Casual observers might take a look at the MLS standings and assume the Seattle Sounders have righted themselves.
Yes, there was that unprecedented 0-3 start, but the club is 2-0-1 since and within four points of their familiar spot among the Western Conference teams bound for the playoffs.
However, wins and losses don’t necessarily tell the complete story. And two voices making that point Monday came from guys who know the team more than casually: Seattle coach Sigi Schmid and goalkeeper Stefan Frei.
“We always maintained that the three losses, we played decent soccer in those games — we’re in all the games,” Frei said. “In fact, you could even argue that in the losses we played a little bit better than in the wins and the tie. But that’s the nature of this league. Sometimes games aren’t going to be pretty, but you have to fight through it and sometimes grind out a result, and that’s what we did.”
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The Sounders opened their season with a 1-0 loss to Kansas City in which Frei misplayed a ball he almost always stops, a 2-1 loss at Real Salt Lake in which No. 2 keeper Tyler Miller misplayed a ball in front of the goal in the final seconds, and 2-1 to Vancouver in which both Whitecaps goals came on controversial penalty kicks.
Since then, Seattle has beaten Eastern Conference-leading Montreal, 1-0; salvaged a late 1-1 draw at Houston; and on Saturday knocked off Philadelphia, 2-1.
In their three losses, the Sounders were outscored 5-2; in the three games since, they have outscored their opponents 4-2. In the three losses, the Sounders were outshot 35-33; in the three wins they have outshot their opponents 45-42. Seattle had the possession edge in two of the three losses and in two of the three non-losses.
“This last game I think we created chances,” Schmid said. “We certainly got behind their defense, and we had some good looks and we had shots. Would you say the overall soccer was as good as it was in some other games? No. The soccer in some other games was better. But sometimes people don’t care about that, they care about the results, and you’ve got to find the right balance between the possession and the soccer and holding onto it, and also being direct and getting behind them at the appropriate moments. .... It’s still a work in progress.”
Four home games into the season, Seattle has finally moved past Orlando City and into its regular place atop the MLS attendance list. After each team played at home last weekend, Seattle’s average attendance at CenturyLink Field stands at 39,716, while Orlando’s average at the Citrus Bowl dropped to 39,088. … A goal by first-team regular Aaron Kovar gave the Sounders 2 USL team a 1-0 win over the Colorado Switchbacks on Sunday and a 1-3-1 record after their season-opening five-game home stand. “They’re playing a lot of young players, so they’re getting better,” Schmid said. “It was only (defender Nouhou Tolo’s) second game with them. Mark (O’Ojong), the other Cameroonian, is playing much better than he played earlier. Victor (Mansaray) is starting to adjust to playing as a center forward, so all those things are helping. (Andy) Craven is still looking for his form (after injury). … (Michael) Nelson is off injury, so it was good to see him out there as well.” S2 will play its first away game April 26 at Real Monarchs SLC. They return home May 1 to face Oklahoma City Energy FC. … The Sounders will have an off day before returning Wednesday to continue training for their Saturday match at Colorado.