TUKWILA, Wash. — Five different starting lineups. Two goals scored. Zero victories. Last place in the overall standings.
The Seattle Sounders seem to believe that each of those issues are at least somewhat connected and all of them were addressed to some extent in Monday’s training.
“We have to keep working on it,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said. “We just wanted to do something close to goal, work on finishing, get some patterns in. We have to continue to work on these things until the ice breaks.”
Schmid was not quite ready to declare any of his injured players ready to return, though. Evans (calf) and Johnson (hamstring) were full participants in training, but Estrada (eye) still hasn’t been cleared to head the ball and Martins (knee) was only used as a neutral.
Each of those four players have missed at least two league games this season, something Schmid feels has contributed to the slow start.
“You can’t say once those guys come back, all our problems are solved,” he said. “At the same time, the reality is that we haven’t had a full practice. We haven’t had a chance to work on any of these combinations with the whole group. We have played nine different lineups in nine games [including CONCACAF Champions League]. We’ve had to mix the lineup all the time. We haven’t found any consistency in that form.”
“You don’t want to point to that as an excuse, but we’re at a stage where we know we have to win. That’s the pressure we put on ourselves.”
Despite the franchise-worst start, and somewhat buoyed by performances in their past two games, the mood remains good around Sounders training.
“We know what we have in the locker room,” Sounders midfielder Shalrie Joseph said. “We know the potential we have on the team. We know that once we get out there are starting gelling together, it’s going to show. We know we’re one of the better teams in the league. But we can’t just say that, we have to go out and prove it week in and week out. It’s going to have to start this weekend.”