Leo Gonzalez

Defensive unit looking to improve after period of adjustment to start the season

On Saturday, Sounders FC had its back four intact for the first time in the 2014 season. While the two first-half goals allowed leave it with room to improve, shutting down the top-scoring team in MLS in the second half to allow for Seattle’s 3-2 comeback win over FC Dallas leaves the club optimistic about the possibilities for Seattle’s defense moving forward.

“It was good. There was a lot of communication. It’s a tough environment and they’re a good team. We knew it was going to be a challenge. We don’t want to give up any goals, but I thought we battled hard,” said center back Chad Marshall, who has been a vital component to the back line all season. “We want to be the best team in the Western Conference and they’re on top of it, so we knew it was a big game for us.”

That group of Marshall and Djimi Traore in the middle flanked by DeAndre Yedlin and Leo Gonzalez offers a strong contingent with varying talents. Marshall is as good as any defender in the league in the air while Traore is great with the ball at his feet. Yedlin is fast and can recover as well as anyone and Gonzalez is among the better 1v1 defenders in his position in MLS. Seattle also boasts defensive depth with Jalil Anibaba, Dylan Remick and Zach Scott all capable of filling in in multiple roles.

“Everybody is going the same direction and working hard,” Traore said. “Of course we’re not happy to concede so many goals, but we are getting better and better every game.”

Thus far, individual errors have caused trouble for Sounders FC, but the team has come back stronger each time. Through six matches, Seattle has allowed 10 goals with two shutouts and the two first-half goals on Saturday against FC Dallas were not overly concerning for Head Coach Sigi Schmid.

“The goals we gave up the one was goalkeeper error, the other was a penalty kick, that was a penalty. I'm not going to dispute that,” Schmid said after the match. “We bent a lot but we really didn't give up anything off the run of play.”

​Although Seattle is happy with four points from the last two road matches and has a stretch of three-straight home matches coming up after playing at Chivas USA on Saturday, goalkeeper Stefan Frei will also concede that the defense needs to be stronger.

While there have been some stellar moments for the defense to hold on to those points, it’s not enough for the team to grow complacent.

“We can’t rely on scoring 3-to-4 goals every game,” Frei said. “We need to sharpen up in the back a little bit, get rid of those individual mistakes and we’ll be alright.”

Chivas USA ranks 11th in MLS and seventh in the Western Conference with seven goals through six matches. Kickoff for Saturday’s match is scheduled for 7:30 pm PT from the StubHub Center.