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The Recap

Columbus to host CF Monterrey tomorrow

The Columbus Crew host Liga MX powerhouse CF Monterrey on Wednesday night, starting their two-legged semifinal series in the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup. Kickoff is set for 8:15 pm ET on FS1 and TUDN.

Inter Miami’s Gómez out 6 weeks with ankle injury

Inter Miami CF midfielder Diego Gómez is expected to miss roughly six weeks after suffering a high-grade ankle sprain in the first half of the club's Matchday 10 victory over Nashville SC.

An outside view of Seattle

I’m not going to be able to dig into Seattle’s issues the same way the folks who cover the team on a day-to-day basis would be. If you want a frame-by-frame analysis of what’s going wrong and how it got there, head to them. That’s just the general rule for any team in any sport.

But if it’s just you and me, dear Daily Kickoff reader, and we’re both looking from afar, then I think we can team up and do enough to get a sense of just how bad things are and how long they might be bad for. Think of it more like a movie review rather than a 10-hour video essay breakdown of every scene.

Wait, why are we doing this for Seattle specifically?

Well, back in February, a collection of MLS “experts” like me got together and almost unanimously picked Seattle to finish first in the West. There were 17 votes. Seattle got 12 first-place votes. Only one person felt brave enough to pick them as low as third.

Me and Andrew Wiebe even picked them to win the Supporters’ Shield.

Uhhh why would you do that? Seems like a skill issue on your part?

I’ll stand by the logic. Kind of.

The idea centered around a sense that the East is really good with really good teams and the West, from top to bottom, is not that. Seattle didn’t have to worry about playing genuine MLS Cup contenders every other week and didn’t have Concacaf Champions Cup to worry about like Inter Miami, Columbus and FC Cincinnati would.

Seattle earned 53 points last season and had the best defense in MLS. Per FBref, they allowed 32 goals on 32.2 xG allowed. They didn’t luck into that kind of performance. However, they did luck into a relatively mediocre goal output. Seattle had the fifth-highest xG created in the West at 48.1. They only scored 41 goals, though. Some combo of bad luck and bad finishing kept them from capitalizing on the chances they created. Now, hold that thought…

Even with fair concerns about the group needing a refresh, only LAFC and Columbus had a better expected goal differential in 2023. LAFC lost multiple starters. The Crew seemed primed for a run in CCC. And Seattle, while largely remaining stable, added an exciting young DP attacker named Pedro de la Vega into the mix.

Seems like an obvious formula to earn a lot of points in 2024, right?


Right, clearly wrong.

The Sounders are 12th in the West and have six more points than you and I do in 2024. They have one win and four losses in their first eight games. This week’s loss felt especially humbling. The Sounders had as many red cards (2) as they did goals allowed directly from giveaways in front of goal (2). Regardless of whether or not you agree with the call on the first red card (it’s doubtful you do!), it’s as low a point as I can remember for Seattle. Even in the 2022 season where they missed the playoffs for the first time ever, they had the whole “first MLS team to win Concacaf Champions League” thing to lean back on.

This is their worst-ever start to a season through eight games and, in addition to not being able to catch a break with injuries, they’re starting to shoot themselves in the foot. Negative feedback loops are a pretty powerful thing in MLS. It’s tough to drag yourself out of a spiral. And, oh man, have y’all seen their upcoming schedule?

They travel to a better-than-their-record D.C. team this weekend, head out to unbeaten Philadelphia on Tuesday, host the first-place Galaxy the next Sunday, play a U.S. Open Cup game against Louisville City FC three days later, travel to face a Portland team that’s had their number lately four days after that, head to Salt Lake for a midweek matchup with Chicho Arango, and then host the same Vancouver team they just lost to that weekend. That’s two games a week against stiff competition starting now through most of May. It’s a bad time to be spiraling.



There’s reason to believe Seattle can still course correct. We mentioned it yesterday, but, per American Soccer Analysis, the chances Seattle have created and allowed put them at a projected 1.54 expected points per game rate. Only one team in MLS is underperforming their expected points rate by a larger margin. On top of that, ASA’s “goals added” metric has the Sounders with the third-best G+ differential in MLS.

Basically, Seattle haven’t stopped getting the ball into better positions than their opponents. They are doing it in a different manner than last year’s group, though. Last year’s group allowed just 0.95 xG per game defensively. This year’s is allowing 1.24. Last year’s group put up 1.41 xG created per game. This year’s is outpacing that with a rate of 1.55 xG created per game. Only five teams in the West have a better rate of xG created per game.

Now, just imagine what they could do with de la Vega healthy again.


But, penalties are inflating their xG created. Seattle lead the league with four this season.

The leading non-penalty goal scorer for Seattle is… well, it’s five people, all tied with one open play goal a piece. Some of the same xG underperformance in attack that plagued Seattle in 2023 is causing issues this year, too. However, as of now, it’s not bad enough to suggest everyone has forgotten how to finish. Jordan Morris has one goal on 2.1 non-penalty xG. Raúl Ruidíaz has one non-penalty goal on 1.8 non-penalty xG. Alex Roldan has one non-penalty goal on 1.2 non-penalty xG.

Overall, the Sounders have five goals from 9.3 non-penalty xG. That’s salvageable with just a couple of games where luck goes their way. We’re not quite talking about a full-blown underperformance crisis. Just a small one that feels big early in the season. It’s an issue being compounded by a lack of top-tier chance creation. Seattle’s 1.16 non-penalty xG per game is the 16th-best in the league.

So is this good or bad?

It’s… middling. It’s fair to think Seattle can be fine enough in attack with just a little more luck and maybe even good once Pedro de la Vega gets back (whenever that is). It’s also fair to think they may be too far gone by the time he returns to salvage this. This next stretch is brutal and they aren’t executing as a cohesive unit the way we’re used to seeing. This quote from Cristian Roldan (via Sounder At Heart) stood out.

“We talked about the energy and using it the right way and that’s something we need to bring back,” Roldan said. “We have to do it in a controlled manner. We have to have each other’s backs. This is going to be the toughest stretch of the season, a lot of games, a lot of games on the road. We’re going to need bodies and we’re going to need to have each other’s back going into these games.”

Clearly, that has to change. And there are signs that it will. But how much longer do they have before those changes come too late?

Well, it’s MLS, so probably, like, August? Actually, on second thought, this could all be fine.

Other things

Houston Dynamo acquire Gaines from Nashville SC: Houston Dynamo FC . Gaines, 26, has three goals and six assists in 55 MLS matches across time with Nashville, Charlotte FC and Austin FC. The former US youth international has also played for several clubs in Germany.

Real Salt Lake's Arango named Player of the Matchday: Cristian Arango's standout form continued with a massive Matchday 10 performance that saw the Real Salt Lake striker earn MLS Player of the Matchday for the second time this season. Arango notched 2g/2a for RSL in Saturday's 4-0 rout at Chicago Fire FC, claiming Matchday 10 honors less than a month after taking Matchday 7's top prize for a hat-trick performance in a 3-1 win over St. Louis CITY SC.

The Reading Rainbow
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Good luck out there. Take care of your house.