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A Guide to Fixing the Sounders

A broken cart needs fixing, but sometimes a not-broken cart can still be tinkered with and improved. The Sounders have had their issues and this guide is an attempt to improve the team to unknown heights.

Saving goals with his feet. Next up: hands?
Saving goals with his feet. Next up: hands?
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

First of all, are the Sounders broken? No, they're not, so let me get that out of the way in order for you to stop your whinging at that headline. What the Sounders are, in my humble and superior opinion, is incomplete. There's just something missing, perhaps intangible, perhaps quantifiable, but there's just not a whole pie when I look at the Seattle Sounders.

Surely one could look at the standings, notice a red line with the Sounders firmly below it, and flip a table or two. In fact, I suggest you do that now, just not the table you're using to hold the computer you currently are utilizing. For you mobile users, call your mother right now and say, verbatim, "I don't have much time right now, but I wanted to call you and let you know that I love you," then hang up. She'll be so worried about you and your health, thinking that you're dying or something, and so when she confronts you about it just say something about how you were thinking of her and how grateful you are that she raised you and you wanted to let her know right at that very moment how much she means to you. Now it's your turn to make her feel bad about her life decisions, and now you, mobile users, have turned the tables too.

Sorry, I got distracted. So the Sounders aren't winning every game, and it's a travesty. I mean, Prince died and everything but really all the national media wants to talk about is who now can we look toward to shred, which inevitably leads to the questions of what is wrong with the Seattle Sounders and is it fixable. I'm not going to tell you that the Sounders are without flaws. I'm not going to tell you that the fix is patience. What I am going to tell you is my unique and controversial choices I would make were I in the position to make such decisions.

Decision 1

  • Stop allowing our players to be injured.

This one is pretty self explanatory; with the salary capped nature of MLS, teams can't afford to be 2-3 players deep at every position, so when your starters miss some playing time, you're forced to look at some sub-prime options. When you're playing with the sub-primes, some BB's or even BBB's, you're running a risk. Keep in mind, it won't be packaged as a risk, but it's there, written in the language, hidden and secret, hoping that everything won't go belly-up. Sometimes though things don't always come up Milhouse. Sometimes you're a Ralph and you're hungry and there's glue in your hands and 1+1 = I'm eating glue now.

So seriously, Sounders, stop allowing injuries to happen with your players. Some of the cynical amongst us may be throwing their hands up in the air in exasperation, shouting to nobody and everybody how preventing injuries is a fool's game, an exercise in futility. Exploring that mindset, that there is a zero-some chance to ever prevent an injury from happening, then what can we do? Is there even something that can be done? Yes.

Bionics. Which leads me to decision 2.

Decision 2

  • Create a team of cyborgs.

There's nothing in the rules that says you can't have a team of human-robot hybrids. Say you're a coach in the MLS and you've got a player who keeps making dumb choices on the field. What do you do? Upgrade his processing power! Think of the possibilities! We could have super powered legs that kick the ball a hundred miles an hour with exacting precision. We could have goalies who can jump a hundred miles in the air. Wait, google is telling me space is only 62 miles away, so the goalie would need either an airsuit that protects them from low-oxygen environments or oxygen-carrying nanobots in the bloodstream.

I mean, this really is a market inefficiency that is being overlooked right now. At the very least the Sounders should have wheelies installed into the players' cleats. Maybe with Boeing in our backyard we can have some jet-engine-inspired wheelie cleats for our players. Somebody mock that up (just kidding, I already did).

afterburnermodification

Now, the technology might be quite up to standards with what we need to fully assimilate the Sounders players into cyborgs in an effort to prevent injuries from happening, so other solutions would have to be made in order to fix what ails the less than 100% Sounders, which is how we get to decision 3.

Decision 3

  • Change the formation.

soundersformationnotserious

proposedsoundersformationalsonotreal

So you can see the main difference between the two formations is that while one has a goalkeeper, the other does not. Now, I know this shift may seem slightly radical, and to be honest it is, but it comes with some conditions. The first condition is that while the rules stipulate that only one designated player can use their hands to touch the ball while in the field of play, and within a certain area, that very same player is not restricted to stay within that area for the duration of the game. In lay terms, it means that your goalie doesn't have to stay in the goal; they can play in the field.

To note, this formation shift is not a condemnation of Stefan Frei, who has matured under the Sounders to be one of the best goalkeepers in MLS. However, dominance lays within our grasp, if only we'd reach out and take it. We have a solid defense, one that will be bolstered by the return of Roman Torres. He's a MLS XI quality centerback, and he should start. There, however, lies the conundrum: our veritable riches in defense means that not all three of Torres, Brad Evans, and Chad Marshall can start. But with this new formation they can.

I propose the Sounders utilize a sweeper/keeper, and I propose that it is Brad Evans. Move Captain The Sheriff Evans to the furthest back spot, have Marshall and Torres sit above him. In front of them you have a defensive midfielder disruptor slash distributor in the middle with two wingbacks flanking that player. In front of those three you have two creative attacking midfielders who need guile, vision, and the gumption to try anything. Ahead of those two you have two speedy wingers who can run for days, both on either side of your traditional target forward.

Got it? Makes sense? Now here's how it works:

  1. Score lots of goal.
  2. Don't lose possession.
  3. If you do lose possession, get the ball back immediately.
  4. Never let the ball get into your half of the field.
  5. If it looks like 1, 2, 3, or 4 are not happening, you foul that player and you get that defense back and B-Rad back in goal for the time being where he can use his hands to save any shots.

This core concept we see all the time. Push forward and press when you lose possession, or fouling when you lose possession. This strategy is so that a team's defense can minimize its risk in getting caught in transition and giving up an easy goal.

Is this risky? Yes. But Brad Evans has been more than capable of performing any task admirably and I feel as if this would be no different. Plus the Sounders would be able to have superior numbers on attack and in the midfield at all times. Bayern Munich utilizes a similar strategy, an ability granted to them by the Übermensch Manuel Neuer. Brad Evans can be our superman.

This isn't crazy. This is visionary. This is my plan to fix the Sounders. What is your plan?

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