When a team wins the statistical battle the way Sounders FC did on Saturday, a better result can be expected than the 2-1 defeat suffered at the hands of Toronto FC in Seattle’s second match of the season.
Seattle held over 68-percent of the possession, won over 62-percent of the duels and completed 83.1-percent of its 568 total passes. However, two opportunistic goals from international star Jermain Defoe gave Seattle a mountain to climb against a newly built team with stars all over the field.
“We gave them two gifts,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “Their danger was off counters or off steals, but we hurt ourselves because we created those opportunities by playing too many square passes when we needed to go forward with it. Too many passes went back and it put us in a hole. We had enough chances in the second half to equalize the game.”
The first goal for Toronto came on a quick restart and Jonathan Osorio sprung Defoe in a pocket between Djimi Traore and DeAndre Yedlin. Defoe finished cleanly past the oncoming Stefan Frei in the 17th minute for the 1-0 lead. In the 24th minute, he added another when a misplayed ball by Marco Pappa left Defoe alone behind the Seattle defense. The England international took one touch to get around Traore and ripped a right-footed shot past Frei for the goal.
Seattle bounced back, though, and continued to hold possession while Toronto looked to absorb the pressure and play counter-attacking soccer.
After the halftime break, Seattle pressed the issue and outshot Toronto 7-1 in the second half, finally breaking through for a goal in the 68th minute.
Lamar Neagle led Obafemi Martins up the right side and Martins played a cross to Clint Dempsey on the edge of the 18. Dempsey settled the ball with his left foot, then rifled a right-footed shot inside the near post for his first goal of the season to pull the score back to 2-1, but Seattle couldn’t find an equalizer.
“I thought we came out in the second half and carried it to them. I thought we played to win. I thought our attitude was good. I thought some of our guys lifted their game—I thought Oba lifted his game, I thought Neagle was better in the second half than the first, and Clint began to see the ball more,” Schmid said. “From that standpoint I thought it was good. How you deal with adversity is what defines your character. Today was a little bit of adversity and we put ourselves into that situation, and now we have to come back from that.”
Opportunities like the one that led to the goal and three others from Martins proved easier to come by in the second half as Seattle showed the character that the team had talked so much about during the preseason and after a 1-0 win in stoppage time in the season opener.
It is that same character that Seattle will look to in order to make sure that the home defeat is an outlier and doesn’t become habit.
“We just have to keep going, just try to be a little bit better in front of the goal, but at the same time we are creating chances and we’re happy with that,” Dempsey said. “We just have to keep going because if we look at the first two games we've scored in both and that’s always good. We just have to try to do a better job with limiting the goals that we concede.”
Some of that will come as the team grows closer together as a unit after so many offseason changes. More time together on the field – whether it’s in training or in matches – will help that cohesiveness.
While Seattle doesn’t want to let losses like the one on Saturday pile up, it is early in the season and there are still plenty of games to be played.
“It’s a long season and I think we know that. Obviously we don’t want to lose at home, ever. But we know it’s a long season and we know we got a game next weekend so can’t really dwell on it too much,” Neagle said. “We can take away what we did wrong and those mistakes, but yeah we got another game against Montreal.”
Sounders FC (1-1-0) will meet the Montreal Impact next week at Olympic Stadium for the first road match of the season.