April record: 1-0-1 (1-1-2 overall)
MLS results: vs. New England Revolution (0-0), @ Colorado Rapids (1-0).
CCL Results: vs. Santos Laguna (0-1), @ Santos Laguna (1-1).
Overall record: 1-3-2 (2-5-3 overall)
It may be hard to believe, but the month of April has come and gone and the Sounders played just four matches across all competitions.
In those four matches, though, the Sounders and head coach Sigi Schmid were able to find out a lot about the team. Just five players started all four matches, as 21 different players made appearances and 18 different made starts as the Sounders battled a tough foe in Santos Laguna in the CONCACAF Champions League semifinal while also seeking their first victory of the season in the MLS regular season.
Through injuries and the heartbreak of falling in the CCL semifinals, though, they came out pretty good on the other side, posting a 1-1-2 overall record while posting two shutouts in MLS play.
Two of those matches came in the Champions League semifinals against Santos Laguna, a team that Wednesday night will play for the Champions League title as they face Monterrey in the second leg of the final after a scoreless draw at home in the first leg. And while the Sounders couldn’t mount a comeback after falling behind 2-0 in the series, they were able to pull one goal back in playing to a 1-1 draw at Estadio Corona in the second leg of the 2-1 series defeat.
In those two matches the Sounders saw the debut of Shalrie Joseph, who was among those that started all four matches. His pairing with Osvaldo Alonso had the potential stifle opposing midfields while triggering the attack for the Sounders and by the end of the month, that end had been reached.
In addition, those games helped solidify the defensive core of Djimi Traore, DeAndre Yedlin and Leo Gonzalez. Zach Scott also started in the back in those matches, holding the high-powered Santos offense to just two goals in the series.
However, injuries to midfielder Brad Evans and forwards Eddie Johnson and Obafemi Martins would cause some shuffling in Seattle’s attack and eventually Schmid landed on a lineup that relied on Lamar Neagle to create space from the forwards role. He rewarded Schmid for his faith by scoring against Santos Laguna and setting up a goal for Martins against the Colorado Rapids in the club’s first win of the season on April 20 against the Colorado Rapids.
Alex Caskey was also thrust into a more prominent role, starting three of four matches while making a substitute appearance in the fourth. His distribution and creative play allowed Schmid to use Mauro Rosales off the bench, giving rise to the veteran’s performances as the month progressed.
Now the Sounders turn to a busy May schedule that will see them play five MLS matches – three of which are on the road and three of which come against playoff teams from 2012. That starts with a road trip that will see them face a rejuvenated Philadelphia Union side on Saturday and Sporting Kansas City, the team that finished atop the Eastern Conference standings in 2012, next Wednesday. After that, they host the defending Supporters’ Shield winners in the San Jose Earthquakes, then the team leading the MLS standings right now in FC Dallas. Finally, they head to The Home Depot Center for their first match of the year against the defending MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy. They will also finish the month with their first match in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, scheduled for May 28 or May 29.
So while April may have been relatively calm, it’s setting up for an exciting month of May as the Sounders continue their journey through the 2013 season.