Is it just me or has it seemed as though the Seattle Sounders have barely been given a chance to breathe this season? Just two weeks into MLS and the team has already played two matches (we're not going to discuss those scorelines) and are now set to play on Friday, meaning they'll have completed three games while most others have played just one. Although on the list of things to complain about this season, the timing of the Sounders' match against Houston Dynamo ranks fairly low on the list.
Atop everyone's list? The lack of goals, of course. In addition to rarely scoring in preseason play, the Sounders have made it through two regular season games without putting a ball in the back of the net -- at least, not one that counted. Although the squad had started to look threatening against New York Red Bulls, Sigi Schmid made the curious choice of removing Alvaro Fernandez and replacing him with new Sounder Mauro Rosales. Fernandez had looked a little shaky in the first fifteen minutes, but by the time he was pulled, he and Fredy Montero had been combining fantastically up the right flank, and were looking dead-set on scoring. Instead it was Juan Agudelo that scored for New York, just two minutes after El Flaco left the pitch.
To be fair, Fernandez exiting the field had little to do with the goal, although it did make it more unlikely that Seattle would find an equalizer. The true problem, as almost anyone watching the Sounders will have realized, is a lack of finishing ability and a distinct absence of luck. O'Brian White has been depressing to watch, flubbing absolute sitters and looking uncertain whenever he has the ball. Montero, on the other hand, has seen many of his shots saved by talented opposition keepers, and at some point you'd think someone's going to make a mistake. Although Nate Jaqua has been back in training, it's likely he'll be limited to a bench role against the Dynamo, and with Sigi's insistence on two forwards, that almost certainly means White will start.
Fortunately for Seattle, the Dynamo have yet to score a goal this season either, although they've had just 90 minutes to try and find the net. They were also without Brian Ching in the 1-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union, but the offensive threat returns to the lineup against the Sounders. The Dynamo will also be missing defender Jermaine Taylor due to MLS's insistence on not observing international breaks (no Sounders were called away, not that this is really surprising). Houston did manage to control the majority of the possession against the Union, and if they add to that Ching's ability to score goals, well, tonight may not be a fun one at Qwest Field.
Hate to break your little hearts, but there will be no live coverage of this match, as I'm applying my investigative journalism skills to determine whether GA is as cool this year as it was last season. Instead, get yourself a ticket -- there are still some available -- and make sure to stop by Elysian Fields prior to the game, as Sounder at Heart is hosting a fun little pre-match get-together (drinks are on you, though).