Sounders losing the battle on the road
Sounders FC is on pace for its first season with a losing record on the road. Players said allowing untimely goals and having a less aggressive attack are some of the reasons why.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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TUKWILA — Only two MLS teams have gone at least .500 on the road in each of the past four seasons: the two-time champion Los Angeles Galaxy and Sounders FC.
An exclusive group, to be sure.
Truth is, Seattle was comfortable playing away from home its very first road game as an expansion franchise in 2009, a 2-0 win against Toronto FC.
And some of the biggest achievements in franchise history have come away from soccer-crazed CenturyLink Field — winning the 2009 U.S. Open Cup, becoming the second American team to win in Mexico and ending some of MLS’s longest home unbeaten streaks at Columbus and Real Salt Lake.
That trend hasn’t continued this season.
The Sounders are 3-5-1 on the road and have been outscored 13-7. The five losses, including two in a row, are already more than the team suffered in 2011 and 2012; three defeats have been by two or more goals, exceeding the past two years combined.
Players credited a few reasons for the struggles after Monday’s practice.
“I think giving up untimely goals has been one,” said midfielder Brad Evans.
Of the 13 goals allowed, nine have come in the first half and three have come right before the halftime whistle.
Slow starts carry over to the second half, as well, where three of the four goals allowed after halftime have come within six minutes of the break.
“Maybe the issue this year is we’re giving teams a little too much respect,” defender Zach Scott said. “I think we have to get back to going into games kind of in all-out attack mode, which is what we’ve done in the past. We haven’t gone into any stadium, no matter how good they are, and bunkered down. We need to get back to that and just attack, attack, attack.”
The Sounders, despite their weapons, are on pace to average less than a goal per road game for the first time.
Going forward, Seattle might get an assist from the schedule, as only one of the next four road opponents is in playoff position.
A lot can change as the Sounders also look to get healthy and maintain a consistent starting lineup, which hasn’t come easily. The summer transfer window, when teams can sign players from leagues worldwide, opens Tuesday and can also change the direction of a season.
“We’re halfway there,” said coach Sigi Schmid, whose team once went 10 road games without defeat, the second-longest streak in MLS history.
“We still have a lot more games to go on the road. Early in the season we lost some games that didn’t feel good ... (where we didn’t compete), but I feel confident that we’ll get some more road wins.”
• Goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann and midfielder Andy Rose suffered hamstring injuries in Sunday’s MLS Reserve League game at Vancouver, a 4-0 loss. Each could be out a couple of weeks, according to Schmid. Pool goalkeeper Doug Herrick, a Seattle native, could be needed as a backup for Saturday’s road game at San Jose.
• Midfielder Alex Caskey might require surgery on a nagging ankle injury, which could also keep him out a couple of weeks. Schmid said this weekend was a test to see if Caskey’s ankle was better or not, “and he struggled with it in (Sunday’s game), so we’ll probably make a decision early this week.”
• Vancouver goalkeeper Brad Knighton, who made a career-high seven saves in Saturday’s win against Seattle, was voted MLS Player of the Week.
|Sounders FC’s 104 points on the road are second most in MLS since joining in 2009 (L.A. Galaxy, 113).|
|Year||Road record||Goal differential||Multigoal losses|
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @joshuamayers.