Another Near Miss
A 2-2 tie in Guatemala last night puts the Seattle Sounders into the CONCACAF Quarter Finals. But do they deserve to go forward? As much as I love to watch them play, and as much as I want for them to win everything and come home with Cup after Cup…
No. No, they don’t deserve it.
Without Osvaldo Alonso, last night’s game would have gone in a vastly different, and much more ugly, direction. Ossy was a bright spot in an otherwise dark and dismal play session, and the reason comes back to my favorite things: Trapping, Passing, Receiving. The Sounders are (most of them) god awful at these cores of Soccer, and it blows my mind.
Last night was a prime example of how the SFC fails to trap passed balls. The ball was bouncing 10-15 feet away last night on about 70% of the passes, giving those speedy bastards of (as the announcer put it) “Communicashinez” plenty of opportunity to steal the ball. The prime examples on our team of excellent trapping are Ossy and Mauro. We’ve all seen Rosales receive a down field goal kick from Kasey… the ball comes hurtling through the air with enough force to knock over a WWE wrestler, and Mauro just raises a foot, scoops the ball to the ground, and blam. Control. Osvaldo the same. I’ve watched Alonso catch those massive lobs from the scrum in a set piece, and with one touch send the ball rocketing back at the goal with deadly accuracy. (Last night, btw, was the first time I’ve seen one go IN from that little move.) And the part that blows my mind is – when you see these guys practicing before the games, they trap the ball perfectly! There’s none of the error during practice. There’s no three to five yard bounce. The ball hits them, they trap it, drop it, and send it Accurately back. Practice should carry to the game, but it doesn’t.
The Sounders have so many passes that wind up nowhere near anyone. I get that the idea is to pass where someone will be if they run for it… but some of these passes go literally nowhere. Freddy, for instance, averages more flubs per game he’s in than connected passes – passes to the opposition, passes that look cool, but ultimately wind up giving the ball away, passes that fly in the opposite direction any of his teammates were running, passes that are way too strong, and require Olympic Class sprinters to catch. And Freddy isn’t alone. El Flaco is one of the worst perpetrators of this crime. He’ll often kick the ball down field… when none of our players are down field with him. Who’s he kicking to? Only El Flaco Knows! And it’s not just these two that are guilty. We’ve all groaned at a Zach Scott cross that left the field before anyone was within twenty feet of the ball. We’ve all sighed and frowned watching Tyson Wahl drop a long down-field drive that wound up being faster than the man he was passing to.
And this brings me to my favorite topic.
The lads are great players to watch, and there’s nothing I love more than to see them perform a well-executed drive to the goal. The intricacy of the passing game can be magical. And rare.
And then there’s the rest of the time.
The team has a “wait and see” attitude when it comes to receiving passes. They rarely go to the ball, but instead wait for it to come to them. This is how speedy guys like Communicaciones manage to make the SFC look so bad. They run to the ball. When the pass is made, they do their best to get to it before someone else can take it away. We (That’s the Fan ‘We’, there.) stand there and wait for the ball to get to us. Last night was such a prime example of how not to receive passes, I believe Sigi should use the game as a training video. “See that? Don’t ever do that again.” The Sounders have given up so many passes between not just their own teammates, but also between opposing players, that I’m starting to think they’re trying to be gentlemen about it. “Oh, no, sport. That’s clearly your ball. Go right ahead and get it. I’ll wait until you’re ready.”
Now, all this negativity has probably convinced you that I’m not a fan. That I hate the Sounders. That I kick kittens. That I pray for the fall of the DOW and NASDAQ.
This is as far from the truth as you can get. I love watching the Sounders, in spite of these heinous crimes against the sport. Because the Sounders manage, even with these major shortcomings, to be an excellent club. They create magic in almost every game, and are a true pleasure to watch. When I see them take the pitch, my heart speeds up. When they score a goal, I scream myself hoarse. Every time they have a good play and deny the opposition the ball with a well timed kick to the sidelines; every time they manage to take the ball and make a drive down field, every missed shot at the goal that was at least a shot taken. Every single great moment they create, I’m clapping, and whistling, and yelling, and cheering them on.
I think I am. I know I am. A Sounders FC Fan.
~Bleeding Rave Green