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Sounder Strategy: Minnesota mean business

Do the Sounders have the ability to shake their bad habits?

Last Updated
6 min read
Adam Bettcher | Sounders FC Communications

Minnesota United are the season’s most pleasant surprise in the Western Conference. Picked by many pundits to miss the playoffs, they have stormed into third place thanks to unlikely contributors and a new voice at the top. The Sounders have been the West’s surprise disappointment. All their old demons returned against SKC. What can be done to turn around a team that turned stale long ago? Let’s examine the Sounders performance in Kansas City and how they might find some hope against Minnesota.

Sussing out Seattle

It was a game of the same old narratives and the same frustrating problems. The substitutions came too late. Young players had learning moments. Veteran players were ineffective but stayed on the field. The Sounders’ offense could not score more than one goal against one of the worst defenses in MLS.

Let’s face it, this team is not going to climb up the standings as long as they keep taking a red card every three games. Individual mistakes seem fixable enough, but improving an unsustainably poor attack will require tougher changes.

What went right

The young players continue to show their upside. Obed Vargas’s distribution and final pass need improvement, but he is driving the ball forward decisively where other players might be conservative:

Obed turns, accelerates, toasts SKC’s midfield, then makes a good attacking run to open space for his teammates.

Reed Baker-Whiting can beat players with a dribble in a way that neither Nouhou, Jordan Morris, nor even Léo Chú have not been able to do regularly:

Despite little room to operate, Baker-Whiting dances around two defenders.

The Sounders pulled off some impressive vertical attacking patterns, with Vargas again in the thick of things:

Seattle is a step ahead of every SKC player until the ball arrives in the box.

The team can do the hard work of ball progression, but they need either a perfect final pass or a forward with the quickness to beat a defender to the spot. They have neither right now.

Yeimar’s physical presence on the back line is still elite in MLS. Sporting generated very little before the red card, and still needed a shot through Stefan Frei’s legs to find a winner. Jordan Morris is proving some haters wrong by showing that he has not forgotten how to finish breakaways after six seasons of regularly finishing breakaways. João Paulo showed he still has the passing ability to drop a ball to Morris in stride. But now we get to the negatives...

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