Going into the first match of this year’s Cascadia Cup, the Sounders were considered by many one of the top three teams in the MLS. That is why the first half was so shocking to watch. The usually stable midfield frequently gave up possession, allowing the Whitecaps to counterattack with speedy wingers Omar Salgado and Davide Chiumiento. They allowed Jun Davidson to boss the midfield, and there was comical indecisiveness by Jeff Parke on the 12th minute goal by Alain Rochat. It seemed Parked was caught between shifting out to cover Rochat or to stay with the speedy Darren Mattocks. To call the Sounders lucky to be down one goal at the half would be an understatement, young Mattocks had two clear goal scoring opportunities but failed to put the ball on target.
But halftime changes of Andy Rose for Alex Casky, changing their 4-4-2, to 4-2-3-1, and Fredy Montero dropping into the midfield provided quick dividends for manager Sigi Schmid, with a 47 minute goal by Eddie Johnson. After each team exchanged wonder goals in the last 8 minutes, Seattle feels content getting an away point because for the first time this year they were able to have Montero, Johnson, Alvaro Fernandez and Mauro Rosales on the field at the same time. These are four players who can all possess the ball, provide service for each other, and score in this league. When firing on all cylinders it will be near impossible for defenses to key on one man. And that’s why Saturday’s gaining of a point, or the losing of two points (depending on how you view it), won’t grate too much on Sigi Schmid. He realizes that this cohesion will take time to cultivate, as do the players.
Eddie Johnson commented, “Its coming. It’s not coming as fast as we thought it would be. We’ve had some injuries and guys haven’t been able to play on a consistent basis together. Whoever Sigi puts on the field, we’ve got each other’s backs 100-percent.” No doubt more time together on the field will provide the fans with signiture technical, one touch Seattle Sounders football. And perhaps more time running the second half 4-2-3-1 system, will also add an added dimension to this team. At times with Rosales and Adam Johansson connecting on the right side of the pitch along with Eddie Johnson occupying the same half of the final third, Seattle can tend too become too right sided. Real Salt Lake showed that by closing down that right side, Seattle can have problems switching the run of play to the left side. By having Montero drop into the midfield and with the return of a healthy Alvaro Fernandez playing on the left, this new formation may provide the Sounders with more balance and shape to their formation.
When you add the possible mid-summer return of Steve Zakuani, this Fab Four, may become a Fab Five. The future for the Seattle Sounders couldn’t be more promising.