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Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - Page updated at 09:00 p.m.
Sounders show signs of pulling out of their recent funk
By Joshua Mayers
Seattle Times staff reporter
TUKWILA — Probably a C-plus or B-minus.
That's how Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid would grade his team at the midway point of the MLS regular season.
But at a natural point to make evaluations, Seattle's year more easily breaks down into quarters — a valedictorian-esque 7-1-1 start followed by a failing 0-4-4 winless streak.
"It's been a tale of two halves," said midfielder Brad Evans. "I guess you take the first quarter of the season and say that was our best and the second quarter was our worst. Hopefully, things are starting to turn in the right direction."
Even as the underachieving Sounders approach two months without a league win, there have been encouraging signs in the past two games. A hard-fought 1-0 road win last week in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals won't count in the standings, but beating MLS leader San Jose helped restore confidence and team spirit.
Saturday, Seattle nearly broke through for a road win in New England, but a late defensive breakdown — not to mention some questionable officiating — led to a tie.
The Sounders enter the second half of the season with much to prove.
"We've got to get back to playing a little bit like we were at the beginning of the year," Schmid said, "but I've been pleased with our mentality and the way we've approached the last two games."
Evans credited improved play to a team-wide attitude adjustment, "kind of looking at ourselves and saying those previous couple games just weren't good enough."
"Effort-wise it wasn't there," he said. "We thought things were going to come easily. We kind of got caught in a rut, and when that happens in this league, it's a slippery slope."
The Sounders can take comfort in previous summer surges.
Since joining MLS in 2009, Seattle has the best league record from July 1 through the end of the season — a combined 26-10-9 over three years. The team has won 10 games from July on in each of the past two seasons.
"Hopefully," said forward Eddie Johnson, "we can continue that this year."
• Goalkeeper Andrew Weber was scheduled to undergo an MRI Monday after leaving Saturday's game in New England with an adductor (thigh) strain. Michael Gspurning, who has missed 10 games with a hip injury, has begun training again and a timeline for his return will be clearer by week's end.
• Schmid said a lack of production in certain areas of the field has the Sounders rethinking their approach to the transfer window, the monthlong period when MLS teams can sign international players. While it's tough to make significant changes midway through the season, "you can add some things here and there," the coach said. "I don't know if it's a one-for-one (transaction) or it's adding somebody and changing a little bit how you play. Those are things we're kicking around right now."
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or email@example.com.Room for improvement
The Sounders have finished each season stronger than they started since joining MLS as an expansion team in 2009:
Year/First half/Second half
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