It’s been posited that a ‘mere’ One-Nil loss to Tigres UANL should be accepted as a good thing. The sports pundits would have us believe that the Sounders were strong to escape Mexico with such a small margin of loss in a game against what can arguably be counted as Mexico’s greatest team, this season. But look between the lines, watch the plays, and the truth emerges.

The Sounders escaped Mexico on a jet fueled with pure, unadulterated luck.

In the course of the game, Tigres posted eighteen shots, with seven on goal. They racked up seven corner kicks to Seattle’s one. In the end, the win came from a questionable offside goal. They basically spent the game rattling the eighteen-yard box with blasted balls, and only the fact that they somehow managed to shoot wide kept the game from being a study in overwhelming force. And in ninety minutes of play, they only had to make two saves.

Two saves means just one thing: The Sounders were on target twice. Two shots on goal, over the course of ninety minutes, with only three total shots posted. Seattle’s defense wasn’t lackluster – it was lacking. Seattle came out in the first half playing such a poor passing game that they were dominated by the Tigres First Eleven. By the end of the match, Tigres had managed to hold over sixty-five percent of the possession, with a passing accuracy that Seattle was stymied trying to interrupt.

And so the match ended with Tigres up one, and everyone breathed a collective sigh of relief. Some even went so far as to say it was a “good outcome”, and that the Sounders were now poised to make a true run for the win on the aggregate. Now, as the day approaches, the sports writers and fans cry out that this will be the “greatest celebration of loss”, and an “epic comeback”.

Tigres is so disinterested in the game that they’ve reportedly sent their “B Team” to Seattle. They’re convinced the Sounders will fall to bench-warmers, and given Seattle’s performance last week, it’s not an unlikely conclusion to reach. The Sounders will be playing to a crowd of only seventeen thousand, six hundred fans (by last report), in a stadium designed to hold more than seventy thousand –  so the fan support might be underwhelming. The potential for the weather to play a part might help, as the Mexican team might not be easily able to deal with (possible) icy rain and low temperatures.

But fans and weather and home field aside, the true test of the team will be the team itself. They’ve put up two losses in as many games, coming out in this new season with a decidedly poor showing. The inclusion of new defenders Djimi Traore and DeAndre Yedlin has bolstered the back line, but our beloved Michael Gspurning hasn’t had the Cerberusean start on which we placed our hopes. Michael’s spent two games making too-far-from-the-line gaffes, and his only saves have been the sort a rookie would make. Arguments have been made that the team just has too many new members to have ‘gelled’ this early in the season, and that we just need a little more time.

Tonight, the time has run out.

This will only happen if they can dominate possession, keep their passes tight, rattle shots on the goal, and keep their positions solid. They will need two forwards, working together to cut from the sides to the center of the box. They will need wingers running the line, crossing to the eighteen. They need the mids tearing the ball away from Tigres any time the Sounders lose possession. The defenders will need to bring their A-game. Michael will need to be the Three-Headed Guardian we know he can be.

Because if the Sounders can’t post a win tonight with a margin of two goals, not only will CONCACAF be over for Seattle, but the hit to the team morale will continue stacking up against us, making each successive game that much harder to win. Seattle must bring it tonight.

Tonight, the team needs strength.

Tonight, the team needs strategy.

Tonight, the team needs unity, and team-work, and passing accuracy, and shots on goal.

Tonight, the Sounders need to win.

 

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