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Sounders' Offense 'Struggling' Only In Relative Sense

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Eddie Johnson is rounding into shape, which could mean trouble for opposing defenses.
Eddie Johnson is rounding into shape, which could mean trouble for opposing defenses.

There's no reason to pretend otherwise, the Seattle Sounders are not playing their best. If not for a defense that has so far been playing out of its mind, who knows where the Sounders would be.

Of course, where they are is pretty awesome. At 22 points through 10 matches, they are basically on pace for 75 points. That's currently the best pace in MLS and would also obliterate the league record for points. Not too shabby.

But this defense probably can't keep up its current pace of allowing less than a goal every other game. The offense, though, can reasonably make up the slack.

As this article at MLSsoccer.com illustrates, the Sounders have not been great passers in the midfield. There's no attempt to add any context to that in the article, but I am not wholly surprised that this could be true. Mauro Rosales, Alvaro Fernandez and Brad Evans have missed significant chunks of the season, which certainly helps explain that.

It's also worth noting that for as much as the Sounders have supposedly struggled, they are fifth in the league in total goals scored and on pace to score 44. Only seven teams scored more than that in 2011.

Clearly, the Sounders' "struggles" are only in a relative sense and that sense is a comparison to both last year and our expectations of how their offense would look this year.

The other salient point is that the Sounders' five core attacking players (Rosales, Evans, Fernandez, Fredy Montero and Eddie Johnson) have yet to be on the field at the same time during a MLS game. If anything, this is reason for optimism.

The closest we've seen to an intact Sounders attacking core was for about 15 minutes of the loss to Real Salt Lake when all but Evans were on the field. Fernandez actually looked very much like the player we expected to see. Rosales has, at times, looked like his old self. Montero and Johnson are slowly developing some kind of understanding. Evans continues to be the facilitator that lets the other guys basically do their thing.

Add Adam Johansson to the mix and you can easily see this offense even exceeding the bar it set a year ago.

As it is, the Sounders have not been the most aesthetically pleasing team. But there's plenty of reason to expect them to get better. There's a good chance that we'll see Johnson, Rosales, Montero and Fernandez in the starting lineup Saturday. Hopefully, that will just be the beginning.