As the Seattle Sounders are learning to their chagrin in the early phases of the MLS season, game film from periods of playing with only 10 men is all but useless from a tactical standpoint. Cristian Roldan and Brian Schmetzer also didn’t much like what they saw in the 40 minutes of usable footage generated from Saturday’s 1-0 loss to the Montreal Impact.
Roldan said the team looked too passive in the game’s early phases leading up to Kelvin Leerdam’s red card for slapping Daniel Lovitz.
“We could have been sharper,” Roldan said Tuesday. “Sometimes we are playing too lackadaisical. At home we really need to take it to a team. If we can play quick, play fast once we win the ball, we’re in a positive manner. When we start playing it through the back and when we start playing it just to keep possession, that’s when we struggle a little bit.
“When the score line is different, you play differently, but at 0-0 you still need to take it to them. First half, I thought we weren’t clean enough, sharp enough going forward.”
The Sounders haven’t been on the right side of an MLS score line since Nov. 30, when they knocked off the Houston Dynamo on a 5-0 aggregate score in the Western Conference finals. Since then, the club has been outscored 12-5 by opponents in competitive matches, with four of Seattle’s five goals coming in a second-leg beat-down of Santa Tecla in the Champions League Round of 16.
Injuries, absences and red cards have certainly played a role, but Brian Schmetzer said the responsibility for the slow start ultimately falls upon the coaching staff’s shoulders.
“We watched the film (from Montreal),” Schmetzer said Tuesday. “The more pertinent stuff for the coaching staff was the first 40 minutes. The guys never quit, they’ve played a man down now on a couple of occasions. It’s hard enough to win games in MLS, and then you shoot yourself in the foot, but the guys never gave up, that’s the good thing for me. The more disappointing thing is the way we played in those opening 40 minutes. We looked like a team that maybe wasn’t all on the same page. That falls on (the coaches’) shoulders and we’re going to correct that. We’re not going to use (any excuses), we’re just going to fix it.”
Schmetzer is too much of a player’s coach to ever indicate that the blame lies anywhere but with himself, but his follow-up suggested that tactical adaptability is a point that Seattle will need to improve upon after starting 0-3 in league play with no goals scored.
“There were a lot of different challenges for us,” Schmetzer said. “Teams have scouted us, obviously. Montreal came in with a five-man back line. It makes it a little more challenging. How do we break through when a team is sitting back in a low block with five defenders? We’ve got to figure those things out. How you do it differs on how you play. They had three midfielders in the middle of the field… if those midfielders are spread can we find Nico, maybe Magnus in between them. We just weren’t able to do that.”
Roldan and the Sounders will be hoping that they can put together a strong performance on the road against Sporting Kansas City Apr. 15, to regain the composure that has eluded the club on major stages in recent fixtures.