On this week’s episode of Winging it with Zakuani, Seattle Sounders right back Kelvin Leerdam stated that he wants to score five goals in the 2019 MLS regular season. After the second match of the season, a 2-0 win over the Colorado Rapids, the Dutch defender has already achieved 40 percent of his objective.
“I love it,” Sounders Head Coach Brian Schmetzer said of his right back’s recent scoring prowess. “He puts himself in good [attacking] spots, and he does the defending.”
Leerdam, who hails from the attack-minded Dutch Eredivisie, said that his innate positioning during attacking sequences stems from his upbringing in a system that often relies on fullbacks to generate chances.
“It’s the development of the situation,” Leerdam said. “It just happened that way and I was there. You just hope the ball falls in your area. That happened last week and tonight. Sometimes it happens and you’re lucky and sometimes you’re not. Maybe the next time my shot gets blocked. Hopefully we keep creating chances and scoring goals. I hope to score more goals.”
While his goals have been a bit opportunistic — his tallies against FC Cincinnati and the Colorado Rapids came from scrambles in the box — they’re also the byproduct of tactical tweaks to the Sounders’ system.
Against Cincinnati, the Rave Green repeatedly unbalanced the opposition by overloading the left-hand side, drawing the opposition to that flank, which left space for Leerdam to make incisive, back-post runs. Facing the Rapids’ 4-4-2 diamond, there were massive windows down the wide channels. According to Schmetzer, Colorado’s formation, and the space it afforded Seattle’s outside backs to push into the attack, was a point of emphasis throughout the week.
“I think it helped today with the way [Colorado] played with two forwards,” said Schmetzer. “So, we had Kim [Kee-hee] and Chad [Marshall], and then Gustav [Svensson] in front of them, so we played 2-v-3. They didn’t have any out-and-out wingers, so that allowed Kelvin and Brad to get forward...We had messaged that to the group, and I think [Leerdam] took full advantage of that.”
Whether it’s luck or intricate tactics, Leerdam is just enjoying his hot streak, as the Sounders have now secured maximum points from their first two home matches.
“As a football player, you always want to score goals,” he said. “That’s what you play soccer for. I enjoy that. I just want to score goals and have fun.”