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The Review: Seattle Sounders vs Austin FC

The Sounders aren't producing enough dangerous chances

Last Updated
2 min read
Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Sounders' home opener on Saturday night left much to be desired for the home fans wanting to see their team kickstart their 2024 campaign. The Sounders controlled the whole match against an Austin FC side that showed no interest in doing anything positive at all, but Seattle was unable to come out on top on the cold and dreary evening.

Let's dig into the narratives that are developing from this one.

Dissecting the Narrative

Sounders' offensive misfires continue

If you're feeling like Seattle can't score a goal, you aren't exactly wrong. The Sounders have gone 324 minutes (plus stoppage time) without scoring an open-play goal, dating back to the playoffs last season. Their buildup play and attacking patterns have looked clunky at best these past two games, which isn't what you want to see from a team that has spent their offseason retooling the attack to prevent this sort of thing.

I know readers of this parish are like war veterans whenever someone mentions Expected Goals, but the Sounders only producing 1.24 xG on 23 shots is bad whatever way you slice it. Let me put it this way: Seattle's best statistical chance of the game came in the 92nd minute when Raúl Ruidíaz had an athletic volley bang off the cross bar. That particular chance was only valued at 0.17 xG. And that was the best opportunity of the night. You need to generate better chances than that if you want to score goals consistently.

So, it's one thing to just complain about scoring goals. After all, it's the hardest objective to achieve in this sport. Why are the Sounders struggling to create? I see two main issues: the left side and fitness.

I really don't want to belabor this point too much lest I be labeled as a "hater" but the left-sided tandem of Leo Chú and Nouhou is not one that you can rely on at the MLS level. Both players have strengths and are good at certain things, but the combination of the two skillsets are detrimental to the Sounders' attack. There were two moments in the first half where we saw Nouhou take two shots from well outside the penalty area that absolutely killed the attacking momentum. His typical weakness of lingering on the ball and not making consistent attacking runs were very apparent against Austin's parked bus. The evidence is becoming overwhelming at this point that he cannot contribute offensively as a fullback in a back 4, which is borderline unacceptable with how the Sounders currently set up.

Chú's style of play requires him to see so much of the ball to be effective, but that presents an interesting paradox because he's not become the type of killer on the ball to demand the attack to be built around him. What frustrated us last season about him is still true this season and it doesn't appear to be getting better. Again, I want to cut him some slack because he's obviously not the long-term starter at this position. However, it is very worrying that when he is on the field the attacking patterns default to him, isolating so much of the other aspects of the Sounders' buildup that could produce.

Lastly, it's very important to point out that the Sounders are nowhere near close to full fitness. They were without four starters against Austin – again – and Pedro de la Vega and Ruidíaz had minute restrictions. It's very, very difficult to play the way you want to in MLS when you don't have all your weapons at your disposal. I am excited to see what this team can do when everyone is healthy.