Well now… Wasn’t that something? On a night that saw Clint Dempsey return to the where it all began, the Seattle Sounders were coming in to Foxborough on a team high. The Rave Green were sporting a club high winning streak of 5, an unbeaten streak of 6, and road unbeaten streak of 4. The Comeback Kids, as they’ve been of late, had had little rest playing their third game in a week plus traveling across the country but spirits were still high. Top of the MLS table will make any team a giddy bunch. The New England Revolution, on the other hand, were looking to keep a streak of their own alive as they had recorded 3 straight clean sheets at home enroute to claim the #2 spot in the East. A stalwart defence facing the leagues most effective offence. This had all the makings of a gong show.
Sadly, it was. And not the good kind.
The Sounders only line-up change was switching one veteran for the other as Djimi Traoré was back in after Zach Scott started on Wednesday night. USMNT star Brad Evans remained at the LB position with Leo González riding the pine, likely to come in late in the match. All-in-all, standard fare for the Rave Green. The side started strong, rocketing off a pair of shots in the opening 5 minutes of the match. Wanting to maintain the pressure the Sounders dominated possession, playing the excellent passing game they’ve displayed of late (They would complete 83% of their 532 passes). In spite of the Revs playing a counter-strike style, the Sounders remained in control. That is… Until the 14th minute.
In what has also been typical of the Sounders of late, an early goal put the Rave Green behind early. After the ball became loose in the crowded Seattle box, Revs Patrick Mullins cashed in on the mishandled rebound to put the home team up 1-0. No big deal, really. Opponents taking a 1 goal lead on the Sounders? Puh-leeze. Nothing we haven’t seen over the last four matches. The Comeback Kids had read this story before.
Apparently there was a re-write.
“I don’t think they’re five goals better than us. But today they were five goals better than us, and we have to accept it.” – Sounders Coach Sigi Schmid on the loss
At minute 29 the floodgates opened. Diego Fagúndez would crank home a goal (his first of 2014), a lead pass from Chris Tierney from the top left side of the box from just shy of 18 yards. 2-0 Revolution and it had only just begun. Only 5 minutes later Teal Bunbury would fire off a pair of shots from a hard angle, capitalizing on the rebound to blast it into the back of the net and putting the Sounders on their heels 3-0. Diego, who was New England’s leading scorer in 2013, would bag a second off of an expertly placed ball from Bunbury in the 41st minute (a two-touch beauty that is sure to be up for Goal Of The Week) and place the Sounders in a large 4-0 deficit. Heading in to halftime this was not what anyone had expected – a clinical counter-attack that was all but a step ahead of the Sounders back four.
The Sounders came out after the half with full intention of imposing their will on the match. All hope was not lost, a charge could be made and maybe even bring this thing level. The Comeback Kids were ready to live up to their name once more. This was going to be Sounders soccer at its finest. The whistle blew and 30 seconds later the Sounders had their first goal of the match… Sort of. Bunbury’s would nab the ball at midfield, work his way down field, lay down a right-wing cross that deflected off the shoulder of Chad Marshalland rolled past Frei who was caught playing the wrong foot. 5-0 to the Muskets and that, as they say, was that. A few scoring opportunity’s for the Sounders that amassed to little was all that was mustered sending Seattle to their worst defeat since October 2013 (a 5-1 blowout away to Colorado).
While the Sounders controlled 61% of the possession on the night but it was the surgical, precise counter-attack by the Revs that truly dictated the match. How exactly did this all come to pass? Well, as it turns out, the Revolution did their homework before Seattle’s arrival. During their weekly film sessions the Revolution studied the key points of the Sounders back four, particularly MLS sophomore defender DeAndre Yedlin. His penchant to push up the field leaving holes in the back is something yours truly has spoken of before and it would seem that others have also taken notice. That became clearly evident on the second Fagúndez goal when a full speed Bunbury launched the cross to hit Fagundez in stride after the he had blown clear past Yedlin and into the Sounders box. Fagúndez brought the ball down on his first touch and fired past Stefan Frei with his second. A veteran bit of play from a spirited young player.
“I feel like we have one of these games every single year where we get blown out, like last year in Colorado where we got crushed. There’s no excuse, we said we were ready to go and a couple of defensive lapses put us on the back foot and now all we can do is prepare for San Jose.” – Sounders Captain Brad Evans on the loss
The result brought the Revolution to a 5-3-2 record on the year and propped them up to a tie for first place in the Eastern Conference and extending their home clean sheet streak to 4 matches. The loss dropped the Western Conference-leading Sounders to 7-3-1, breaking several previously mentioned streaks. In an interesting bit of statistics, the Sounders have the most points AND the most wins in MLS, however, they’re also tied for most goals allowed. The offence has done well to bail out the team late but for the first time in 6 matches, they were held but a defence that appeared to have all the answers.
The yacht was a bit leaky Sunday afternoon and the team have only a week to not only sort out the mistakes ahead of next week’s home match against San Jose but to also set up their lineup moving forward. This was the last match the Sounders will have MLS leading scorer Clint Dempsey and Captain Brad Evans as the two will be leaving for the USMNT camp ahead of the 2014 World Cup. US Coach Jürgen Klinsmann will announce his 30-player preliminary roster on 12 May in the afternoon, as per his Twitter.