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Goals will come: Sounders insist they ‘trust the process’

Sounders finding positives in way they’ve dominated games, even if it’s not reflective in the scoreline.

Last Updated
3 min read
Kayla Mehring / Sounder at Heart

RENTON – Through two games, the Seattle Sounders have generated the second most shots per game (19) and have had the ball 56.6% of the time (third most). Only four teams have touched the ball inside the attacking penalty area more often than the Sounders (58), and only D.C. United has won possession more often in the attacking third (18 times). From a tactical perspective, the Sounders are doing a lot of the things they’ve set out to do.

That’s all been rightfully overshadowed by the one thing they aren’t doing: scoring goals.

Granted, it’s only two games into the season, but the Sounders are one of just one of five teams who have yet to score a non-penalty goal.

“It’s easy to be frustrated with not scoring goals, not getting clear chances, breakaways, things that we’ve normally gotten early in a season,” Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan said. “Maybe that’s something we need to work on. We haven’t been able to get those chances off defensive work rate. That’s something we need to work on and just being a little more savvy in front of goal and being more clinical.”

To help address the issue, the Sounders spent all of Tuesday’s training session working on various finishing drills.

“We want them to get as much repetition in front of goal as possible,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said, while acknowledging that the players are doing a lot of what’s being asked. “We were that close. It was always the buildup, the 3-2, where we wanted people.

“I thought we had some really good movements, but we’re missing that final piece of quality inside the 18.”

One area where Schmetzer admitted to having some second thoughts is in the way he’s used his bench. Against Austin FC, he only used 2 of a potential 5 subs. Preseason standouts like Dylan Teves, Paul Rothrock and Danny Leyva have yet to even get on the field in either of the first two games.

“That was a personal reflection in the first two games, yes,” Schmetzer said when asked about his use of subs. “There are times I wish I had put on another set of fresh legs.”

Schmetzer also wanted to give Austin FC some credit for the Sounders’ struggles. Austin didn’t seem very interested in attacking, but they did defend hard and were willing to sacrifice their bodies. Austin finished with nine blocked shots.

Frustrating as that may all be, Roldan also pushed back on the idea that the Sounders weren’t enjoying themselves.

“We’re having a lot of fun moving teams around and having to defend less because the ball is in their half,” he said. “That’s the fun part, having the ball. I think we’re enjoying that. But having fun and scoring goals and putting balls in dangerous areas is what we need to work on. Our crosses don’t need to be floating, they could be whipped in and it’s a little more difficult for their defense. That will lead to better results.”

From the outside, this all feels very familiar. The Sounders scored just 41 goals last year – the fewest they’d ever scored in a 34-game season – and they suffered long stretches of offensive futility.

Most of the preseason was spent attempting to address that. Roldan believes that work will eventually pay off.

“You look at the table, you look at the scoreline and these are the things that can get you frustrated,” he said. “But you go through this process a lot in a year. We talked about the lulls of winning and losing; it’s all part of the game. We don’t let it get us too stressed because we know we’re doing things right and the goals and results will come. When it’s not coming for extended period, that’s when you start stressing and things might have to change dramatically. But for now we believe in the process and we’re in a good spot and hopefully we take advantage of being in front of goal.”