In any relationship, communication is key.
So when Sounders FC center back Chad Marshall asked how Seattle’s defense has been able to be so successful early in the season, his answer was communication.
“We’re willing to talk to each other and organize and I think when you do that and play for each other, you get results like we’ve gotten,” said Marshall, a 10-year MLS veteran and two-time MLS Defender of the Year who had only played for the Columbus Crew before coming to Seattle in a trade over the offseason.
Through three matches, Sounders FC’s defense ranks fifth in MLS with a 0.67 goals against average.
The two goals Seattle allowed both came off the boot of England National Team and Toronto FC forward Jermain Defoe. Outside of that seven-minute stretch between his two scores, though, Sounders FC has used a defensive philosophy that includes players from all over the pitch.
“We’ve defended as a team,” Schmid said. “We’ve done a better job in terms of our team defending.”
There is also something to be said for the lineup consistency, as Schmid has been able to use a consistent back four of DeAndre Yedlin and Dylan Remick on the outside with center backs Djimi Traore and Marshall in front of goalkeeper Stefan Frei.
For Traore, it has been as much about that consistency as it has been about the players who haven’t played, as Zach Scott, Jalil Anibaba and Leo Gonzalez have been pushing the starters for playing time each week.
“We worked hard during the preseason and you have to give credit to the new players because they came here and played very well,” Traore said. “We have very good defenders. We need to perform well to keep our place because we have somebody that can take your place. You can’t fall asleep.”
Additionally, Osvaldo Alonso has been in his typically tormenting role in the midfield, keeping Seattle in possession with his ballhandling and passing and taking it back whenever the ball comes through the middle of the park.
On Sunday against Montreal, Traore put on the captain’s armband and promptly led the defensive efforts to keep the Impact off the board. For Traore, that meant helping to stifle midfield playmaker Felipe and, on one late play, clearing the ball off the line to save a sure goal in a scramble in the box.
“We wanted to defend a certain way and we wanted try to get after them with the counter and it worked pretty much the way we expected it to work, especially in the first half,” Schmid said.
This weekend, that defense will be put to the test against the Crew, who scored five goals through two matches, both of them Columbus victories. Kickoff for Saturday’s match at CenturyLink Field is scheduled for 7 pm PT.