This past weekend the Seattle Sounders traveled to face the Houston Dynamo in hopes of striking it rich. "There's oil down there in that Texas soil, there is," they claimed, but nobody believed them. For far too long the Sounders shed blood and sweat in a losing battle. Their detractors would call them fools, tell them that they didn't know what they were doing, that they'd make a fool of themselves and be laughed out of town. And for a while, they were right.
It took 94 minutes to realize their dream, and as a result, everyone went home happy, all but their detractors. But should they have gone happy? Are the Sounders truly rich? Or was this just a few golden flakes in a pan?
In sports, the attitude surrounding a team doesn't just go from being a perennial contender to the worst team in the league overnight. The public perception takes longer to adjust to the new reality. We look at the similarities between the two entities, the Sounders of the past and the Sounders of the now, and we compare, noting that whatever differences exist are slight, therefore they must fundamentally be the same team. As a result, we attach the same level of expectations we did on previous incarnations, whether that is fair or not.
Without labeling a team as rebuilding, this is a natural thing for fans to do. The core remains the same, with parts added and parts lost, and the sum of those parts seem to be a positive, so why shouldn't the team continue to be a contender? It makes sense. But the sad reality is that through the first five games of the MLS season, the Sounders just aren't very good. Their defense is solid, and that's kept them in games, and a solid defense cannot be understated. The offense though?
It feels like Houston did Seattle a favor during Sunday's second half. They just opted to stop playing offense and protect their one goal lead. Owen Coyle probably said at halftime that they can't have every game be a shootout, that at some point in time they're going to have to win a game 1-0, and that game was supposed to be this one against the Sounders.
Seattle, for their part, obliged by trying to actually score and by trying to take shots within the 18 yard box. It took super forward Chad Marshall until the 49th minute of the second half to poke one in. It took the reckless abandonment of Oalex Anderson and the sophisticated wiles of Hercules Gomez to turn this semblance of an offense into something viable.
I'm sure there are some who will claim that these two should start. That the Sounders should embrace this new blood and forge ahead, afterall, the offense can't be any worse than it's already looked. I've got to admit, after watching this offense struggle mightily throughout these first five games, I'm interested in seeing these two out there for more than a combined 30 minutes. However, I can't help but shake the feeling that this isn't a long term solution.
Anderson is effective because he comes in late, runs like there's no tomorrow, and through hell or high water he's gonna try anything and everything. This works sometimes. This also backfires sometimes. Jordan Morris can play like that too, but right now he's seemingly lacking the confidence in his runs, instead spending more time playing conservative, running away from goal. He just needs to turn off that part of his brain that is afraid to fail, and he just needs to go out there and play. Take shots, juke defenders, sprint as fast as possible, and while this won't always work, eventually it will, and it will open up the rest of the team to settle into this new reality.
The Sounders aren't a bad team. They aren't going to miss the playoffs. It has just been a struggle, an ugly struggle, as they find their new identity and as the players settle into their new reality. It's hard as a fan to adjust to the fact that we aren't coming into games with that swagger, with that knowledge that we should blow every team out of the water. We'll adjust, and who knows, maybe the Sounders did strike it rich late in Houston and we're about to see a new day.
I Will Always GIF You
You've always gotta be prepared for strange happenings when you enter Texas.
This first half is decidedly one-sided.
There's a strong disconnect going on with this offense.
Our defense just totally failed on that goal. Way off.
I'm just not sure what the solution is to this problem.
It'll be a long season if we keep playing like this.
This second half though, I'm liking what I'm seeing.
We tied it up? You've gotta be joking!
With that late goal the Sounders have stunned the home crowd.
They don't even know what hit ‘em.