Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Seattle slew

After repeated failures on the road in last year’s CONCACAF Champion's League, the Seattle Sounders still haven’t learned how to play the winning role.

Even with a team name like San Francisco FC in the mix, you didn’t need to see the bold blue letters reading "PANAMA" on the stands at Estadio Rommel Fernandez to know the Seattle Sounders were a long long way from home. Just like the Barcelona team after which they are modeled, the Sounders dominated possession. Unlike the Catalan giants however, they were naïve in defense and their dribbling maestro in Fredy Montero was largely absent throughout the match (highlight clip).

Where the most fluid MLS attacking outfit had an advantage in technical ability, San Francisco held the edge in athleticism. Rather than use their more refined brand of soccer to grind the hosts into submission - or at least a draw – they overexposed themselves repeatedly. When Jeff Parke’s sliding tackle in the box dragged his hand into grazing the ball, the penalty was promptly called and Roberto Brown buried the ensuing spot kick.

Undeniably, ref David España had opportunities to even out the decision in the second half, but the Sounders had equally frequent opportunities to equalize. They did not. Instead, they let the Panamanian club's superior athleticism be amplified by the sub-standard pitch. And for all their possession and skill, the Sounders seemed to be missing a key ingredient required for international success: the ability to grind out results on the road.

While the Sounders have been successful domestically this year, sitting on the Galaxy's heels and standing in the US Open Cup semis. Yet if they genuinely want to mirror their Spanish role models they will have to learn to win ugly when it counts.

With a crowded and travel heavy schedule ahead of the, the Sounders’ saving grace should be the return leg at home in front of their raucous fans.

-- Jacob Klinger

(photo: San Francisco FC)

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