Sounders FC hoping to snap draw streak
Sounders FC fans want to see wins after five straight draws, and the team is trying to get back into the win column.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Sounders FC @ Chivas USA, 7:30 p.m., KONG
Latest from the Sounders FC blog
TUKWILA — Sounders FC fans are fit to be tied.
Many have grown tired of draws by their beloved Rave Green. Five in a row, and such results aren't helping Sounders FC move up the standings in Major League Soccer's Western Conference. In that stretch, Seattle has lost its hold on second place and dropped to third.
The ties, worth only a point in the standings as opposed to three for a win and zero for a loss, aren't overly detrimental, either. Players and coach Sigi Schmid have a slightly different outlook compared to fans.
"Picking up points doesn't get old. Losing gets old, that's for sure," Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller said. "So far we haven't done a whole lot of that. So that's cool. I think tying at home gets old, I mean, I don't mind tying on the road. ... It's always nice not to go too long without getting home wins."
Schmid also emphasized winning at home.
"We're not happy about them, and it's something we want to eliminate," he said of the draws. "We want to win games at home. If we can tie on the road, great, but we want to win games at home and we want to win games on the road as well. We want to get three points as often as possible."
Two of the five draws have come at Qwest Field, games in which Sounders FC outplayed its opponents yet failed to convert on chances to score. But Seattle (4-2-5) is hardly the only MLS team with drawing power, so to speak — 39 percent of all regular-season matches have ended deadlocked.
On average, every MLS team has at least four ties. In 86 games this season, 33 have ended in a tie. The Los Angeles Galaxy is 1-1-9 this season, the nine being its number of ties.
"I guess the Bruce Arena line was 'tying is better than losing,' " Schmid said, referring to the Galaxy coach. "So I guess when you've had whatever they've [L.A. Galaxy] had, eight or nine ties in a row, that's a fair statement to make. Ties are better than losing for sure. Sometimes a loss stings a little deeper, so maybe it wakes you up a little bit, and ties sometimes don't wake you up."
No one is making any excuses for tie games. Schmid argued that Sounders FC has played good teams of late and that his team shouldn't be ashamed of ties, but must do a "little bit more to turn those ties into wins."
There are reasons for the league trend. Parity is one. Scheduling is another, and so is the lack of a dominant dynasty type of team. But the biggest explanation for so many draws, says Keller, is the league salary cap that acts as a great equalizer.
"There's no Barcelonas in this league. There's no Manchester Uniteds. There's no New York Yankees. There's no team that has $100 million more payroll than somebody else and can obviously benefit greatly from that," Keller said.
And as far as Sounders FC goes?
"What you're finding now is teams coming to our place and really playing defensive," Keller said. "They'll try to hit us on the counter a little bit. For the most part, they're not going to push forward like maybe some of the earlier teams [this season] did, because they're thinking 'You know what? I think a draw in Seattle is a good result for us.' "
Sounders FC has been missing key players for games over the run of draws. Starters Freddie Ljungberg, Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso and James Riley have each missed at least one game due to injury or suspension. The team is still searching for a consistent group of 11 starters that can develop cohesion.
"The things that separate the bottom teams from the top teams, it's not a lot," forward Nate Jaqua said. "It's the little things. It's the players that step up every game and go to battle every game. That's the intangible, and that's what everybody's trying to figure out."
Midfielder Peter Vagenas has seen his share of draws over a 10-year MLS career. He said draws have been "abnormally high" this season, and isn't a big fan of parity.
"Ties aren't necessarily good, but at the end of the day they are points," Vagenas reasoned. "As long as you continue to move forward, whether you like it or not, the ties do add up in the end."
José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 8:54 PM
Sounders lose to another expansion team
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.