The Seattle Sounders lost their preseason opener to the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday, falling 2-1 before beating FC Tucson 1-0 in a 45-minute game afterward. As promised, the Sounders used a 4-3-3 throughout. Here's what we learned:
About the 4-3-3
The 4-3-3 looked functionally the same in all three periods. When the season begins, we can probably expect wide forwards, compressed mids, and fullbacks who push forward into the midfield and attack. Possibly due to the new positioning and tactics, there seemed to be a disconnect between the two foremost layers. Short passing was strong throughout but the midfield was compressed, an expected tradeoff. It's probably going to take some time for the new tactics to rub in and gel for everyone. It also appears as if this will play more like a 4-1-2-3 with two shuttling center mids rather than as a 4-2-1-3 with more of a CAM.
Jimmy Ockford was the only rotational guy who played with the first team, and while he wasn't a revelation, he made a number of important clearances to keep Vancouver off the board. At times in 2015, Ockford didn't appear to belong at the MLS level. Wednesday's performance appeared to be a step forward.
You could put a number of other guys in this space. Aaron Kovar got a goal and an assist in two stints. Roldan and Remick put in some excellent defensive shifts. Both Miller and Lyon added great saves to the performance.
Zach Mathers was a good two-way midfielder along with Roldan in the second half. His defensive stops, short and medium passing along with possession helped stifle Vancouver's transit through the midfield. Much of the game flowed through him.