Strikers are striking out in preseason
Fredy Montero, Steve Zakuani, Blaise Nkufo and Alvaro Fernandez are scoreless in nine preseason games, aside from two penalty kicks by Montero.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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TUKWILA — Sounders FC's customary qualifier for any early struggles is: "It's just preseason."
But according to coach Sigi Schmid, there's a bit more worry than that, especially regarding the team's top four attacking options, which went scoreless again in Friday night's 2-0 loss to rival Portland.
Fredy Montero, Steve Zakuani, Blaise Nkufo and Alvaro Fernandez are scoreless in nine preseason games, aside from two penalty kicks by Montero. The starters will likely rest in Sunday's exhibition against Vancouver, leaving one final preseason game Wednesday against Colorado to score in the run of play before the season opener.
"Yeah, it's a concern," Schmid said Saturday after training. "It's something they need to look at and something we need to look at as well. ... I think we're around it, we're close to it, but that front four hasn't scored yet. They need to get on the scoreboard. If they're saving them all for the season, I'm OK with that."
That would be ideal, but preseason scoring struggles aren't exclusive to this season. Last year Seattle failed to score a goal in its final two preseason games against Portland (a 1-0 loss at home) and Vancouver (a 0-0 draw on the road), then followed it up by starting the season a disappointing 4-8-3.
Sounders FC's situation isn't nearly that dire. Yet.
And the trend of missing chances and giving up soft goals is something Seattle's fans are familiar with.
Considering the challenge of playing on a small, narrow field like the one at Starfire Sports Complex, Schmid said his team moved the ball extremely well Friday. Fans generally prefer an attractive style of play, Schmid said, but there's a balance between playing well and playing effectively.
"No matter how well you play, if you're behind at the end of the day on the score line that's not going to make the fans happy either," said Schmid, whose team outshot the Timbers 18-7.
Controlling the game only matters so much, he added. In the end a coach is judged on wins and losses.
"I was watching a game this morning, you look at Bayern Munich and a guy like (coach) Louis van Gaal — he was on top of the world last year," said Schmid referencing the German team's success in 2010.
Bayern Munich won the German Cup, the Bundesliga title and advanced to the UEFA Champions League final. This year the team is struggling and van Gaal is in danger of being fired.
"They're in fourth place and that's unacceptable," Schmid said. "It's the same thing (as us), they created chances and didn't finish."
Schmid is hoping a little preseason concern will be the worst of it for Sounders FC.
Timbers, Whitecaps tie
At the Starfire Sports Complex, the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps FC played to a physical 1-1 draw Saturday at the Cascadia Summit, a match that featured five yellow cards and 35 fouls.
Portland scored in the fifth minute when midfielder Ryan Pore finished off a miss by forward Brian Umony, but that lead was canceled in the 36th minute on an own goal by Timbers defender David Horst.
• In a summit with supporters, Timbers owner Merritt Paulson and Sounders FC's part owner and general manager Adrian Hanauer answered questions and addressed the issues of the fans: including this year's away fan ticket allocations of 500, ensuring safety of traveling supporters in high-intensity rivalry matches and the future of the Cascadia Summit.
Later the coaches of the three Pacific Northwest rivals — Vancouver's Teitur Thordarson, Portland's John Spencer and Schmid — fielded questions.
• More than 5,000 tickets have been sold for Sounders FC's Community Shield match Wednesday against the Colorado Rapids. Tickets are available through the team website, Ticketmaster and the Qwest Field box office.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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