Okay, let’s talk a bit more about the brutal Sounders game. But… rather than a simple narrative of the progression of the game. Let’s take another look at the events of yesterday through another means. Not strickly through 1′s and 0′s but rather giving the story a bit of flavor and context.
Philadelphia Union completed 347 passes against the Sounders 256. Possession doesn’t equate points but considering that both teams pretty much jumped over the midfield the large percentage of time was spent in the attacking portions of the field. This tells us a bit of why the Sounders were out shot 22 to 10. Another reason there was so much time spent in the Seattle Sounders defensive third was their inability to clear the ball. This seems like a duh type statement, but hear me out for a second.
The Sounders won less half their attempted duels (46%). First off this is pretty irregular as they are sitting over 52% for the season. This doesn’t seem like much but in reality it’s anywhere between 5 to 10 additional possessions moving up field. Any duel won is a big deal. Especially when you are taking an onslaught of opposing attackers at your goal.
They partly were losing out on so many clearances due to the fact that both Alex Caskey and Servando Carrasco were sitting in such defensive placements, they missed out on plenty of chances to regain possession at midfield. It didn’t help that out of 126 touches they combined for 25 turnovers (which was 20% of the teams turnovers). Only 2 of those 25 turnovers occurred in the Sounders attacking third. That’s not going to help your club win games.
What else isn’t going to help your club win games is when you sacrifice a position player out on the field. I’m not comptent on Brad Evans situation enough to say or even credibly think that he wasn’t match fit. But Brad Evans barely had 6% of the Sounders total touches.
Even taking into account that he only played 74 minutes, I think it’s fair to say that those numbers, for who is suppose to be–the midfielder linking player/ball winner–were far too low. Alonso usually floats somewhere between 10% to 12%, though it’s hardly fair to compare apples to oranges. Brad Evans wasn’t going to be Ozzie Alonso, but you didn’t expect him to completely disappear from this game and that’s what happened.
With the midfielder playing closer to goal, in a withdrawn and more defensive role, you also saw the defensive line play a bit lower than what they have of recent, especially considering the lack of speed from Philly. But, again, the song of not winning balls continues among the defense. Hurtado, who wasn’t completely mentally checked out had some moment early on and later on as well, but I count at least 5 curious clearances that resulted in failed attempts to gain possession of the ball.Likewise, Djimi Traore had a couple of random moments of booting the ball down field. Part of me gets it. With Eddie Johnson and his elite speed you send a ball down the field with hopes that he and Lamar Neagle can turn it into a successful counter attack. Unfortunately it played with Neagle being dispossessed.
The Sounders didn’t have a bad game and it’s easy to point out all the things that happened and were wrong. Mauro Rosales had a very solid game with 2 key passes, an assist and a meneauver that they counted as a shot that scored a goal. He had 4 of 7 successful crosses and to top it off his 76% pass efficiency was one of the few bright spots among sounders and their possession.
Whiel there are a lot of people talking about the first 28 minutes of this match by the Sounders, there is a specific 28 minutes that a lot more supporters are pointing too. Mario Martinez subbed on for Alex Caskey and put in 28 first class minutes. He was directly responsible for the development of the goal that helped the Sounders steal a point back from the Union on the road. Much like Rosales, his ability to deliver creativity out on the wings and help keep possession of the ball and build an attack helped the Sounders win steam back and even gave them opportunities to take a way a full three points.
Alas, it wasn’t mean to be and I think both teams got the points they deserved. You could point to the Union as being more dominant but both teams had opportunities to score more than just the two goals they came away with and while Union fans will have the moment of Leo Gonzalez right hand connecting with the ball in the box just seconds before the game was called burn into their minds eye. It’s a nice feeling to see calls go your way every once in a while as a Sounders fan.
My Sounders top-three players of the game were: Mauro Rosales (1), Eddie Johnson (2) and then Mario Martinez (3).