Round 7 vs Columbus Crew
The two-time defending Supporter Shield winners bring their top rated brand of MLS soccer to Seattle. Holding onto the best record in the MLS the last two years means something special is going on in Columbus. The something is really someone. His name, Guillermo Barros Schelotto. He’s probably the best complete player in MLS as well as biggest difference maker. Columbus Crew’s march to become 2008 MLS Cup Champions was led by Seattle’s own Sigi Schmid, who considers Schelotto the most complete player he has coached. So this Round 7 match vs Columbus is Sigi old vs Sigi new.
You can’t stop Guillermo Barros Schelotto. The smart choice is to contain and limit his attack options. Seattle’s defense is capable of that. A fun match-up to watch is Frankie Hejduk vs Steve Zakuani. It’s defense vs offense. Hejduk, a former US National Team player goes forward often. That could force Zakuani to play a deeper more defensive role. If our midfield can control possession and tempo, that will limit Hejduk’s forward involvement and allow Zakuani to support Seattle offensive threats. This becomes more important because of Schelotto. If Schelotto has a full arsenal of weapons at his disposal he will hit you with something. If you limit his artillery of surrounding teammates joining in attacks, then Sounders give themselves a chance.
This should prove one of the more fun matches to watch. Both teams build attacks and play to score. Both are capable of sitting back and defending, but neither coach plays that style. Both keepers will have to show up for work. As for me, i recommend you forget records and enjoy two teams that bring the best brand of American style of soccer to MLS. Both these American teams have been developed by one of the best American coaches, Sigi Schmid.
Sounders FC 1 – Columbus Crew 1
Steve Zakuani burst out of the gate with Sounders FC’s fastest goal in minute 4. The entire Sounders team seemed poised to join Zakuani, as practically every player set up or took a shot at Columbus goal. Somehow, not even the kitchen sink found Columbus net. So all it took Columbus was a momentary Sounders snooze during first half stoppage time that allowed an unmanned Steve Lenhart to head in a well placed cross from Danny O’Rourke off the left-wing. Nothing remarkable and easily defendable. That brief lapse is all that is needed against the Sounders. Until, the 2nd and 3rd goals become more frequent, that will continue to be all that other teams need. Just that one blinking mistake.
Sounders looked more like a top rated soccer team. Eventually they will act like one on the score sheet. The results will come. Many more draws will become wins than losses for this club. The result wasn’t there, but the game was more enjoyable than most in the league. Bias? Yes and no. I am biased. I have also watched a lot of other MLS. There is a lot more midfield defense than there is midfield build up and attack. in MLS. Many teams have gone with the trendy 4-5-1 formation this year. Which in American soccer translates to more guys in the middle available to transition to defense. Colorado is using that formation well. The sounders employed a 4-3-3. What made this formation work for the Sounders was how it allowed them to switch between patiently building an attack with controlled passing, and firing the ball forward to chase down or create breakaways. It kept Columbus on their heels. You could tell they didn’t like it. They aren’t used to playing that much defense. But Columbus hung on. The really good news for Sounders, if they play like that the rest of the season, they will only find 3 or 4 teams who will hang on like Columbus. The Sounders test now is committing to that style. It seems to me they found an attacking formation, that allowed them to keep their strong defensive shape and yet get forward quickly. Sometimes even using the fullbacks to bring them forward.
Committing to the 4-3-3 may be a good way to assert a unique style compared to most American teams. It breaks down to a 4-2-1-3. From the start it shows the Sounders confidence in their back four. It also means when the Sounders attackers get aligned on the same page, they will be taking turns assisting and scoring multiple goals per game.
With LA Galaxy on the immediate horizon, I feel a sense of confidence working its way into the club. Just in time to give that undefeated club a knock back to reality.