The Seattle Sounders might have their share of attacking talent, but their scoring woes refuse to go away.
The Sounders suffered their latest loss in their return from MLS’s brief summer break, as they were blanked, 2-0, on the road against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday night. The loss at Red Bull Arena left the Sounders very disappointed not only because it was their fourth in their last five games, but because their attack had several promising sequences that it squandered en route to being shut out for the third time in this recent stretch.
Nonetheless, head coach Sigi Schmid preached patience.
“Obviously, we’ve got to wait for some of our young players to mature,” said Schmid. “Because when you look at who the chances fell to tonight, you’re looking at Jordan Morris, you’re looking at Aaron Kovar, you’re looking at Oalex Anderson, even a Joevin Jones. Those guys are young guys, so we need to wait for those guys to mature a little bit.”
Patience can be trying, however, especially for a team that is used to winning but currently finds itself in ninth place of the Western Conference with an ugly 5-8-1 record. What is worse is that the Sounders currently have the second fewest goals scored across the entire league with 13, ahead of only the miserable Chicago Fire.
Part of the Sounders’ problem is that no one has stepped up on a consistent basis to fill the big shoes left by Obafemi Martins. That has left star forward Clint Dempsey without a scoring sidekick, and the Sounders relying on young players like Morris and Kovar to put away chances.
The production has not been there, though. Sunday’s match was the latest example of that, especially in the first half when the Sounders looked the more dangerous side but could not find their finishing touch.
“It is the worst feeling in the world because it’s kind of on your shoulders,” said the rookie Morris when asked how tough it is to go through this kind of form as an attacking player. “We played so well today and it was on me to finish those chances and I didn’t. It’s not a fun feeling at all. Just hopefully I can put some away and help the team win in the next game.”
Not having Dempsey because of his continued participation at the Copa America Centenario with the U.S. Men’s National Team certainly did not help the Sounders’ cause vs. the Red Bulls, but fellow Designated Player Nelson Valdez was available and came off the bench in the second half.
Schmid said he did not start Valdez because the Paraguayan striker had been away on international duty in recent weeks without playing much and was not fit to play an entire game. Valdez’s introduction in the 68th minute still did not help solve things in the final third, leaving the Sounders to have to accept their latest defeat courtesy of a Mike Grella brace.
The Sounders can take solace in that they were not outplayed and finished with the same amount of shots on goal as the Red Bulls with three, but that will still likely not be enough to remove the disappointment and frustration that Schmid and his players felt after the match.
Scoring is an ongoing problem right now, and only the Sounders will be able to come up with the cure.
“We need to put the ball on frame,” said goalkeeper Stefan Frei. “Some times you need to have an opponent make mistakes, but if we’re never going to hit the frame then you’re not even giving your opponent the chance to make mistakes. We just need to find the frame, and good things will happen.”