The Seattle Sounders (3-8-2, 11pts) returned to the practice pitch Monday afternoon after a five-day break to rest and regenerate after another stinging loss. The Sounders where 2-1 losers to the New York Red Bulls (8-4-2, 26pts) on Wednesday, June 13th leaving 10 days before the Sounders next which will be Saturday at Century LinkField.
After giving the players a few days off to regenerate Sounders head Coach Brian Scmetzer spoke to the media after the teams first practice break and made it clear that the team is aware of the need to string together some wins and get back into the playoff hunt with twenty games left in the season.
The Sounders are have won just two of their last five matches and in addition to hosting the Chicago Fire( 5-7-4, 23pts) on Saturday will host Cascadia rival’s Portland Timbers (6-3-4, 22pts) seven days later. The Rave Green’s ability to score goals has been its Achilles heel. Seattle has scored a league-low 10 games this season. The Fire has scored 23 goals and allowed 23. The Seattle defense has been solid allowing just 17 goals. If the Sounders are going to break out of their scoring doldrums, Chicago is their best chance. The Fire has allowed 28 goals which are just three goals less than San Jose and Orlando City who have allowed a league-high goal.
If the Sounders are going to have a breakthrough in their scoring they will need creative midfield play from Nicolas Lodeiro, Cristian Roldan, Osvaldo Alonso, Harry Shipp and Victor Rodriguez. Part of Schmetzers dilemma is which of the above players should he start and where should they play. Roldan, Lodeiro, and Osvaldo are starters when healthy. Rodriguez has returned from a leg injury while Shipp has scored the teams last two goals.
The Sounders midfield players created some space for each other by making off-ball runs and connected on consecutive passes in the loss to the Red Bulls. The problem was the quality of play was sporadic and not sustained. Whoever Schmetzer inserts in the line up will need to show some creativity with and without the ball and be technically sound when in transition.
In addition to creative link-up play in the middle of the pitch, the Sounders will need their fullbacks to push forward from the flanks in hopes of spreading the Fire defense to open up space in the box for Clint Dempsey and Will Bruin to have space and time to shot when they receive the ball from the midfielders.