Steve Zakuani providing creative play early
Posted by: Dave Clark, Special from SounderAtHeart.com
Among active Sounders only Mauro Rosales has more assists than Steve Zakuani. In 2013 he should be adding to that total.
Steve Zakuani is not what most people think of when they think of a creative player. His moves are not like MLS icon Carlos Valderrama, nor the precision crosses of Mauro Rosales. But over the years he generates assists and creates chances as well as anyone on the team through his darting play and tight passes in the box. In 2013 both he and Rosales have three chances created (key passes plus assists) in MLS play according to Opta data used for Fantasy Soccer: Manager.
With two forwards ahead of him pushing for double digit goals he will not be changing his game.
“I will play the way I play. Eddie will play the way he plays and Oba and who ever. We just have to find a way to complement each other. I can’t ask them to take away from their games to help me, or for me to do the same to help them,” Zakuani said after Tuesday’s practice. “I think we just have to play the way we play and be the best we can and find a way to complement each other. I’ve worked with Eddie, the two of us, finding each other and stuff and that’s paid off the last couple of games because I’m understanding him more and more. He’s understanding my game more and more. It will be the same no matter who is up there.”
That knowledge lead to Seattle Sounders FC’s goal against the Portland Timbers.
That goal was built, as so many of Zakuani’s goals and assists are, by a 50+ yard sprint with the ball at his feet forcing a reaction from the Timbers. He cut at a near 45-degree angle toward the center of the net and placed the pass between the keeper-defender layer where only Eddie Johnson could touch it.
Zakuani discounted that he is a creative player, but the way he is playing is generating offense. He had the assist (and another chance created) against Portland and the assist and two other chances when Seattle hosted Tigres. He is using the same dimensions and variety of play that helped him earn 18 assists in all competitions in two full seasons, two partial seasons and the start of 2013.
Only in his first year did the Sounders have two forwards start more than 20 league matches together in front of him. Obafemi Martins and Eddie Johnson as a settled pair will open up space for the left winger to dart in and shoot (he has 19 all competitions goals) or thread balls and generate assists. It is not that his game will change, but the circumstances on the pitch will allow different parts of his game to feature at different times.
Both Martins and Johnson will be away for international duty during Saturday’s match against the San Jose Earthquakes. A bit more pressure may exist on Zakuani to score, but again, his emphasis is on his style not his numbers.
“We can’t change our style of play. Obviously with losing two really good players, but we still have good players staying back. Whatever team goes out on Saturday has to play the way we play, believe in ourselves and try to get the goals any way we can,” the left mid said. “There are different guys that can score on this team and we have to show that this weekend.”
Steve Zakuani is one of those guys that can score, but he can also help create opportunities for others.
Sounder at Heart is a blog about the Seattle Sounders FC, with occasional forays into Democracy in Sports, Roster Management, Tactical Analysis, Soccer Statistics and Life in Puget Sound.
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