Let's stick to Sagarin for this, although I expect we'll see something from sidereal now that says
similar the opposite. It is odd, but the strength of schedule metric that Sagarin uses (and I'm not doubting his math) has Seattle with the 11th toughest to this point in the season.
It strikes me as odd because the Sounders have played more games (6) against top 4 teams than anyone but the Houston Dynamo. Against teams in Sagarin's top 8 the Sounders have played the most. They also have done fairly well in terms of raw points (4 from 4 draws and 2 losses) against top opponents. The have fewer than LA and RSL against the Top 4 and are tied with Columbus and Dallas. All four of those teams do have a win, whereas the Sounders have only 4 draws.
Against the top 8 Seattle is still quite good with 3 wins, 4 draws and 6 losses. Los Angeles, Salt Lake and Columbus (that's the class of the league) all have more wins, while Seattle would be tied for points against the top 8 with the Utah side.
This all would seem to indicate that the Sounders have a great schedule to end the season. This is a different team with 4 new starters and a return to the style of performance that we all enjoy. Before we get too excited about the final 9 matches though, let us remember that the Sounders haven't done well against the bottom of the league.
That is why the Sounders are where they are.
Let's look at those nine games and where Sagarin ranks them
Chicago Home & Away - 9th, rating of 2.02. Barely ahead of Sounders. This should be 2 or 3 points.
New England Away - 14th, 1.64. Should be 1 point.
Salt Lake Home - 2nd, 2.58. Should be 1 point.
Columbus Away - 4th, 2.45. Should be 0 points.
Toronto Home - 8th, 2.02. Should be 3 points.
Kansas City Away - 13th, 1.66. Should be 1 point.
Chivas USA Home - 12th, 1.71. Should be 3 points.
Houston Away - 11th, 1.72. Should be 0 points.
That would have Seattle, if Sagarin's home field and other ratings hold form (he's very good when it comes to college sports) with 11 or 12 points crossing the 40 point threshold. It will also be a very frustrating final third of the year with the team essentially 3 wins, 3 draws and 3 losses.
I guess I'll take a year in MLS with each third mark being awful, great and average. As long as we see a good run in the other cups. Of course, this all changes based on the actual play on the field.
Seattle still has questions about how to integrate St. Blaise Nkufo and which guy (Sturgis, Montano, Nyassi, Levesque, Fucito, Seamon, Estrada, Noonan, Jaqua) to play in the RW/CM with Alvaro at the other spot. Oh, and the pesky remaining issue of corner kicks. Expect those three issues to get most of our non-gameday attention over the next few weeks.