Sounders forward coterie like ‘amoeba’

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.comSeptember 15, 2013 

Seventy-five minutes into the Seattle Sounders FC match against Real Salt Lake on Friday, forwards Eddie Johnson, Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins and Lamar Neagle shared the pitch for the first time.

And while it’s a nice problem to have, even coach Sigi Schmid admits he had to get creative with the formation he inserted to accommodate all that firepower.

“We can describe it as ‘the amoeba,’ ” he said. “It floats around: Do whatever you want. … We had Eddie go to the right side. Lamar went to the left. Oba played up top. Clint was maybe more advanced than we would have liked defensively, but offensively he found some good spaces in there.

“I think they are versatile enough and there is enough hard work there … that they can place-change with each other: one guy goes out wide, and the other goes in the middle. I think those things can get done.”

With Martins healthy again, and Dempsey and Johnson back from U.S. national team duty, the Sounders now have a week of training to figure things out before heading to Carson, Calif., to face the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday.

“Obviously we still got to work on it and see how it’s all going to look when they are all on the field,” Schmid said. “We’ll figure it out. It always has a way of sorting things out. Having quality players is always a good problem to have.”

On Friday, Schmid paired Martins and Neagle as his starting forwards. Each provided one goal in the 2-0 victory over RSL, and they now share the team lead (8).

Dempsey entered as a sub in the 61st minute, and Johnson completed the quartet 14 minutes later.

“It was great to get in with Eddie and (Martins),” Dempsey said. “Both are great players. You have to talk to the manager about what the best balance for this team will be, but the team did really well in the first half and they put in a great performance. I’m just trying to contribute and get into the game to try and help in any way that I can. I got in some good positions and I got some good looks, so hopefully the goals are coming.”

Neagle is in the midst of career-high goals production (previous high was six in 2009). And he has provided most his offensive production at forward, which he might be forced to relinquish.

Yet, he said he welcomes the additions.

“It was good,” he said. “I had already (played a lot), so I thought that I would just sit back and defend, and that was fine for me. I mean what else can you really ask for? You know that they’re going to hold the ball and draw a foul, so that was great.”

Earlier Friday, the Sounders made one final move before MLS rosters were frozen for the stretch run: acquiring midfielder Adam Moffat from Houston in exchange for midfielder Servando Carrasco and a second-round draft pick.

Moffat, 27, is a seven-year MLS veteran who was part of the 2008 MLS Cup-winning Columbus Crew, then coached by Schmid.

“We will see (if) it helps us down the stretch,” Schmid said. “To have someone with Adam’s experience at this stage of the season – a guy who is been to MLS finals, a guy who has a great shot from distance, he competes, he battles – it was something I thought we really couldn’t pass up.”

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 @donruiztnt

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