TUKWILA, Wash. – To say the Seattle Sounders are in the midst of a rough patch would be an understatement.
Already entrenched in a prolonged goalscoring drought and struggling to adapt to a roster decimated by a combination of injuries and international call-ups, the Sounders attacking corps was dealt yet another blow this week with Tuesday’s news that starting midfielder Marco Pappa was arrested near downtown Seattle on Sunday for speeding and driving under the influence.
The 27-year-old Guatemalan is now sidelined until further notice, pending an assessment by Major League Soccer’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program, a process that kept Philadelphia forward C.J. Sapong out for three games earlier this season.
Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid briefly addressed Pappa’s situation speaking with reporters after Seattle’s practice Tuesday, saying that the team will handle it with support and compassion.
“He’s a teammate, and we need to support him,” Schmid said. “I think all of us individually have probably known somebody or even had somebody we’re related to that’s gone through something like this. Right now he needs our support to come through this at the other end as a stronger person.”
The Sounders' objective now remains the same as they continue to search for a way to put an end to their offensive woes on the road this weekend against the Montreal Impact (Sat., 8 pm ET; MLS LIVE).
Also playing without forwards Clint Dempsey (US national team) and Obafemi Martins (groin injury), Seattle tried a new tactical wrinkle in last weekend’s 1-0 home loss to the Colorado Rapids – their fifth defeat in the last six games – trotting out a 4-3-3 formation with midfielders Cristian Roldan and Thomas playing forward with Lamar Neagle.
Although Seattle still couldn’t quite manage to find the back of the net with the new formation, Schmid said there were at least some encouraging moments from his squad’s attack that has struggled to finish chances without the star duo of Dempsey and Martins.
“I thought the midfield was fine [against Colorado],” Schmid said. “I think our ability to keep possession was good. We had a better rhythm than we did against Chicago [a 1-0 loss on July 11]. When we’re talking about the final 30 yards of the field, it’s got to be a little sharper, a little more quality to create a few more chances.”
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Neagle, who made 23 appearances for Montreal in 2012, said working through stretches like the one Seattle are currently experiencing is simply part of the grind that defines the MLS season.
“These are things that go along with every single season,” Neagle said. “It feels like every year we go on a little bit of a downturn and everybody kind of gets nervous. I think as a team, we’ve always stayed pretty levelheaded through it all. We know we’re a good team; we’re just going through a funk right now. We know we’re one of the best teams in MLS. “