TUKWILA, Wash. – The month of August just can’t come soon enough for the struggling Seattle Sounders.
The Rave Green are coming off one of their tougher months in recent memory – a July where the Sounders only scored one goal in four games, and did little to remedy a recent stretch of listless attacking play that actually dates back to June, when Seattle initially lost star strikers Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins.
All told, Seattle are a brutal 1-6-0 since June 24 and have fallen from Supporters’ Shield leaders to fifth in the tightly-contested Western Conference ahead of Saturday’s Cascadia Cup showdown at home against the Vancouver Whitecaps (10 pm ET; TSN1 in Canada, MLS LIVE in US).
It’s a stretch of goalscoring futility that at least two Sounders veterans say very well could be unprecedented in their time with the squad.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had a month like this in years past,” said captain Brad Evans on Monday, freshly returned from his US national team duty at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Said defender Zach Scott said after Seattle’s latest 1-0 defeat to the Montreal Impact last weekend: “It’s hard to put in to words because I’ve never been a part of a Sounders team where everything has kind of gone wrong at one time.”
At least one parallel can be found in Seattle’s late-season collapse in 2013, which saw the Sounders go 0-4-3 over their final seven matches, leading to an early playoff exit and a large-scale retooling of the roster in the subsequent offseason.
But even then, Seattle at least managed to score five goals in those seven matches.
“We’ve tried different things,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said of the recent slump on Tuesday. “We’ve played with one [forward] high and three underneath. We’ve played with three high with a forward and two wingers. We’ve tried to play with an attacking midfielder underneath the center forward. We’ve tried to spread the three midfielders.
“At the end of the day, I’ve always said, it’s not about formations it’s about guys playing well. Right now, some guys are just not performing up to their standard.”
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Despite the recent struggles and undeniably troubling lack of production without some of their regular starters, the Sounders say the combination of a clean slate and a collection of returning faces mean there is reason for cautious optimism in the Emerald City as the calendar turns to August.
Dempsey and Evans have completed their Gold Cup duty and are set to return. Martins, meanwhile, is gradually rounding back to full health after suffering a strained adductor that has kept him out of action since Seattle’s infamous US Open Cup loss to the Portland Timbers on June 16.
And, even with the six losses in their last seven matches, the Sounders are also still somehow only six points back of Western Conference-leading FC Dallas, meaning one sustained run of positive results can put them right back in Supporters’ Shield contention.
“We’re hungry to get back into it and get on a winning streak,” Evans said. “The attitude is great at practice. Everybody’s working. Nobody’s throwing in the towel by any means. It’s just coming in the locker room, putting some smiles on the faces and getting back to work.”