sinisa Ubiparipovic 2, Joel Lindpere 2); SAVES: 5 (Bouna Coundoul 5)

Seattle Sounders -- Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Tyrone Marshall, Leo Gonzalez (David Estrada 83), Roger Levesque (Pat Noonan 56), Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Steve Zakuani (Sanna Nyassi 76), Freddie Ljungberg, Fredy Montero.

Substitutes Not Used: Patrick Ianni, Nathan Sturgis, Zach Scott, Terry Boss.

TOTAL SHOTS: 17 (Fredy Montero 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Steve Zakuani 3); FOULS: 9 (Sanna Nyassi 2); OFFSIDES: 1 (Freddie Ljungberg 1); CORNER KICKS: 12 (Freddie Ljungberg 11); SAVES: 3 (Kasey Keller 3)

Misconduct Summary:

SEA -- Freddie Ljungberg (caution; Reckless Foul) 10

NY -- Mike Petke (caution; Reckless Foul) 35

NY -- Macoumba Kandji (caution; Reckless Foul) 62

SEA -- James Riley (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 63

Referee:

Kevin Stott

Referee's Assistants:

-Darren Clark; Hector Vergara

4th Official:

Tyler Ploeger

Attendance:

36,066

Time of Game:

1:52

Weather:

Showers-and-44-degrees

Notes

Nearly 40 people showed up for the prematch gathering as we watched Butler beat Michigan State, talked about the upcoming match and shared beverages. Thanks to all that came.

I will be doing a Klieg Light on Steve Zakuani

Seattle is tied for 7th on a single table by Points Per Match. Real Salt Lake and New England are the other clubs with 3 points in 2 played. RSL has a +2 GD.

There were far too many announcements, commercials and other audio/video interruptions during the run of play last night. Those events need to be tighter in time, lower in volume and have their timing of airing controlled by someone who actually knows the game.

Once a Metro's match review "Defense and Kandji's Timely Goal Have RBNY off to a Dream Start"

What are your thoughts on the match? Did you see the new formations graphic that debuted in the gamethread last night?

Lastly, what tier would place the Sounders in at this point?
Tier One "Teams Contending for a Cup"
Tier Two "Teams Likely in the Playoffs"
Tier Three "Teams on the Outside Looking In"
Tier Four "Teams that suck"

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