Despite the struggles of the Seattle attack last weekend at Real Salt Lake, head coach Sigi Schmid remains confident in his goalscoring trio of Eddie Johnson, Obafemi Martins and Lamar Neagle.
In different pairings this season, all three have played well up top. Neagle notched four goals and three assists in his last four starts entering Saturday’s match. Martins had four goals and one assist in his previous six matches and Johnson had four goals and one assist in eight matches and was in-form after a stint with the U.S. National Team in World Cup qualifying matches.
Although the trio were unable to score at RSL, they were able to get into dangerous positions and seamlessly place-change throughout the match – something Schmid will look to build upon going forward.
“Overall, I thought the three of them place-changed fairly well. I thought our sharpness in our final third, our final passes weren’t to the quality that they needed to be. Overall, up until then, I thought it was OK,” Schmid said. “We didn’t have any shots, but we were close a couple of times, so you had those type of opportunities.”
The Sounders are narrowing in on determining what their best lineup is, but have not had players in training with the team long enough – even after 19 matches across all competitions. Injuries and international absences have kept Schmid from having a full complement of players available. Even now, DeAndre Yedlin is away with the U.S. U-20 National Team at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey and may not return until after July 13, and Osvaldo Alonso is easing his way back from a quad strain that has kept him out of the last two matches.
The team is confident that once the club’s full vision is realized on the field, the attack will return to one of the league’s most potent threats.
“It’s crazy that this far into the season, we’re still trying to figure out how to get everybody on the field at once,” Neagle said.
Playing on the left was nothing new to Neagle, and he and Johnson actually showed a great ability to interchange seamlessly when Neagle pressed forward, leaving Johnson to play the left wing position that he sometimes plays with the U.S. National Team. Back in 2011, Neagle scored five goals for the Sounders while filling that role. Now, though, he has seen more success and playing time as a forward.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been on the left, so it was a little difficult. The whole game we were struggling to make passes and when it’s like that, it’s just going to be one of those days. You’re hoping you can get one through and one of your guys can create something special,” he said. “I think it can work. It’s just a matter of time.”
The next opportunity for that trio to gel as an attack force will come on July 3 when the Sounders host DC United at CenturyLink Field.