Cookie Consent by Free Privacy Policy Generator Skip to content

Postgame Pontifications: No excuses

Yes it’s early and yes they’re missing key pieces, but these early results can’t be acceptable.

Last Updated
3 min read
Mike Fiechtner / Sounders FC Communications

SEATTLE – For about 85 minutes, the Seattle Sounders played mostly uninspired but reasonably effective soccer. They had not generated many chances, especially after Josh Atencio was ejected following his second yellow card in the 57th minute, but they seemed to be reasonably in control and headed for their first win of the season while holding a 1-0 lead over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday.

Unfortunately, playing that kind of soccer tends to have very thin margins, opening the door for small mistakes to have big consequences.

Those consequences came to a head with something that started innocuously enough. Goalkeeper Andrew Thomas, who had been playing wonderfully, sent his goal kick out of bounds to give the Colorado Rapids possession. The Rapids quickly moved back into the attacking third where Danny Leyva whiffed on a tackle and committed a foul at the top of the penalty area.

Đorđe Mihailović, who had a penalty saved earlier in the match, stepped up to take the free kick. He hit it nearly perfect, only for Thomas to knock it off the post and keep it out. But the rebound fell right to the feet of Kevin Cabral, who had been allowed to rush in unmarked and smashed it into the net.

The match ended in a 1-1 tie, leaving the Sounders with just two points through three games despite playing two of those at home against teams who will likely struggle to make the playoffs. It is not anything like the start anyone associated with the Sounders foresaw.

“It’s a missed opportunity for three games,” Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan said in the postgame locker room. “To only have two points is frustrating.

“We have to fix things up, make some adjustments and get guys healthy. It’s a long season.”

As Roldan alluded to, it’s fair to point out that the Sounders have been ravaged by injuries. João Paulo, Stefan Frei and Reed Baker-Whiting have yet to suit up; Albert Rusnák and Yeimar Gomez Andrade saw their first minutes of the season off the bench in this game; Nathan has missed the last two games while obtaining his green card; and Pedro de la Vega only played about 90 minutes before suffering an injury that will keep him out for at least six more weeks. Collectively, that’s five likely starters and two more top substitutes.

Still, everyone seems to recognize that’s not a valid excuse for the early results. These are games the Sounders should be winning, even if they’re not necessarily putting on a show. There’s no escaping that the Sounders generated just .29 non-penalty xG or that none of their four starting attacking players generated a single notable scoring chance from open play.

The issues plaguing the Sounders are both big and small and no one is immune to them. Through the first two matches and much of this one, Josh Atencio had been arguably the Sounders’ best midfielder. Then he picked up a rather soft yellow to start the second half, and 10 minutes later picked up a second yellow for a tackle he absolutely didn’t need to make.

Playing at home against an opponent who hadn’t won in Seattle since 2016, though, the Sounders still should have been able to find a way to win this one.

Instead, they surrendered virtually all semblance of possession, generating just two feckless shots in the second half and putting their inexperienced goalkeeper in a position to have to play hero. First it was a penalty he saved remarkably easily and then it was a free kick on which he made “one of the best saves of my life” only to watch helplessly as the opponent got the rebound first.

“Where are his teammates to help him in that moment?” Schmetzer asked rhetorically. “Why does the Colorado player get there first when we trained that two days ago? Two days ago, we worked on defending all our set pieces. That is an issue and something we can clean up.”

Roldan raised his hand as one of the culpable players.

“I already apologized,” he said. “We need to do a better job of closing that out, especially me. I’ve been here 10 years, talking about that leadership part, prior to the free kick making sure we’re addressing second balls.”

The hallmark of a championship team is not necessarily how they play when it’s all going their way. No, it’s how they grind out results when the deck is stacked against them, turning losses into ties, ties into narrow wins and certainly figuring out how to make a one-goal lead at home in the 85th minute stand up. I’m reluctant to pass too much judgment on this team until they’re a bit closer to full-strength, but in the meantime they still need to show a lot more than they have been.