Wednesday night, in addition to being the second leg of the Sounders/Santos Laguna C.O.N.C.A.C.A.F. series, is also Taco Wednesday at the Roanoke Inn. $1 tacos and $3.50 taco salads, they’ll put the Sounders match on, and I usually have half a dozen friends who go there for tacos and alcohol. Since the Sounders match started at 5, I got there early.
First half wasn’t the best, but we kept up with Santos. I saw some troubling signs though. Second half we fell apart. Four unanswered goals by Santos. After Santos went up 4 to 1, I started paying more attention to my friends than to the match.
In the post-game comments, Sigi Schmid talked about not winning the 50/50 balls. Those are the long kicks and headers that are directed in the general direction of a few players, hopefully playing in the opponent’s half, that the team hopes someone from our team can come down with. For some reason that I don’t know, Sigi’s Sounders have played that style of football for years. If your team has a size advantage, it’s not the worst strategy. In M.L.S. we generally won’t have much of a size advantage. Mexican teams tend to play smaller players who utilize speed rather than size. However, we still lost a lot of those 50/50 balls.
Rather than pin the blame on the players who just didn’t do a great job of it, I think Sigi really needs to reconsider the strategy. A) You need a size advantage. B) Those balls are harder to control than other methods of advancing the ball. c) The ball winner needs a person to dump the ball off too who is in the right place. You see the Sounders employ this strategy even on throw-ins. Last season whenever James Riley or Leo Gonzalez would take a ball from out of bounds, inevitably they waited 5 to 10 seconds , few players would move, and then they would throw down the field into a mess of players. I’d much rather we used methods that emphasize possession.
I don’t have a problem with our offense. We had a number of chances where Sanchez improbably saved a goal. It’s getting the ball down the field that was killing us. That and some really lackadaisical defending. I don’t know where our defenders were. Travel killed them? The heat? I don’t know the altitude where Santos plays, but perhaps that? Thoroughly outplayed on defense.
To sum up: 6-1 in the match, 7-3 in the series.
crossposted from King Rat.