The Seattle Sounders reached a new low in their 2-1 loss to the New England Revolution. They were resoundingly dominated in attack, defense, and had zero ideas in transition play or possession. With most of their best, ie dynamic, attacking threats all unavailable until after the Copa America Centenario, there's not much of a bright side right now for the Sounders.
New England strangled the Seattle midfield
From the opening whistle, New England was consumed with doing two things: a) taking Andreas Ivanschitz out of the game completely and b) keeping Osvaldo Alonso and Erik Friberg in front of their midfield trio.
For Ivanschitz's part, the Austrian international did nothing the entire match. His 50+ minutes comprised 19 touches and an aimless stroll through the park with an ever present partner in the form of Kelyn Rowe, Juan Agudelo, or Scott Caldwell. Agudelo's movement both in defense and in attack gave the Sounders fits as he dragged Herculez Gomez around, constricting the available space for the Sounders midfielders while also unbalancing the Sounders attack to favor buildup play against the more press happy left of New England.
New England's aggressive moves to keep the play of Alonso and Friberg in front of their midfield stifled the Sounders' ability to move in transition play. From that position, the Sounders were left with little in the way of attacking options with Ivanschitz neutralized. And in a season defined by struggle, lack of ideas, and chasing games, the Sounders opted for something truly ugly.
1 in 5 passes were long balls -- the overwhelming majority of which originated deep inside the Sounders' own half -- a damning combination of pushing the ball to Stefan Frei, poor passing decisions, and play bereft of creativity. It was further a function of the distance between Seattle's lines and one of the key hallmark weaknesses of playing a lone striker formation.
On defense, the Sounders were porous all match. Their propensity to push one of their double pivot to form a secondary 4-man pressing band was matched by the movements of Rowe who transitioned easily between the Sounders' lines all match long, creating 2-vs-1 -- and 3-vs-2 overloads when Agudelo tucked inside -- in the Sounders' block. The Sounders never found an answer to Rowe and their solution to the trouble he caused was to wait until he was substituted in the 77th minute.
The introduction of Cristian Roldan just minutes after halftime did little to solve the Sounders' overall issues. While Darwin Jones was capable of providing a direct attacking outlet that the Sounders had missed for the first 80 minutes, it was too little far too late in attack paired with an unsustainable instability in defense.
The Sounders have been building a very good attacking head of steam for the past two months. The have spent the better part of that moving away from the influence of Ivanschitz, as they seem to have realized it has been relatively easy to stifle him in any position. They've used an evolving combination of Friberg, Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris to drive their attack forward using complementary pieces to facilitate the best from their trio.
On Saturday, they were again reliant on Ivanschitz and the progress they've been making the last six weeks was gone. They were forced into a strategy of playing long out of the back into a lone striker when Nelson Valdez -- the very player who excels at this type of play -- is away for the Copa America. It was the quite possibly the worst tactical situation for the Sounders could have found themselves in.
On the bright side, at least this is still a top-5 MLS defense that can keep the Sounders in the game long enough to at least sustain the hope of earning some points.
Passing maps from Squawka.com. Average position maps from WhoScored.com.