I know you’re tempted, Sounders fans.
You’re sitting up there in Seattle, frustrated by your team’s tepid 0-3-0 start, and you want to freak out. You don’t just want to reach for that panic button, you want to smash it to bits.
Don’t do it. Take a deep breath. Chill out. Listen to Herc:
Oh, and for whatever it's worth.. Panic in October, never in March. 12/20...— herculez gomez (@herculezg) March 20, 2016
Gomez, who had a brief trial with Seattle last week, has been through the wars, and he knows what he’s talking about. Playoff berths aren’t won or lost in March, and champions aren’t made until October, November and December. Seattle have plenty of time to get their act together.
That’s not to say this Sounders team doesn’t have issues. They do, particularly in the attack. Seattle’s offense has been relatively listless in 2016, scoring just two goals – only one of which was from the run of play – in their three MLS games.
They don’t have a true No. 10 on the roster, and they don’t have Obafemi Martins around to mask their lack of midfield creativity. Clint Dempsey, Nelson Valdez and Jordan Morris haven’t yet figured out how to play together up top. Their non-existent chemistry, coupled with the lack of a creative midfielder to make things happen through the middle, have made Seattle overly reliant on flank play.
Building up on the wings and whipping in the ball is a fine strategy – provided you have a fantastic No. 9 to bang home all those crosses. The Sounders don’t. Dempsey, Valdez and Morris are all talented, but none of them are that guy. Unless those three suddenly figure out how to create chances on their own, the Sounders will continue to have issues scoring in their current setup.
It’s not all bleak for Seattle, however. They have tons of time, tons of talent and a little bit of history on their side. Plenty of teams have started seasons poorly and gone on to bigger and better things. We only need to look at the 2015 season for a couple of examples. The New York Red Bulls were 4-5-5 through 14 games last year and went on to win the Supporters’ Shield, and the Portland Timbers were below the red line in October before they got hot and ran all the way to MLS Cup.
There have even been a couple of teams who started 0-3-0 and brought home some silverware, with the 2004 Columbus Crew and 2007 D.C. United both winning the Shield after losing their first three matches.
More importantly, Seattle recognize that they have a problem. Head coach Sigi Schmid is clearly motivated to get things on the right track, telling reporters after Saturday’s loss to Vancouver that “we’ve got to start getting some results or quite a few of us could be looking for new jobs.”
GM Garth Lagerwey seems to be working toward a solution, as well. He’s reportedly chasing a “chance creator” midfielder to fill Martins’ vacated Designated Player slot, and he should have plenty of room to pull off another significant move, too. Seattle could even add their DP before the primary transfer window closes on May 11. If not, they could sign him when the secondary window opens on July 4, at which point the Sounders will be heading into their 17th game – the halfway point of the regular season.
Seattle have a history of making league-shifting in-season additions, and more than enough time and talent to figure it all out. The first three games have shown that they need to make some tweaks, but if I’m a Sounders fan, I have plenty of faith that my team will get things together well before it’s too late.