Skip to content

Seattle keeps digging holes, keeps climbing out

May 8, 2014, 1:01 AM EST

Seattle has given up the opening goal five times this year. Each time, it’s come within the first 17 minutes. Each time it’s come from a preventable mistake. For most teams, this would be a major concern.

But the Sounders aren’t most teams. As of right now, they’re the best team in Major League Soccer, their 2-1, come from behind win over Dallas on Wednesday night reinforcing their case. Though an early penalty conceded by Brad Evans allowed their guests to take a 16th minute lead, Seattle would go on to outshoot the Toros 19-8 (9-2, on target) and hold 56 percent of the ball, ultimately taking full points after second half goals from Lamar Neagle and Kenny Cooper.

It was the same formula Seattle used this weekend against Philadelphia, where an Evans own goal gave the Union a 13th minute lead. At Chivas USA, Osvaldo Alonso took down Leandro Barrera in the fifth minute, allowing Erick Torres to score from the spot. At Dallas, Stefan Frei misjudged a bouncing ball. For whatever reason — lack of focus, bad luck, pure chance — the Sounders keep conceding these early goals, but just like tonight at CenturyLink, they find a way to come back.

Highlights of the game are above, but the more important question going forward is what this says about the current state of the Sounders. Four things:

1. You have to be very good to keep overcoming these deficits …: The more often Seattle can overcome these deficits, the more it indicates the opening goals aren’t a big deal. For most teams, given such a low scoring sport, giving up goal number one is huge. If the Sounders can consistently count on two goals a game, it’s not.

What’s more, if the Sounders attack is so much better than opposing defenses that they can “turn it on” at will, how many goals they’re capable of scoring ceases to be issue. At some point, Seattle’s just responding to its surroundings.

2. … but at some point, you’re going to run into somebody else who’s very good: This weekend we marveled at Sporting Kansas City’s ability to protect one-goal leads. Granted, Seattle has a late goal against them this year (opening day), but it was against a half-strength Sporting team. At some point, the Sounders are going to come up against a team like Sporting, one that won’t prove as forgiving as the Dallases and Chivases of the world.

Then again, maybe the Sounders already have. The good version of Toronto (not the team we see right now) fits the profile. Not only did the Reds score first and early when they visited Seattle, but they doubled their lead before halftime. Seattle eventually scored, but the early goals still came back to hurt.

That’s the other danger of giving up an early goal: What if — by lack of focus, bad luck, or pure chance — you give up a second? Or what if you give up a second against one of the league’s better teams?

It all comes back to the obvious: Giving up goals is bad. You can never just brush it off. No team takes the field being okay with conceding goals. If you’re giving up goals, you’re failing in at least one small respect.

3. It’s still early, and there’s reason to think the defense will improve: There’s a new goalkeeper. Chad Marshall’s never played with these guys before. Osvaldo Alonso may still be getting used to listening to Marshall’s directions. There’s reason to think the defense will get better, which will lead to fewer goals.

Whether that happens remains to be seen, but there’s an argument to be made that it will.

4. This isn’t that long-awaiting Goonies sequel: If this keeps up, people are going to start comparing Seattle to the 2012 Earthquakes, but the teams couldn’t be more different. Whereas the Earthquakes style (and, Frank Yallop’s adjustments) fed on teams as they became more conservative with leads, Seattle’s using their normal approach. There’s no point where they become particularly desperate or significantly change their approach or personnel. They just become more determined.

Two years later, it still isn’t clear how San Jose was so successful late in matches, but with Seattle, it couldn’t be more evident. They’re just good. Really good. The more they need a goal, the more likely they are to get it. Even a part-time panda could figure it out.

Latest Posts
  1. Antoine Griezmann bursts into the spotlight as Atletico downs Bilbao

    Dec 21, 2014, 11:59 PM EST

    Antoine+Griezmann+Getafe+CF+v+Club+Atletico+wVX6J_Xdokul

    Antoine Griezmann breaks out with three goals in Atletico’s 4-1 result over Athletic Bilbao.

  2. A day of Ronaldo: Real Madrid star erects statue of himself, thinks Real can win Champions League again

    Dec 21, 2014, 10:21 PM EST

    FBL-ESP-LIGA-REALMADRID-BARCELONA FBL-ESP-LIGA-REALMADRID-BARCELONA

    Cristiano Ronaldo has made headlines twice today, for erecting a statue of himself and claiming Real Madrid could repeat in the Champions League.

