There’s not much in soccer that’s more disappointing than losing points in the final minutes of a match to a rival. So when the Sounders FC went from leading 1-0 with just minutes to play to battling to hold on to a 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers on Saturday, there was plenty for the team to be upset about.
However, there were also positives to take from the match and things to learn from the draw that moved the Sounders to 0-1-1 after two less-than-satisfying home results.
The Sounders have plenty of speed on their roster and they only got faster with the addition of Obafemi Martins. In the 11 minutes that Martins and Steve Zakuani were on the field together, Seattle was able to burn past the Timbers defense by playing to Zakuani, Martins and Eddie Johnson.
Zakuani outran the Portland defense when he set up Johnson for Seattle’s first goal of the season in the 13th minute and late in the match Zakuani and Martins connected up the left side and Martins crossed for Johnson, but it just eluded his reach in the box and skipped through. A few training sessions together very well could get the speedy trio on the same page and the Sounders goal totals could sky-rocket.
With Osvaldo Alonso as the defensive midfielder and DeAndre Yedlin at right back they have plenty of speed on defense as well.
Obafemi is ready for Seattle
It would have been easy for Martins to fly from Spain to Nigeria this week to prepare for a World Cup qualifying match against Kenya on March 23. Instead, the Sounders FC’s new Designated Player flew to Seattle on Friday so he could meet his new teammates and be a part of the rivalry match against the Timbers.
In the 70th minute, he came into the match and showed a little bit of the pizzazz expected of the 28-year-old forward. While it didn’t result in goals for the Sounders, the passion and excitement to be in Seattle is undeniable.
“It was hard. (Owner Adrian Hanauer) really wanted me to stay in Madrid so I could go straight to the national team, but I decided to come straight here so I could see the team and try to play as well as possible,” Martins said. “I’m glad that I played today.”
The best is yet to come
A look at the two different locker rooms on Saturday night tells a simple story about the season for the Sounders. While the Timbers were ecstatic and, in the words of captain Will Johnson, thought they were playing pretty well, the Sounders lamented the points they left on the field.
“I think our play was a little bit too slow. Our movement to the ball was too slow. It seemed like they were obviously pressing and were more ambitious in terms of winning 50-50 balls than we were, and that certainly turned the tide of the game,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “As a whole, we could have walked away tonight winning 1-0, even though it wasn’t a good performance.”
Big crowds, big results
The Sounders may not have gotten the result they wanted, but they remain unbeaten when 40,000 fans or more pack the stands at CenturyLink Field.
In regular season and postseason play, Seattle went 4-0-1 with over 40,000 in attendance in 2012 and 2-0-0 in 2011, bringing their total record to 6-0-2.
“I think that energy of playing in front of 40,000-plus, if that doesn’t get you pumped up and looking forward to the game then you shouldn’t be on the field,” Johnson said. “I’ve had a taste of playing in Europe and our fans compete with the best of them. It’s a great statistic and hopefully we can keep it that way.”