One of my favorite lines ever. And oddly more appropriate for the Sounders awakening from their struggles than anything else. In baseball they call it "Building Up the Middle," and it is the age-old philosophy that the most important positions are C-P-SS-2B-CF.
In soccer we'll just call it "The Spine."
You've seen this in comments lately, but let's lay it out a little more thoroughly.
First, what does it mean when I'm talking about the spine? We're talking not just about the Center Mids (of any variety), but also the Centerbacks, Center and Target Forwards and even the Keeper (but only a little bit, unless Keller is reading this, then I'll change the order).
And maybe from that description alone you'll understand where this post is headed.
Let's look at the season in 3 sections
|Healthy and New||3||0||0||3||3||3|
In that first section we have the time when the team was without Nate Jaqua and couldn't find a Target Forward to save its life. It was essentially an average MLS team done in by a few bad referee calls, and some awful set play defending.
Seattle wasn't awful then, just under-performing. Life without Jaqua was rougher than people thought.
Then the mega-thrust quake struck - Alonso, Hurtado, Evans, all went out with injuries. And still no Target Man.
While the Goal Differential wasn't as bad, the results were much worse. We, the fans, had little hope for the season. It was a loss. There were a few signs that things could improve. Yes, Nkufo would show up, and eventually players would get healthy.
But look at how good things have gotten. Within the last four MLS matches the centerback pairing has shifted to a fairly strong Parke-Ianni pairing, Osvaldo Alonso has returned to the lineup, Nate Jaqua (Man of the Round U.S. Open Cup) has returned and Blaise Nkufo has taken the pitch in the Rave Green.
Not only did things get better. They've gotten much better.
Sounders fans have a Fan Confidence level slope that corporations would kill for in their profit projections. Three games, three wins.
And, we're at the point that a tie, or even two don't end our hopes. It is practically expected. Jake pointed this out. What he didn't point out is that Seattle has a relatively easy schedule coming up with six matches against teams trending lower than Seattle.
Like most most vertebrate's the Sounders are better when they have a spine. With Keller, Nkufo, Alonso, Parke and Ianni they are in a much better place than they were last month.