There are three games left, the Sounders are in the thick of the playoff hunt. Yes it would be nice to have it all wrapped up before the Dallas game, but a big Saturday night under the lights with the playoffs on the line would be fun, the atmosphere will be electric. Nights like that are why I watch the game.
This has been an interesting year. Sigi Schmid and Adrian Hanauer succeeded in putting together an expansion team that has at times been very entertaining to watch, incredibly frustrating at other times with missed chances galore. The one thing it’s never been is boring.
I’ve loved every game at Quest, the season tickets were a great investment and there was no question about what was happening when the renewal e-mail arrived this week. Big thank you to the ECS and the other supporters for making the stadium the envy of the league. I can’t imagine how good it’s going to be in 2011 when Portland and Vancouver join the league. That’s going to be fun.
The question that keeps coming up in conversation is what’s been the problem with scoring?
Montero has more than lived up to his billing preseason, very exciting to watch, and while clearly not quite the finished product ready for the Premier league, I would not be surprised to see him playing in Europe after January transfer window. He would make a great goal poacher feeding off all the loose balls in the box.
Nate Jaqua is the enigma, moments of great play, his first touch is above average, but why can’t a 6’ 3” forward score with his head? He’s played for 7 clubs over the last 6 years and that is a telling stat. I wonder if he will go unprotected once again in the expansion draft in a couple of months. He is not a classic center forward able to take on defenses by himself, he seems to need players making complementary runs to create space for him to play into, and that’s not happening.
I’ve talked about Zakuani before, and it’s no secret I’m a big fan. He’s certainly on the radar of a lot of European clubs, another year in Seattle under Sigi would be great, but I think playing back in the UK is in his future. Exciting to watch, not afraid to run at defenders and as the season has gone on he’s got a better understanding of what’s going on else where on the pitch and that’s made him even better.
Then there is Ljungberg, unquestionably the best player on the pitch and perhaps the league. I love his passion and vision, whenever he gets the ball expectation builds and more often than not he delivers.
He has been asked to do a lot. Roaming in midfield close behind the front two from wing to wing is a lot of ground to cover. Close to every attack goes through him at some point on the way forward. I’m not sure if this is by design, or if he feels the success of the team rides on his shoulders.
This may have been part of Jaqua’s problem, as Ljungberg moves forward with the ball it’s forcing Jaqua out wide, out of his natural position and taking space away from Zac (or Le Toux). In turn gives less space to the defenders and Brad Evans to move forward to provide the second effort to regain possession and recycle it forward when the ball is blindly booted clear of the opponents penalty area.
The team seems to play a more natural, flowing game when Ljungberg takes less upon himself, plays a more central attacking midfield role, the game still flows through him and he still gets to scare defenders when running at them. That’s when Freddie is at his best, and that’s when the team seems to click a little better.
It’s easy to forget that this is an expansion team, with a core of players that stay together for the next couple of years this team will only get better as they build the database of other teams and each other. Its been fun, and the product on the field is only going to get better and better.