Sounders look to regain defensive focus against high-scoring Dallas

A week ago, Sounders FC was displeased with its offensive execution in a 2-1 loss against the Columbus Crew as there were several goals to be had in the first half that could have put the game out of reach early. Now, the coaching staff is evaluating defensive errors from a 4-4 draw with the Portland Timbers as Seattle prepares to meet red-hot FC Dallas this week.

However, Seattle is optimistic that those defensive errors are in the past and won’t pop up again.

“Execution is always important. When you get chances, you have to finish them. For a while I was ruing that we had some good chances that we didn’t finish. At the end of the day, defensive execution is important as well,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “It’s been individual mistakes, but certainly we have to look at it. We have to do a better job in terms of our transition right away when we lose the ball. We’ve got to get tighter to people and do a better job sliding across the field, but those are all things that we’re going to work on.”

After starting the same four defenders through the first four matches of the season, Schmid moved Leo Gonzalez back into his starting role and started Jalil Anibaba in place of the suspended Djimi Traore on Saturday.

Portland was able to pounce on Seattle’s miscues, but it also took three MLS Goal of the Week candidates to give the Timbers a 4-2 lead, which Seattle bounced back from with two late goals from Clint Dempsey to earn the draw. The long-range blasts of Diego Chara and Maximiliano Urruti and the quick-strike goal from Diego Valeri leave less cause for concern for Schmid, but Seattle is certainly addressing the mistakes that led to the goals.

“You’re never happy when give up four goals, but I think some of the goals that we gave up were individual mistakes,” Schmid said. “We have to eliminate those turnovers in bad parts of the field, so we don’t give away opportunities like that. When you score four on the road, you should come away with a win, but I’m sure they feel when you score four at home, you should have a win as well.”

The players buy in, too, and are set to make the appropriate adjustments this week.

“I’m frustrated right now for sure,” defender Chad Marshall said. “We’re definitely going to get back this week and look at video and look at how we can improve because we can’t give up four goals a game.”

The challenges to test those defensive adjustments don’t come much stiffer than FC Dallas, who has 13 goals in five matches to lead the league in scoring.

With the speed of Fabian Castillo, the playmaking of newcomer Mauro Diaz, the persistent threat of Blas Perez and the emergence of Je-Vaughn Watson, Dallas has a lot to contend with. However, another week of training has Schmid believing Seattle will have the antidote to the hot start of FC Dallas.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re prepared, but we’ll be better defensively than we were against Portland,” Schmid said.

Kickoff for Saturday’s match at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, is scheduled for 5:30 pm PT.