SEATTLE — If ever a game was lining up for the Seattle Sounders to break out of their scoring funk, this seemed to be it. In addition to being at home, the Sounders were facing a Real Salt Lake side which was allowing 2.27 goals per game and 17 goals in their seven trips away from Salt Lake City.
Instead, the Sounders turned in another punchless offensive performance, falling 1-0 on Saturday. It was the second straight home game in which the Sounders have failed to score and they’ve now been shut out in seven of 10 games overall. Even more frustratingly, the Sounders have been shut out in four of their five home league games. All of last year, they were only shut out at home twice in 19 MLS matches and came into the season having scored at least once in 15 straight at home.
The scoring drought isn’t quite at historic lows — they went 271 minutes without scoring back in 2010 — but are heading down that road. Either way, this feels about as bad of a run as the Sounders have ever endured since joining MLS in 2009.
For the first 30 minutes or so, the Sounders actually looked pretty effective going forward, and were outshooting RSL 5-0 with all of their shots coming from inside the penalty area. Then Handwalla Bwana suffered some sort of foot injury, and the game changed.
Between the 34th and 65th minutes the Sounders didn’t manage a single shot while RSL had five, including Sebastian Saucedo’s game-winner.
Three of the Sounders’ five second-half shots came during the 65th minute — including Lamar Neagle’s header that was tipped off the crossbar — and they weren’t able to create any shots between the 65th and 80th minutes.
This was an offense devoid of ideas, again, and while there’s a fair criticism to be made on the goal they allowed — Kelvin Leerdam seemed to think there was inside help when there was none — they can’t expect to win games with an offense like this.
The defense was, again, just fine
- As bad as RSL’s defense may be, they’ve got plenty of attacking talent. Aside from the goal the Sounders surrendered, RSL did not look dangerous. Stefan Frei was only asked to make a single save and RSL was only allowed three shots from inside the penalty area.
What was up with those subs?
- Having to burn subs in the first half is never ideal — and it’s something Brian Schmetzer has been forced to do far too often -- but bringing on two fullbacks when you’re hurting for offense is a strange call. Schmetzer explained that he was hoping to recapture some of that Joevin Jones-Nouhou magic when he brought on Waylon Francis to replace Bwana — which I suppose is a fair call — but bringing on Jordan McCrary so he could move Kelvin Leerdam into the attack was odd. Sure, the options were limited, but with Felix Chenkam and Harry Shipp on the bench and the offense failing to generate chances, neither move was remotely inspired.
Another new formation
- After two games playing in a 5-4-1 — a formation they’d never played before — they tried another new formation, the 4-1-4-1. The idea seemed to be to give Clint Dempsey some support in the attack, and while Bwana was on the field, it seemed to be working. Once Bwana went off, though, Magnus Wolff Eikrem was the only other true offensive player to help and it showed. Alex Roldan, Cristian Roldan, Waylon Francis and Wolff combined for just two key passes. There just doesn’t seem to be any creativity available right now.
- Dempsey has now been one goal shy of tying Fredy Montero’s team record for league goals since last year. I don’t think he’s been outright bad this year, but he’s no longer a player who can create opportunities on his own. He’s being put in a position where he’s being asked to be both the goal scorer and the goal generator and hasn’t done much of either.
Sounders (4-1-4-1): Frei; Nouhou (McCrary 67), Marshall, Kim, Leerdam; Delem (Neagle 58); Bwana (Francis 33), A. Roldan, C. Roldan, Wolff; Dempsey
RSL (4-3-3): Rimando; Acosta, Glad, Silva, Lennon; Sunny, Rusnak (Herrera 95), Beckerman; Saucedo (Kreilach 68), Baird, Savarino (Besler 86).
61’ Saucedo (Acosta)
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