The STATE of Soccer in WASHINGTON
The Wash is David Falk’s take on the world of soccer in The WA.
by David Falk
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are in the midst of the worst MLS season ever for Sounders FC, and only a playoff drive of epic proportions can redirect us.
Worst season? Didn’t the Sounders make the 2012 US Open Cup final? Sure did, and lost it for the first time in four seasons.
Worst season? Didn’t the Sounders just advance to the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League? Sure did, in a weak division, after having done the same in a tougher division last year.
Are we spoiled? Of course we are, but it is the Sounders themselves who have set the bar high and continually raised expectations. We want more, not less.
Let’s look at what has already been wasted away, and what is left to earn:
Maybe it is a little bit easier to look at the negatives after Saturday’s dismal showing against the better San Jose Earthquakes. The Sounders were lost in the first half, and only pressured in the second when they were left with little other choice. You try and figure out how a club could be so flat in such an important match. Of course “flat” has happened a few times this year, as the club seems to doggedly focus on the endgame. Hey, I can’t really blame the Sounders for putting as many eggs in the basket as possible behind winning MLS Cup, a goal that doesn’t kick in until the playoffs. A fan on our boards suggested bubble-wrapping Mauro Rosales until then.
It’s just that the Sounders are so ordinary without Rosales and Johnson, and so prone to show up flat just when the rest of the universe thinks they have a big match at hand. (Pretty-much all of the Cascadia Cup contests, pretty-much all of the club’s playoff history in MLS, many matches against San Jose and LA are examples). Flat, flat, flat. I am looking at you, Sigi Schmid.
While we are at it, I am not thrilled with the play of Michael Gspurning in goal, either. He’s great in the air, but far too slow going to the ground. Get fit ASAP, Marcus Hahnemann. How about the total ineptitude of Adam Johansson on Saturday? Yikes. And what was with Schmid praising the play of loafing Sammy Ochoa, who often got out of position and forced Brad Evans off the wing and into the box? I thought Sammy, who scored in mid-week in the CCL, was poor. “Slowchoa” was the phrase of the night. On the wing? Hopeless.
In the end, this mish-mash season of Eddie Johnson headers and mix and match lineups has accomplished almost nothing new. We are all treading water towards the playoffs with hopes that then some magic potion will be opened that sets the Sounders on a course of wild abandon to MLS Cup…a final they likely won’t host because of their regular season blahs.
How important is winning MLS Cup to the franchise? Eventually it means everything.
Recently others are rumbling about playoffs and league championships, too.
“This is their year, it almost has to be. While another postseason failure wouldn’t impact their home attendance, it’ll affect their credibility of being a legitimate contender.
Any sound that goes on long enough eventually stops having an impact. You adjust, and it’s background noise. Without a championship, that’s Seattle. With a championship, they’re the biggest thing going in Major League Soccer,” writes Cesar Diaz.
“Everybody’s looking at the statistics, “ooooh” the attendances, “oooooh” for goals. What does it mean? We want to win a championship,” says Christian Tiffert.
I stood with the Emerald City Supporters on Saturday and watched the fans, the pageantry that is match day in Seattle. Then I saw a club show up uninspired, flat, looking much the lesser squad to league-leading San Jose. I didn’t see Johnson (yellow card accumulation) and Rosales (resting injuries). I didn’t see much hope of accomplishing anything before the playoffs.
When they come, it’s all or nothing, it’s MLS Cup or bust. The Sounders have played themselves into a narrow season that only a league title can rescue.