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Wondo’s wonderful goal, and time to ask questions in Seattle

Mar 24, 2013, 1:43 AM EDT

In Houston, the Dynamo were able to overcome a great goal from that match’s most dangerous man. In Santa Clara, Seattle couldn’t say the same, with an almost even battle between two of the West’s assumed best decided by this:

Eighty yards and two Chris Wondolowski touches later, and Michael Gspurning is watching the shot go in off his left post. Not only was that unstoppable, it was the match winner, with the 1-0 win giving San Jose their second victory of the season.

How “Wondo” saw it:

“I was lucky enough to get the touch and control the ball. I saw Seattle’s goalkeeper [Michael Gspurning] shading toward the ball. He probably wasn’t expecting me to shoot from outside the box. I got a good foot on it and was able to score far post..”

And despite three close games, the Sounders are still winless, with losses to Montréal and San Jose sandwiching last week’s draw against Portland. Counting CONCACAF Champions League matches, Seattle 1-1-3 and have already been shutout three times this season.

Looking at the final numbers, you could argue Seattle was hard done by Wondolowski’s momentary brilliance. Shot totals were similar (16-13, Seattle), as were the shots on goal (5-4, San Jose). Seattle had the possession advantage, but part of that is explained by their chasing the match. Though Seattle caused a couple bits of Jon Busch panic, San Jose was just as threatening towards Gspurning.

“We had three very good chances to score and I feel that we deserved the win tonight,” San Jose head coach Frank Yallop said.

The only thing that separated the sides is the same thing that decides so most matches: Finishing.

“[A] little bit of quality at the right moments, better service at the right moments would’ve made a difference,” Sigi Schmid told the assembled media after the match.

“I don’t know if we deserved to win,” Schmid said, “but I think we deserved to get out of here with a tie.”

It’s an easy argument to make, but it’s not very convincing (and I can’t imagine Schmid being to vociferous while making his case). The balance of play hints Seattle deserved something, but scoring goals matters. A lot. People who can finish matter, which is why all things being equal, a team that starts Chris Wondolowski is more likely to win than a team that starts Sammy Ochoa and David Estrada.

“I thought Estrada and Ochoa were a handful today up front,” Schmid said. “Could that quality be a little better? That’s what Wondo displayed.”

That’s not to say Seattle was particularly hard done by the international break. They were missing two of their starters, both forwards (Eddie Johnson and Obafemi Martins), while San Jose were missing two of theirs (Justin Morrow and Victor Bernardez), both defenders. San Jose was also without their starters at right back (Steven Beitashour), right wing (Martin Chavez), and No. 9 (Steven Lenhart, Alan Gordon, Mike Fucito). There’s no point complaining about the absences of Johnson and Martins.

The bigger problem for Seattle is in midfield. They’re getting nothing going forward. Christian Tiffert hasn’t been replaced. Fredy Montero’s ability to fill that space was ultimately underrated. The injury to Brad Evans has hurt, while Shalrie Joseph still isn’t ready to start. Osvaldo Alonso is doing his typical dominating best defensively, but for a team that’s scored only once in 180 MLS minutes, something more is needed in the middle.

It’s still early, but unable to solve that problem, Seattle find themselves in last place in the West. At the same time, a San Jose team that’s faced their own series of obstacles is 2-1-1.

It’s time for Seattle to start finding answers, and if they can’t, it’s time to start worrying. With Obafemi Martins, they may have two of the best forwards in the league, but as of now, how are they going to get them the ball?

Sigi Schmid quotes used in this piece came from the Twitter account of The Seattle Times’ Joshua Mayers: @joshuamayers.

  1. kselvig - Mar 24, 2013 at 2:24 AM

    A couple of pennies worth of my thoughts… it’s the 3rd game of the season, and we’re yet to see a full strength Seattle team. The Galaxy won 3 of their first 13 games last year and turned out ok once they got their full team together… how bout we wait and see what happens once everyone gets in the rotation. Zakuani and Rosales will be fine in the midfield once they’re feeding EJ and Martins instead of Ochoa and Estrada. Evans will help. Mario Martinez will help. Joseph might help (we’ll see what he has left soon enough.) Tonight’s game was a toss up going in. On the road against one of the better MLS teams around and missing 3 of their best attacking options, including two starting forwards. Let’s see where these guys are end of April. Don’t forget, they did just knock a Mexican team out of the Champs League.

    • kselvig - Mar 24, 2013 at 2:29 AM

      And didn’t Seattle go through a stretch of like 9 games without a win last season too? Like I said, let’s see what they look like once they get their full team together.

  2. mvktr2 - Mar 24, 2013 at 7:34 AM

    What this article didn’t say was that Seattle is getting little to nothing out of Rosales. Earlier in the year when he was playing the reserved striker that’s not on him, it’s not his game. However in midfield he’s not the Rosales of 2 years ago. While Zakuani is looking dynamite Rosales looks like father time has caught up with him, I anticipate the same is true of Joseph whom at this point is more D-mid or even CB cover than anything going forward. Meanwhile Martinez plays like a world beater for Honduras and a 30/70 player for Seattle. That’s 30% good, 70% mediocre. Rosales has been the key facilitator for 2 years, if he’s not in form or if father time has started stepping on his toes it’s a real problem.

    Perhaps an odd solution would be to insert Joseph when healthy and move Alonso forward in the attack?

    As for SJ, bravo to what they’ve accomplished this year with a crap load of injuries. Bad news for MLS is that Wondo seems to be hitting his groove.

    • zoophagous - Mar 25, 2013 at 11:35 AM

      Exactly.

      Of course the offense is going to be a little weak. Evans is out with an injury. Martinez is out with national team duty. The Sounders two starting forwards are out with national team duty.

      The midfield doesn’t worry me at all. The opposite in fact. Zakuani looks brilliant. As good as he has ever looked. I think he’s going to light the league up this year. Combine him with Martins, Johnson and that alone is a potent offense. Rosales is off to a slow start. I am close to saying Sigi should bench him. But not there yet. Evans has looked great when he was on the pitch. Martinez looks world class though he doesn’t seem to be on the same page as the rest of the team. Rose is serviceable, not great but not a liability either. And then there’s Alonso.

      Three games. The first game featured Rosales playing out of position as a forward. That degraded the midfield and didn’t really work. Ditto for the second match except we got a sneak peek of what Martins brings to the pitch. Amazing. The third match featured a line up without EJ, Martins, Evans, Martinez. And STILL gave SJ a great match even if they lost.

      Worried, no. Excited? Hell yes!

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