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Sounders vs. Earthquakes: Observations of continuing positive process

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Seattle's most recent win is a reason for hope and joy.

Mike Russell Foto

Beating the San Jose Earthquakes did not put the Seattle Sounders above the red line. They sit eighth in the West, 11th in the Shield race. The two-nil win did get the Sounders to an even goal differential which is tied for eighth in the league. It's pretty easy to see that victory as just treading water, or chugging along the train tracks of the season with such a high hill to climb.

That ignores some pretty nifty things that are happening.

Don't look now, but Seattle is a deep team

Without ever fielding an Ideal XI Sigi Schmid's team is pacing for 49 points, likely just outside of the MLS Cup Playoffs. That may not seem like success, because it isn't. The recent hot streak of 13 points in six games is. And that was done with even weaker lineups (based on preseason expected starters) than the three losses that started the year.

Seattle has averaged only eight preseason expected starters during the streak. Sigi has spread the wealth as he searches for the hot foot, copes with injuries and deals with red cards. Nineteen players have at least one start with twenty having seen the field. In Aaron Kovar's four starts the team took ten points. In Herculez Gomez' three starts the Sounders took six points.

Those two are not the caliber of Ivanschitz or Valdez, but since the two high priced acquisitions have been dealing with injuries Sigi needs someone. Those someones are performing.

Jordan Morris and Clint Dempsey are creating danger

Morris received six passes inside the 18 and Clint received seven. The two combined for five shots in the area, with Dempsey scoring on one of his two. Jordan is getting all busy with that scoring streak, but his game is more than just that. He assisted on Dempsey's goal and completed seven passes to his national team partner. Clint is looking for Jordan a bit more too. Dempsey has five passes to Morris. Three of these twelve passes were to a player in the 18, and one just barely outside of it. Clint is definitely trying to send Morris through.

Dempsey to Morris stat zone by 442

Dempsey to Morris from Stats Zone by Four-Four-Two

It would be going too far to say that they have a complete working relationship, but things are improving. They are getting sense for each other. If Seattle is going to have even an average attack the Morris-Dempsey Corporation needs to be strong. They're getting there and these improvements are happening while Seattle hasn't been shutout since opening day.

Though bailed out the defense continues to be strong

Sure, Wondo screwed up his penalty kick. Tyrone Mears nearly cost the team its second consecutive shutout. But the defense did its job. On the season they are sixth by goals against and if it weren't for the horrible performance against Colorado they would be a top 5 team in expected Goals Against.

It's a combination of things helping the defense succeed. They are middle of the pack in tackles, interceptions, aerial duels and shots allowed. Having no weaknesses helps a lot. It also helps that there are two defensive midfielders and a quality keeper.

Together the seven men responsible defense do as they did against San Jose - not allow quality shots. It's a trend on the season and one that indicates the club should remain strong defensively, even if it means they average a goal against a game.