Any result can happen at just about any time in Major League Soccer and the Seattle Sounders were victims of that reality on Sunday when they lost 2-1 to Sporting Kansas City. Heading into the weekend, the Sounders were 17 points ahead of SKC. Seattle still ended the weekend in first place in the Western Conference, but here are four things that concerned us from the performance.
Too many changes
Due to injury and suspension, the Sounders had to heavily rotate on Sunday against SKC. There was logic and reason to just about every change Seattle made, but on the whole it all looked too clunky and flat. The setup was basically the same; a 3-5-2 in possession while defending in a 4-4-2. But because of who was where, everything just didn’t work. Nico Lodeiro had work tirelessly to get from his defensive duties on the wing to being the focal point in attack. Héber was often caught between two stools, not really sure of his duties. Alex Roldán started at LB at was very lucky to not be sent off in the first 15 minutes.
The Sounders came out in the second half with players in their more natural positions but that was too little too late to mount a comeback.
Two weeks ago today the Sounders felt like they had a bit of a logjam in the central areas of their roster, so they loaned Danny Leyva to the Colorado Rapids for the remainder of the MLS season. Yesterday, Seattle was without João Paulo and Josh Atencio, which meant they had to start Obed Vargas alongside Albert Rusnák. Vargas and Rusnák are obviously talented players, but their skillsets and approaches to the game do not complement each other — or at least didn’t on Sunday. Neither of these midfielders are comfortable being the deepest central midfielder and it showed.
The Sounders started this season with a 453-minute home shutout streak. That was ended on Sunday when SKC was able to easily break down the Sounders for their first goal in the 4th minute of the match. The team and coaching staff have talked about wanting to make Lumen Field a “Fortress” again, and they’d done well to have five straight clean sheets at home. But it was the ease with which SKC was able to repeatedly break in behind the backline that gave me a cause for concern.
A fortress isn’t destroyed in a day, but taking a tough “L” to the worst team in the league at home isn’t good any way you slice it. It can be fuel for the fire and I fully expect this team to respond well.
A Cristian Roldan-sized hole
There’s no question that the Sounders have a stacked roster when everyone is fully fit. But we’re 11 games into the season and the squad isn’t close to fully fit. The cause for most concern is probably surrounding Cristian Roldan, who has missed the last few weeks with a concussion with no timeline for a return. Obviously, the primary concern is around Cristian’s long-term health and any sporting concerns are firmly secondary.
With that said, there’s a big hole on the right side of the Sounders' attack and defense. With the timeline of Cristian’s return unclear, there’s not much Seattle can do at the moment in ways of a replacement. Some sort of winger should be the target in the Summer transfer window even if Cristian returns to full health relatively quickly. In the meantime, I’d be having Ethan Dobbelaere studying film of Cristian’s role.