Seattle Sounders in a Slump


Jennifer Buchanan USA TODAY

Clint Dempsey, Jordan Morris, and Osvaldo Alonso in the game against Montreal.

Noelle Misterek

Calling all Sounders fans. Our beloved green-and-blue-clad soccer team can use all the support it can get this 2016 season. As the newest pro-sports team in Seattle, the Sounders have been wildly popular in recent years. The fans packing CenturyLink Field are famous as the largest, loudest, and most spirited crowd of supporters in all of Major League Soccer. The Sounders are probably the second-most popular and successful pro-team in Seattle (after the Seahawks, of course). In 2014, they had the best regular season record in the league and won the Supporters Shield. However, so far this season for the Sounders isn’t looking too bright, especially compared to their new neon blue soccer shorts.

The 2016 Sounders FC season opened with a 0-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City on March 6. Even in their home CenturyLink Field, Seattle couldn’t pull off the win. This was only the third time they have lost a season opener in eight seasons. Things already weren’t looking too hot.

The next week the Sounders traveled to Rio Tinto Stadium and lost again, this time 1-2 to Real Salt Lake. Although Seattle has not won a game in this stadium since 2012, it was still a shock and a disappointment, given  the Sounders were ranked 5 spots above Salt Lake at the end of the 2015 season.

Once again Seattle suffered a loss at home on March 19 against the Vancouver Whitecaps. The score was 1-2, with both of Vancouver’s goals scored off of penalty kicks. Was this just bad luck, or a lack of skill and formation? Whatever the reason, come April the Sounders had an abysmal record of 0-3. They had never started a season this badly.

Finally on April 2, the Sounders achieved their first victory and shut out the Montreal Impact 1-0. In their most recent game against the Houston Dynamo they tied 1-1. This was a slight improvement, but Seattle has yet to score more than one goal in a game and is currently ranked dead last in the Western Conference. What could be the cause of this so far unusually lousy season?

Like all professional sports teams, the Sounders’ roster has seen changes every season since it was established in 2007. The first great letdown was when talented goalkeeper Kasey Keller retired in 2011. This year, fans were upset at the departure of Nigerian forward Obafemi Martins, who joined the team in 2013 and helped lead them through their most successful season in 2014. Martins’ leaving definitely did no good for Seattle, and undoubtedly is part of the cause of their less than successful start of the season, especially their lack of goal production.

The  team is also seeing changes in formation strategy this season. Coach Sigi Schmid has faithfully used a formation of four defenders, four midfielders, and two forwards in the years past. However, this season he is switching it up, having his team practice in a 4-3-3 setup. In the game against Kansas City, he even jumbled them into a 3-5-2 formation. The first time using the 4-3-3 was in the match against Vancouver, and although the Sounders lost, Schmid was satisfied.

“There are still things we have to adjust, we have to tweak. That’s why you play games. It certainly answered some questions for us.” Schmid told Soccer by Ives.

Although the Sounders’ start to this season has not been ideal, the enthusiastic Seattle supporters are not giving up. Each home game has been packed with nearly 40,000 screaming, chanting, and jumping fans. Perhaps this ‘Rave Green’ crowd can cheer the team to more victories,, and turn the tide in favor of Seattle for the remainder of the season.