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Sometimes There Are No Easy Solutions

The struggles of Mauro Rosales, with both form and health, have been indicative of the Sounders season up til now.
The struggles of Mauro Rosales, with both form and health, have been indicative of the Sounders season up til now.

This sucks. There's no easy way to put it, but that's a pretty simple way to explain the Seattle Sounders' current seven-game winless streak.

There are no shortage of possible explanations for the suckiness. The midfield has turned to crap. The fullbacks aren't providing the needed support. The usually reliable trio of centerbacks has been anything but. The goalkeeping depth might not be as deep as we hoped. The list goes on.

Finding solutions, though, is considerably trickier.

As good as it may feel to call for Sigi Schmid's firing, demand that we release any number of players or engage in endless contests of "I told you so," none of it promises to improve results in the immediate future.

The reality, whether we call it an excuse or not, is that there are no easy solutions to the mess the Sounders find themselves in.

Part of the problem, whether we want to call it an excuse or not, is that the Sounders have been absolutely decimated by injuries. Just to put it in perspective, Fredy Montero, Jeff Parke, Marc Burch and Zach Scott are the only four players who were expected to play significant roles that have basically been available for every match up until now.

The defense, in particular, has been particularly taxed. Leo Gonzalez, Patrick Ianni and Michael Gspurning have each missed more than half of the season. Jhon Kennedy Hurtado has missed four games through a combination of injury and suspensions. Even Osvaldo Alonso has been forced to miss three games because of various suspensions. It's all forced them to use 11 different defensive combinations this year.

In the case of Burch and Scott, that has led to them playing much more significant roles than just about anyone had in mind. This is probably one of the deepest teams in the league, but no team is structured to just roll through these kind of issues without missing a beat.

Perhaps their struggles in the back should not be all that surprising.

The midfield has not been in much better shape. Last year, the midfield was the engine that really made the Sounders offense roar, contributing 33 goals in MLS play. This year, they have just two or about 12.5 off of last year's pace.

That falls primarily on the lack of production from either Alvaro Fernandez or Mauro Rosales, who have both dealt with injuries themselves. A year after combining for 14 goals and 14 assists in MLS play, the two Designated Players have combined for one goal and five assists. Clearly, not good enough.

Brad Evans also hasn't been his usual self. Although he's managed to remain mostly healthy, at least in comparison to the rest of the team, he has just one goal -- on a penalty. While his ball-winning and ability to connect have at least been adequate, he has not had much influence on the offense. Against the Timbers, for instance, he had two quality chances and was unable to do much with either.

The one area of the team that has been productive is forward, but even that seems a bit lacking. The 14 goals are well on pace to surpass the 18 the position scored in 2011, but Fredy Montero has yet to find the kind of sustained form we know he's capable of.

Of course, knowing all of this doesn't make it better, either. In talking to Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer today, he acknowledged that explanations are fine and good, but that he and everyone else involved on the team are judged by results. Fans have a right to be upset and frustrated.

What we shouldn't allow ourselves to do is reach for the easy solutions. Yes, some personnel change is almost inevitable. There might even be some big-name additions and subtractions.

But the bulk of the fixes will need to be determined by the core of players already here. For better or worse, that's the way it's going to be.

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