In Seattle's thrashing of Chivas USA the Sounders defense gave the Goats opportunities. On shots from within the 18 (MLS average ~20% conversion rate) Chivas converted only one of their sixteen attempts. Those attempts are somewhat evenly scattered throughout the match timeline. Things could have been different. But it isn't just due to good fortune, as Robin Fraser's side has finishing problems. That was not part of the plan.
"It's tough to prepare against a team like that," Jeff Parke explained at Monday's practice. "A lot of the guys that they played weren't exactly the ones that we thought they were going to play. Also, they threw a little bit different of a formation. It was an end to end game, so it wasn't something where you can say 'if it starts getting stretched out this is what you do.' We did what we had to do and got the points. It wasn't the easiest game even though it was 6-2 in the end. It could have gone either way."
The defense knows that a different result could have come from their performance. After reviewing the film it became more clear. Passing lanes were open. Attacking players had space. Could the issues have been focus?
"I don't know that we did the best job. At the end of the day, when you watch the film, we gave up a lot of chances," Parke explained. "If they'd capitalized it would have been a totally different game. Maybe that would have put a lot more pressure on us. It's a tough task sometimes, but that's our job - to stay focused whether it's four-nothing or five-nothing. At the end of the day we didn't make it easy on ourselves by any means."
Chivas' passing within the attacking 18 got better as time went on and the score came further out of hand, but that wasn't by design. It is a lesson that Parke hopes to take forward.
"We can defend better," Parke says. "We can be stronger. We can maintain our shape. We can be better at pressuring on the ball."
That's something to think about right there. A defense that gave up one goal in the run-of-play and participated in a 6-2 blowout is looking for ways to improve.
Jeff Parke says that this is the time of year when teams start to look at the scoreboards a bit, but "we also have to remember that it's one game at a time. We have to worry about us. The rest of the teams are doing their part and we have to do ours. We have to focus on us and get ourselves in better shape, clean up some of the mistakes and do better on the full 90."
It's nearly that time of year when good isn't good enough. The Sounders know it. It's about to get...