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Practice Notes: Sounders focus on fixing defense

Known for their defense, the Sounders have been leaking goals at home lately.

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

TUKWILA, Wash. — The last two days of training at Starfire have seen the Seattle Sounders focus on what has become an alarming trend at home: giving up goals early and often.

The last two games at Century Link Field have seen the Sounders give up a total of five goals to the Portland Timbers and Sporting Kansas City, with three of them coming in the first half. In between those games was in impressive road clean sheet against Houston, which makes the amount of goals allowed at home all the more concerning.

Coach Brian Schmetzer has been particularly concerned with the inconsistency of performance by the team.

“This last little stretch of games, we’ve been up-down, up-down,” Schmetzer said. “Even in games themselves — second half, first half — however you want to break it up. I need the team to play consistently good for 90 minutes. That starts defensively.”

Schmetzer said this week is focused on getting “back to basics,” which has been on display through the first two days of training emphasizing defensive drills. Sounders forward/winger Jordan Morris was visibly frustrated after the game with the team’s performance in the game Sunday, particularly in the first half, and said after practice that the team as a whole needs to defend better.

“It’s a team effort, so it starts from the front,” Morris said. “If we can do a better job of cutting out passing lanes, stuff like that we’ve been working on all week, then it’ll help out the defenders as well.”

Midfielder Cristian Roldan attributed some of the issues on defense with the inconsistency of the lineups due to players injuries and call-ups and said that improving familiarity with the players and better communication should help.

“In terms of guys not playing with each other, sometimes it’s difficult because you have such a good understanding when there is consistent lineup.” Roldan said. “You understand the guy next to you and their tendencies, and what you expect from them in the game. Sometimes if it doesn’t happen, then you put in a pickle.

“In the end, they were elementary mistakes and we could have avoided it.”

The transfer window closes Wednesday at 9 p.m. The Sounders are expected to sign Argentine midfielder Emanuel Cecchini, but it’s unclear if anyone else will be added. Roldan said that any players that come in at his position he considers competition, but also a chance to improve the team.

“The way I see it, the team is getting better,” Roldan said. “Anytime you add another piece, it’s adding competition to the team so trainings are going to be a lot better. It is tough because it is a job and your job is on the line, but I see it as a motivational piece.”

Notes

Raul Ruidiaz and Victor Rodriguez continue to train in full ahead of the game Saturday, and all indications that both should be able to play some role in the game. ... Gustav Svensson and Kelvin Leerdam trained on the side as they continue to recover from injuries. ... Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez has returned from his stint with the U-17 USYNT camp. ... Henry Wingo was not present at training. He was previously on trial with Norwegian side Molde, who indicated they were interested in bringing him in on a loan.

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