May record: 4-1-1, 13 points
Overall record: 9-3-1, 29 points
Results: vs. Philadelphia (2-1); vs. FC Dallas (2-1); @ New England (0-5); vs. San Jose (1-0); @ Vancouver (2-2); vs. Real Salt Lake (4-0).
Sounders FC knew that the month of May was going to begin to test the club's depth. With a rigorous schedule and players departing for World Cup camps, Head Coach Sigi Schmid would need to utilize his bench to keep players fresh.
It is a testament to the club's depth and character that Seattle finished the month with a 4-1-1 record in six matches, putting more distance between itself and the rest of the league as Sounders FC now sits five points ahead of the field in the Supporters' Shield standings. Twenty different players made appearances in the six matches with 17 different starters, and they all found ways to contribute.
"I think it's been great considering we've missed some players," Sounders FC Sporting Director Chris Henderson said. "You look at the last few games and the depth of the roster has been tested a little bit and guys have really stepped up with their opportunities to show. I think the whole group is together and that's really important at this time of the year."
Obafemi Martins led all scorers with three goals and two assists, but the Nigerian forward was far from the only player to contribute on the offensive end. Whereas Clint Dempsey was a one-man wrecking crew for Seattle in April, when he had seven goals and two assists in four matches to earn Etihad MLS Player of the Month honors, seven different players scored for Seattle and six had assists.
"It's good to have the balance," Henderson said. "We went through a stretch where Dempsey was getting everything and that's what your DP is for. But to have Oba getting goals on a consistent basis and then adding guys like [Chad] Barrett and [Kenny] Cooper and [Lamar] Neagle – to get those guys balanced and add in [Marco] Pappa and [Gonzalo] Pineda, that makes it harder for teams to lock down on one or two guys."
Barrett and Pineda each scored in both of the final two matches of the month to help Seattle finish May strong after a harrowing 5-0 defeat to the New England Revolution on May 11.
That match served as a bit of a wake-up call for Seattle, who was on a five-match winning streak when it flew to New England.
"You learn a lot more in those games than in a game you win 1-0. Sometimes when you win, you can overlook some deficiencies. I think those are ones that you really focus on your mistakes and you need to work on them," Henderson said, noting that Schmid's words to the team after the match acted as a rallying cry. "We're going to lose games, but we're going to be in games and we aren't going to lose games like that. Every once in a while you're going to have a day when you're off, but you have to compete for 90 minutes."
In the three matches since facing New England, Seattle has posted two shutouts and gone 2-0-1, despite losing Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin to the U.S. National Team and having several others limited by untimely injuries.
Defensively, Seattle allowed just four goals in five matches outside of the New England game, bouncing back for a shutout against the San Jose Earthquakes and adding another to close the month against second-place Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
In between, Sounders FC played to a 2-2 draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC, but did so without Chad Marshall, the rock of Seattle's defense who fell ill the morning of, as well as Djimi Traore after the veteran center back suffered a groin injury in the 54th minute.
"You've got to weather some storms, but they have stayed organized and guys around Chad have rallied," Henderson said. "That's good to see. It's good to get the shutout when we can."
Seattle will have a light MLS schedule in June, facing the Chicago Fire on June 7 and D.C. United on June 28 while the World Cup break gives the team some time off between the two road contests. The Sounders will also kick off their efforts in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on June 18 against PSA Elite, a USASA club from California. The next home match for Seattle won't come until July 13 against the Portland Timbers.