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Sounder Strategy: Pain in Portland

The Timbers are vulnerable, but the Sounders are punchless.

Last Updated
5 min read
Mike Fiechtner / Sounders FC Communications

Feeling bored by the Sounders lately? How about some rivalry shenanigans to spice things up? The bad man Gio Savarese is gone from the Portland sidelines. It is a new day in Cascadia with an unfamiliar feel as both the Timbers and Sounders are suffering below the playoff line. Let’s look at what went wrong at home last weekend against the Galaxy and how the Sounders can take advantage of one of the leakiest defenses in MLS to, perhaps, get themselves back on track.

Sussing out Seattle

A home match against a Galaxy side missing Riqui Puig, Dejan Joveljić, and Mark Delgado should be good for three points. The Galaxy did not even sit deep in their own half to make the Sounders break them down in tight spaces. Seattle was presented with many opportunities to run at the goal from vertical runs by Obed Vargas, turnovers as the Galaxy attempted to build out from the back, and even the occasional through-ball. But Seattle’s home scoring woes continued. Fast-break opportunities developed too slowly, were derailed by inaccurate passes, or lacked runners who could sprint past LA’s defenders:

Morris intercepts a pass with room to run, but no one is making a run behind the defense, and Morris cannot connect with Ruidíaz.

All in all, it was too slow, too sloppy, and showcased the limitations of Ruidíaz leading the attacking line.

The Sounders get a couple of bites at a fast break, but it eventually breaks down.

The two pieces of good news from another bland performance was the defensive effectiveness of the left side against star winger Joseph Paintsil and the continued attacking progression of Obed Vargas. Morris, Nouhou, and Josh Atencio worked admirably to deny any kind of opportunity to Paintsil, who finished the match without a shot on target. Vargas, meanwhile, was flying up and down the pitch winning tackles and trusting in his ability to carry the ball through the heart of the Galaxy midfield:

Vargas comes flying in to win the ball.

While his touch on passes is not perfect, his play is improving every match:

Vargas’ through ball is just a touch overhit.

In a season that has mostly been devoid of attacking joy, Obed’s play is giving fans something to look forward to beside a healthy Pedro de la Vega.

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