With the opening of the 2013 MLS season, the Seattle Sounders have the hype and the expectations of being serious Supporter Shield and MLS Cup contenders. But Saturday night it was the Montreal Impact who showed the composure and the experience that is indicative of a champion. Anchored by their two centerbacks Alessandro Nesta and Matteo Ferrari, the Impact weathered an initial surge in the first 17 minutes by and settled down. They started to take their chances. Marco Di Vaio shot just pushing the ball over the crossbar as well as a diving header by Andrea Pisanu that went wide left. But it was the captain, Davy Arnaud who beautifully floated the ball over keeper Michael Gspuring in the 35th minute to take the lead.
For all the credit that the Impact deserve, the same amount of criticism can go to Seattle’s wingers. With the loss of Fredy Montero much is expected of Steve Zakuani and Mario Martinez in the way of goals and offensive pressure. But last night both seemed to drift in and out of the match, and when they did get the ball, both players failed to take advantage of their one on one skills. As elegant as Nesta’s performance was last night, their speed could have exposed his 37 year old legs. Another area where they failed to capitalize was with Mauro Rosales’ movement. Starting up top with Eddie Johnson, Rosales tended to drift out to the right where he is more comfortable. When you have a withdrawn forward that has the freedom to drift to the flanks, you need to have deep midfield runs up the middle. It was no surprise that when those run where carried out, the Sounders have their best chances on goal. They just didn’t have enough of those runs, and they didn’t have them from their speedy wingers.
But this was not a disaster for the Sounders, granted zero points is not ideal, but they had many high points. One is that Mauro Rosales looks like he is in mid-season form. Once Osvaldo Alonso returns and the wingers get on track, Rosales can truly orchestrate the midfield. And the buyout of Christian Tiffert gives a strong indication that Obafemi Martins may be on his way soon. But the highlight of the night had to be the rookie debut of DeAndre Yedlin. The 19 year old Homegrown player never looked out of his depth. He overlapped well and was quick to track back when he went forward. And when speedy winger Sanna Nyassi came on he bent but he didn’t break. His confidence must high; he knows that he has a coach who is willing to use him despite his youth. No doubt we will be seeing more of him. The Seattle Sounders have the foundation for greatness but they must build on it if they hope to reach and exceed expectaions.