  3. WATCH: Tim Howard discusses autobiography ‘The Keeper’

    Dec 21, 2014, 8:17 PM EST

    tim_howard Getty Images

    Tim Howard converses about his recently released autobiography, “The Keeper.”

  4. Eyeing France national team call-up, AC Milan’s Jérémy Ménez keeps showing off his skills

    Dec 21, 2014, 7:40 PM EST

    Jeremy+Menez+qojlhLjziL0m Getty Images

    Jeremy Menez has done a fantastic job as AC Milan’s primary attacker, and he’s primarily aiming for the French national team call-up.

  5. Manager Ally McCoist exits Rangers, goes on gardening leave

    Dec 21, 2014, 6:20 PM EST

    Ally McCoist Getty Images

    Ally McCoist has left Scottish Championship team Rangers, as the club has recognized the former star striker is now on “gardening leave.”

  6. Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge to return from injury in January, according to manager

    Dec 21, 2014, 4:55 PM EST

    Manchester City Liverpool Soccer AP

    According to Brendan Rogers, Liverpool’s prime attacker, Daniel Sturridge, will make his return from a multi-month injury in early January.

  7. With his derby success, Adam Johnson thinks Newcastle United fans ‘must hate him’

    Dec 21, 2014, 4:05 PM EST

    adam_johnson AP

    Sunderland winger Adam Johnson on game-winner and Tyne-Wear derby triumphs: “Three years in a row, they must hate me here!”

  8. VIDEO: Poor finishing leaves Brendan Rodgers “deflated” despite late draw

    Dec 21, 2014, 3:39 PM EST

    Rodgers Getty Images

    Brendan Rodgers gives his thoughts after a 2-2 draw despite what he called “dominance” on the ball.

  9. VIDEO: Arsene Wenger regretfully admits draw with Liverpool fair

    Dec 21, 2014, 3:12 PM EST

    Wenger AP

    With polarizing halves separating the teams, Arsene Wenger said a draw was the correct result based on performance.

  10. Cristiano Ronaldo passes up Platini handshake after Ballon d’Or comments

    Dec 21, 2014, 2:29 PM EST

    Ronaldo Getty Images

    Cristiano Ronaldo appeared to bring a grudge with him to Morocco.

  11. VIDEO: Alan Pardew says he pushed Newcastle too hard late in derby loss

    Dec 21, 2014, 1:44 PM EST

    Pardew AP

    With Newcastle yielding late, Alan Pardew thinks he may have left his team a little too exposed as the clock ticked towards the final minute.

  12. Liverpool 2-2 Arsenal: Wounded Skrtel turns away Gunners at the death (video)

    Dec 21, 2014, 1:08 PM EST

    Skrtel Getty Images

    Martin Skrtel returned from a nasty injury and took full advantage of the resulting stopptage time.

  13. John Brooks, a week after scoring, has forgettable match in 5-0 thumping

    Dec 21, 2014, 11:58 AM EST

    Brooks Getty Images

    A day to forget for the American central defender in Germany’s top flight.

  14. Newcastle 0-1 Sunderland: Johnson sinks Newcastle again (video)

    Dec 21, 2014, 10:26 AM EST

    SunderlandNewcastle

    The boyhood Newcastle fan scored at St. James Park for the third year in a row as Sunderland stole the Tyne-Wear derby late.

  15. Watch Live: Liverpool vs Arsenal (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Dec 21, 2014, 10:16 AM EST

    Sterling Getty Images

    Raheem Sterling looks to be the lone attacking option for Liverpool as Brendan Rodgers has left both his available strikers on the bench.

  16. WATCH: Watch Lionel Messi’s silky first touch lead to a stellar goal

    Dec 21, 2014, 8:52 AM EST

    Messi Getty Images

    A magnetizing first touch leads to a meaningless but nonetheless beautiful goal by the man who gives us magic weekly.

  17. Watch Live: Newcastle vs Sunderland (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Dec 21, 2014, 7:53 AM EST

    PardewPoyet Getty Images

    The heated Tyne-Wear derby has brought us goals and fireworks of many kinds, and will be no different today as Sunderland looks to win four in a row over Newcastle for the first time ever.

  18. Tim Howard says Frank Lampard should leave Man City, start MLS season with NYCFC

    Dec 20, 2014, 10:54 PM EST

    FBL-ENG-PR-MAN CITY-CRYSTAL PALACE FBL-ENG-PR-MAN CITY-CRYSTAL PALACE

    Howard doesn’t think Lampard will start the MLS season with NYCFC, although he says he should.

Featured video

Week 17: PL Saturday recap