By John Boyle Herald Writer
Seattle Sounders FC is looking for a win tonight, and the way this season is going, the team isn’t too worried about how that win looks.
For the first year-plus of its existence, Sounders FC has been a franchise that prides itself on playing an attractive, attacking soccer, and for the most part last season, that resulted not only in a crowd-pleasing style, but also in results.
This season, however, Seattle has been unable to convert style into substance. Despite often being the better team, the team that controls possession and plays the role of aggressor, Sounders FC is off to a 2-3-3 start and sits in last place in the Western Conference. Seattle’s most recent game — a 4-0 loss at home to Los Angeles — was so embarrassing, ownership gave season-ticket holders a credit toward next year’s tickets.
So against the New York Red Bulls tonight, Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid would be more than happy to see his team win ugly. During practice this week, Schmid tried to drive that point home to his team.
“It was a little bit longer than normal and it wasn’t maybe wonderfully artistic at times or beautiful,” Schmid said describing a practice early in the week. “But sometimes when you are not getting results you have to roll up your sleeves and you have to get a little dirty, a little muddy and you’ve just got to find a way again to close the door in the back and make sure you get the goal or two that you need and get a result or two until you build your confidence again.”
And the easiest way to turn things around for Seattle is to get better where it counts most. In several games this year, Seattle has played well, controlled possession, but suffered letdowns on the critical ends of the field. Offensively, Sounders FC players have struggled to turn chances into goals, and defensively, momentary lapses have turned otherwise solid games into heartbreaking goals.
“We need to be better in the 18s,” goalkeeper Kasey Keller said. “Everything in between the 18s is preparation for what happens inside that box, and we need to get better on both sides inside the 18s. That’s the one thing we want to focus on: make sure we clear the ball when it needs to be cleared, and stick it in the back of the net when it has to be stuck in the net.”
To get the desired result, Seattle will have to beat a team that is also eager to bounce back from an ugly loss. The Red Bulls have been one of the early season surprises in Major League Soccer with a 5-2-0 record, but they, like Seattle, are coming off of a 4-0 loss last weekend. One of those early season wins for New York was a 1-0 win in Seattle in Week 2 of the season, so Sounders FC won’t lack for motivation given that result and its early-season struggles.
“Based on our last game and the result and the results of our last few games, if I have to stand there and fire them up they probably need to get in a different line of work,” Schmid said. “But I don’t think that’s what I need to do. I think our team is ready.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: email@example.com.