The 3-1 setback came on the heels of consecutive shutout defeats. The Loons are 17th out of 28 teams league-wide in xG at 14.85 and have scored 12 goals this season – but six came in back-to-back wins over the Colorado Rapids and Chicago Fire FC in Weeks 7 and 8.
So it begs the question: Why can’t MNUFC score more goals?
It's a query head coach Adrian Heath pondered after they fell to 1W-10L-1D all-time against the Sounders. Their negative-17 goal differential against Seattle is their worst against any club.
“We just have to stop making the mistakes or we start changing personnel. We can’t keep doing it,” Heath said after the match. "It’s not like we weren’t prepared. It’s not like we didn’t play well, we didn’t have a good shape. Everything about the group today was spot on. Maybe the final ball and maybe there were opportunities we didn’t take. How we only had one goal to show for our attacking with our play in the first half is beyond me.”
The repetitive nature of self-inflicted wounds is what irks Heath the most.
“I seem to be saying the same thing. I’m sick to the back teeth of it. We can’t keep doing what we’re doing,” he said. “If teams are going to beat us, let them beat us through their good play. Not by us giving them opportunities by stupid mistakes. And that’s what we’re doing at the moment.”
The guys at Extratime also discussed this dilemma, with Matt Doyle agreeing with Heath’s tact of trying to press higher up the field to create more high-quality scoring chances.
But his personnel may not fit a pressing model, with Finnish international Robin Lod often cast in the No. 9 role instead of out wide.
“Their wingers do not create chances. They do not find high-level chances,” Doyle said. “Lod creates a lot of havoc with his movement, both defensively and in attack, because he always pulls out to the wings, he opens up space for guys to attack the center backs. But none of those wingers take that space and turn it into goals or assists.”
Emanuel Reynoso has the keys to the attack, and the No. 10 has two goals and three assists in 11 matches. But MNUFC are seemingly overly reliant on their Designated Player’s ability to create chances.
“Other than Bebelo, there's nobody on that roster in attack who makes the guys around them better,” Doyle said. “And that's a real problem, and that's a massive difference from what they had two years ago. Do you remember 2020 playoffs, that team? It wasn't just Bebelo; it was Kevin Molino, Ethan Finlay on the other side.”
Adrien Hunou was thought to be an answer when he signed as a DP striker from Ligue 1's Stade Rennais last year. But the Frenchman has no goals to his name in 2022 and has recorded just 85 minutes of action in six appearances (one start).
The club also brought back striker Luis Amarilla this past offseason, also on a DP deal. The Paraguayan international has two goals in 10 matches this year.
“It seems like he went and found a center forward who can be a creator out of that center forward position, and then you sign a second DP center forward  months later and buried him on the bench,” Extratime's David Gass said. "That’s the only piece to me that makes more sense, also because Lod's better on the wing than up top just because he gets in more comfortable spots and he is a very good player.”
Last weekend, it was clear to Calen Carr there was a “talent gap" between the Sounders and Loons.
“You were able to see with [Albert] Rusnak and all these different players on Seattle, they just had a much stronger team,” he said.
Minnesota are 10th in the Western Conference standings (4W-5L-2D), just one point below the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs line. Doyle said they largely have the heroics of goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair to thank for not being buried even further back in the West.
“If it wasn't for Dayne St. Clair, who has been the best goalkeeper in the league by a mile, honestly maybe the most important all-around player in the league this year – he's been that good – this team would be hurt real, real bad,” Doyle said.
Minnesota will look to bounce back in Week 12 when hosting the LA Galaxy on Wednesday night (8 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+). Then on Sunday, as part of Week 13, they travel to high-flying FC Dallas in search of an upset result (7 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+).
For more Extratime analysis from Week 11, check the latest episode here.