In 360 minutes of MLS action in 2012, the Sounders FC has used seven different defenders. They played their first MLS match just three days after allowing six goals to end their run in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal against Santos Laguna, one of the top teams in Mexico.
Yet the Sounders remained confident despite the hefty loss and the lineup shuffling to allow just two goals in the club’s first four matches – one off a penalty and the other off a Goal of the Week strike from Ryan Johnson.
“Nobody was happy with any aspect of that game. As a group we got stretched and they punished us. Sometimes games go like that,” said defender Patrick Ianni. “I don’t think the group ever lost confidence or faith.”
The Sounders not only bounced back from the six-goal barrage from Santos Laguna, but also overcame injuries that have knocked Adam Johansson and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado out of matches this season.
Zach Scott has since started in the last three matches at right back, getting credit from the coaches for helping shut down the explosive Houston Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis. Meanwhile the triumvirate of Ianni, Jeff Parke and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado has been sturdy in the middle of the back line while Marc Burch and Leo Gonzalez have split time at left back.
“Covering for each other has been huge. We’ve been shifting and not letting guys get in behind us and that’s been a huge part of our success the first few games,” said Ianni, who is the only defender that has played all four matches. “We’re working hard for each other.”
Through four games, the Sounders and goalkeeper Michael Gspurning rank third in the league at just 0.5 goals allowed per game.
Yet head coach Sigi Schmid credits the whole team with their stingy start. Osvaldo Alonso has been a pest to opposing midfielders. Forwards David Estrada and Fredy Montero have not been afraid to track back when needed.
“When you’re defending, everybody is defending. It’s not just your goalkeeper. It’s not just your defense. It’s your midfielders and forwards as well,” Schmid said. “I think we’ve done a good job of sticking to whatever our gameplan is in that particular game.”
Next on the schedule is the Colorado Rapids, who come in to CenturyLink Field on Saturday fifth in the league with seven goals through five matches. However, they have lost two of their last three matches, falling 4-1 to the New York Red Bulls and 2-0 to the Chicago Fire.
Kickoff for Saturday’s match is 1 pm with live TV coverage on KONG 6/16 and the radio broadcast on 97.3 KIRO FM.