When the MLS schedule comes out, teams can’t wait to get started with their first month of action. But after finishing March at 0-3-1, the Sounders FC couldn’t be happier to turn the calendar over to a new month.
“We’re happy it’s April now,” said midfielder Steve Zakuani without even a hint of a smile.
There is no doubt about the frustration in the Sounders FC locker room after they scored just two goals through their first four league matches, losing at home to the Montreal Impact and in road matches against the San Jose Earthquakes and Real Salt Lake. Their lone point in the MLS season comes from a 1-1 draw at CenturyLink Field against the rival Portland Timbers.
“There’s a lot of pride in this team and that pride is something that needs to take over. When you have adversity is when you show your character. Right now it’s time for this team to show its character,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “We’re all disappointed with where we are right now, but on the same token we all know that we are capable of much more.”
There is plenty of reason for optimism for the Sounders though.
For one, they were able to make history in becoming the first MLS team to oust a Mexican team in the CONCACAF Champions League when they came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat Tigres UANL 3-2 in the quarterfinals of the tournament.
The Sounders are also a veteran team that has been through ups and downs before. Zakuani pointed to the 2010 season, when the Sounders started out 4-8-3 before taking a dramatic turn and finishing the season by going 10-2-3 over their final 15 matches to finish fourth in the Western Conference.
“The last thing we’re doing is panicking. It’s a long season and we’re going to turn it around, for sure,” Zakuani said. “We have too much quality in this group and too much belief in this organization to stay where we are.”
While they may be optimists, they are also realists and they know that they will need to change something about their approach in order to see change in the results.
“It’s still early in the season and we can twist it however we want to, but the reality is, we’re last place,” midfielder Brad Evans said. “The most important thing is that the mentality has to be the same. The guys have to come in and work every day. You still see guys with a good attitude. Once that starts to change, you start to lose the locker room. The most important thing is for us to get together and say this is the situation and we’re the ones that have to turn it around.”
Evans and Eddie Johnson scored Seattle’s two goals in MLS play, while Johnson and defenders DeAndre Yedlin and Djimi Traore provided the three goals in Champions League play. The month saw several additions and subractions, as well as international absences for three key players, who took part in World Cup qualifying matches. With all the ebbs and flows of the roster during the month, the team was never able to gain continuity. As April starts, they are likely to see more consistent training sessions for Johnson, Obafemi Martins and Mario Martinez, while midfielder Shalrie Joseph will look to integrate into the lineup and Patrick Ianni will likely return from a preseason foot fracture.
Looking at the schedule ahead, the Sounders will face a tough start to the month of April with their Champions League semifinal series with Santos Laguna, beginning Tuesday at CenturyLink Field and finishing April 9 in Torreon, Mexico. On the MLS calendar, they will host the New England Revolution on April 13 and head to Colorado to face the Rapids on April 20. Their match against Chivas USA that was originally scheduled for April 7 at CenturyLink Field was moved to September 4.