It’s a trying time to be a Sounders supporter. The past two years have seen varying degrees of late season non-finishers. From nearly clinching the Supporter’s Shield to our first loss of the USOC to the Great Implosion of 2013, the Sounders as a team have tried our loyalty. That was a right thumping by Real Salt Lake. It wasn’t an unexpected form from them. They played well. The Sounders played reactively, which hasn’t suited them as of late. They still have 12 more games in the regular season. I say the next four are where they need to dig deep, find strength and focus as a team, and go big. I honestly wouldn’t mind if they lost as long as they played well (some would argue that playing well should not result in a loss. I digress). That first game of four will start with the mid-week tweekers of MLS, the San Jose Earthquakes.
It is no secret that San Jose wants a rival. A dyed-in-the-wool rival that can elevate their game and draw crowds. Similar to what Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver have. And so they settled on coaxing Seattle with a billboard (similar to Portland’s infamous taunt) and ruffling a few Twitter feathers. One of them being mine. I’ve never liked San Jose but it has to do with how annoying they are not the damned Heritage Cup. What they are doing is forcing an issue into becoming a reality and instead it’s just transforming into a piece of California plastic hardware.
It goes without saying that the Sounders need the win to get back on top of the MLS standings. Oba and Dempsey need to find their way past Jon Busch and there is couple of ways of going about that. Fancy footwork causes a lot of chaos and confusion and the guys paired with Barrett and Pappa have proven they can do the one-touch tango with the best of soccer players. They have to get selfish though and take the distance shots. You see an opening, trust your midfield and take the damned shot. Crosses aren’t going to work unless you’ve frazzled their defense and we haven’t done that lately to any team. Mix ups are the name of the game now and flipping the script on how Oba and Dempsey attack needs to happen if they expect double-digit goal stats by the end of the season.
Speaking of midfield and defense, I was quite proud of them. They looked on form and Ozzie’s own goal can only be chalked up to how hard he tried to save it. Trust me, there is no good goddamned way any goalie is saving that. Leo was spectacular and Marshall did Marshall things. With San Jose settling back into thuggery, I expect our midfield to bring the pain and not put up with any of their shenanigans. Oh, one more thing: No Anibaba. None. Zilch. I don’t want to see him on the field at all. I want see someone marking Wondolowski and never taking the gas off. Don’t give the man a chance for a goal let alone an assist. This means no Anibaba.
It’s time to get back on the horse and not panic. With 12 games (and the insufferable “2-in-hand” rhetoric being spewed), the Sounders can still make a true push for glory and not burn themselves out. We cannot be that team that almost makes it every year. Let that be Houston. They’ve earned the title.
ON YOU SOUNDERS!
Prediction: Sounders 2, San Jose 1