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Ship’s Log, March 18: Game state doesn’t have to be a dirty word

When the game state is in a team's favor they can either retreat or accelerate into opportunity.

Last Updated
4 min read
Mike Russell / Sounder at Heart

Goals aren’t common in soccer. You know this. You’re a Seattle soccer fan who is watching at least one team not scoring enough. Part of the reason goals are uncommon is because of game state.

An early goal shifts the approach the scoring team takes – all too often they’ll become a shell. It also shifts the behavior of the other side, frequently they become more urgent.

Looking at the Sounders match you can see the game state and subsequent shifts in performance just in the Gameflow chart.

The early goal nearly crushed Colorado. They were as listless as Seattle, who had homefield and a goal. And then the Atencio red card enabled the Rapids to spring forth and dominate. That 30 or so minutes of dominance rescued them a point and luckily for Sounders fans didn’t result in a loss.

Additionally, the Sounders went up, but didn’t really take advantage of Colorado lacking life. They didn’t pounce our accelerate. They just kind of existed.

Soccer doesn’t have to be played that way.

Sunday’s Reign match shows the attitude and effectiveness of a team with the instincts to crush an opponent (even though they didn’t).

There was more pressure and attempt on goal from Reign.

Spirit were even more lifeless than the Rapids. And Reign didn’t allow the D.C. team to gain a breath or hope. They were smothered.

Whereas the Sounders were lucky to draw there wasn’t really a doubt from Reign. They were the better team for the 90+forever that they played. The Sounders were only the better team for about 15-20 minutes in the late first half.

And they didn’t feel like victors or champions or the giants that they have been.

It’s not really organizational. Defiance saw the game state of their vibrant nil-nil change when Austin II was red carded. They then proceeded to throttle the south Texas side.

Game state doesn’t have to dictate the emotional weight of a match. The phrase is merely a short hand for talking about tactical shifts, not necessarily emotional ones.

But the emotional game state right now isn’t good. It doesn’t focus on punishing opponents for errors. It’s a safe situation where the team doesn’t throw itself at threatening goal constantly.

Injuries and absences exist. Those don't prevent a team that had times of opportunity from not maximizing those.

Attitude does. When the game state shifts to the Sounders favor on Saturday they have to push the pedal to the floor and accelerate into their advantage. Or they can just wait for the other team to wake back up.

– Dave Clark

Catching up on Sounder at Heart

Missed the weekend's Puget Sound soccer news? Here are our latest stories




Midweek pro soccer schedule

Wednesday: Ballard FC host Spokane Velocity in the US Open Cup. The match will be streamed on

Former Sounders right back James Riley is the coach of Ballard. Captain Lesia Thetsane is among the many returnees from last yea’s championship. The squad also has former Sounders Khai Brisco, Peter Kingston, Austin Brummet and Seyi Adekoya.

Velocity have a few talents the MLS fan would recognize. Luis Gil, the former No. 10 with RSL has an assist this season. Collin Fernandez, formerly of Defiance, returns to the state. Defender Romain Métanire spent four seasons in Minnesota. They won their home opener 2-1.

Purchasing the new jersey or planning to get MLS Season Pass? Use our affiliate links to toss some coin to your bloggers.

Looking back at the weekend’s news

Everything else you need to know.

We’re always partial to a US Soccer feature on a team from the Sound. James Riley takes over a Ballard team with big ambitions.

The soccer in Canada has never been better, so of course they lose more money every year. It’ll be even worse if they make a run at the Copa America.

There’s a new set of U.S. kits. All teams are under the same outfit. The whites look classic and the blues have a bit of the bombpop vibe.

KC Current won a nine-goal affair in their new stadium. Bay FC won as well. Red Stars won. It was a good opening weekend for the new era of the NWSL.

One constant throughout the years Reign – it’s Lu Barnes.

In MLS the favorites of the West keep struggling. LAFC’s only success is against Seattle.

ESPN also covered FC Cincinnati revoking credentials from a journalist who did journalism. The Society of Professional Journalists don't understand why FCC involved their code and the North American Soccer Reporters stand by the reporting and reporter in question.

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