Saturday, March 26, 2011

Seattle v. Houston

If last week's theme was bad defending this game's theme was bad bounces. Both goals in the 1-1 draw came from fortunate bounces in front of goal. Both teams got their first goal of the season and first point of the year as well.

Seattle was the better team throughout the game and held most of the possession in the second half. But much like their two previous matches they couldn't do anything in the final third. Through out much of the match Seattle's game plan was to hoof the ball down field from the back or the midfield for Fredy Montero or O'Brian White to chase. Neither player has the ability in the air or hold up play ability for this strategy, and Houston's defence routinely cleared any danger that might have come from it. True to form Montero slipped in and out of the match. White on the other hand was never in the match and added nothing to the Sounders attack. The Houston defence did a fantastic job on the night and kept Seattle from shooting inside the 18-yard box which has to worry Seattle. The Sounders took too many shots outside of the area and only once looked dangerous on such a shot. Goalkeeper Tally Hall wasn't bothered on the night and only had his goal threatened on the Sounders one goal.

Seattle did create a lot of crosses from the wings. Steve Zakuani and Erik Friberg were regularly able to put crosses of varying degrees into the box. But the problem was the lack of Seattle attackers in the box and the lack of height to get to the cross. Only once was Montero near a cross and he headed well over the bar. White never even got near a cross and was lifted on 60 minutes. Nate Jaqua's 6ft 3in frame should have been able to convert a cross, however, when Jaqua came on Seattle went from playing on the wing and crossing the ball to playing down the middle with the ball on the floor. A point shared was the correct result in this one.

Three things stood out in my mind in this match. First, both teams played at a very high pace in this match. It was up and down and the ball was being moved around very quickly; especially by Houston when they got position. Secondly, Seattle's midfield looked good, and could be the best midfield in the league. Mauro Rosales, Alvaro Fernandez, Osvaldo Alonso, Steve Zakuani and Erik Friberg is a midfield that should control every game. Unfortunately, Seattle just doesn't have the quality at the striker position. We've learned that Montero needs someone to play with just behind him. Freddie Ljundberg was that man in year one and last season Blaise N'Kufo took the pressure off Montero in the second half of the season. Friberg was excellent combining with Montero against New York in week 1, and Seattle needs more of that. Third, Seattle hasn't gotten that much better since their opening MLS campaign. The back four doesn't strike fear into the heart of opposing attacks, and the Seattle attack has gone backwards since Sebastion Le Toux was allowed to leave and with N'Kofu's release/retirement this season. Seattle will need their midfield to play well if they're going to do anything this season.

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