The start looked like it would be different but not so. When the whistle sounded to end the Sounders FC match at Vancouver the result was the same. The Sounders suffered another loss. To make matters worse the 2-0 loss was to another Cascadia Rival.
SHUFFLED LINE UP
The Whitecaps were in ninth place in the Western Conference with 14 points in 12 matches. The Sounders were still clinging to first place with 23 points in 13 games. Head coach Brian Schmetzer changed line up of Nouhou at left-back, Leo Chu left Javier Arreaga at center-back next to Yeimar, Josh Atencio next to Albert Rusnak, and Montero upfront making for a quick and fast lineup. Alex Roldan right back, Nicolas Lodeiro center midfielder, and Jordan Morris at right-wing filled out the starting eleven. The line-up change made for a fast-paced Sounder team that on paper could get up and down the field and exploit the Whitecaps back line of three.
The 3-4-2-1 formation by the Whitecaps allowed for plenty of room on the outside for the Sounders wingers. The 4-2-3-1 formation by the Sounders left plenty of room for the Whitecaps midfielders. As a result of the formation’s both sides started on the front foot as the first 20 minutes of the match resembled a Western Conference Basketball game from the 90’s when both cities had NBA teams.
GAME SETTLED DOWN
The game settled down with both sides trading possession. As the half went on the Sounders became lethargic in their passing, marking and committing numerous turnovers. Three minutes before the halftime break the Sounders transgressions finally caught up with them. After a turnover Whitecaps midfielder Ali Ahmed crossed the ball into the Seattle goal box to Pedro Vite who beat Alex Roldan for the score.
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CHANGES BUT TO NO AVAIL
After the half-time restart a charged and energized Sounders squad returned to the pitch determined to level the score. As has been the case the last several games the Sounders were unable to sustain pressure in their pressing formation. The other issue haunting the Sounders is the inability to finish in the final third when they do have possession. In their attempt to find the equalizer, the lines between midfield, defense, and the forward line became stretched leaving pockets for the Whitecaps. Luis Martins fed the ball to Ryan Gauld just outside the Sounder’s goal box. Gauld’s left-footed shot hit the post and bounced off Stefan Frei who was obstructed when the shot was taken. The Whitecaps took a 2-0 lead and never looked back.
The Sounders played three matches in the last eight days and walked away with 1-2 record. They are a tired team that has been missing some vital starters. If that sounds like excuses they are to some degree. Those are facts. Despite the injuries and cramped schedule, the Sounders can point to some shoddy defense, inability to win one on one duels, and lousy execution. What’s critical is how the Sounders will respond to their current of bad form. Every team goes thru a rough pitch each season. In seven days the Sounders will host the New York Red Bulls how they respond in that game will say a lot about this team.