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It's The Depth, Stupid

Watching the Sounders play against the L.A. Galaxy on Sunday night, I couldn’t help but admit that Seattle looked hopelessly out of their depth. For the first 35 minutes or so, they floundered about the pitch—or rather, they fumbled about in about a third of the pitch, the part closest to Kasey Keller’s goal.

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With about ten minutes remaining in the half, Seattle finally started to look like a team that was capable of being in the same league as the Galaxy. But that doesn’t erase the fact that the Sounders have consistently been outplayed throughout the season. Considering they hold the US Open Cup and made it into the semi-finals of the playoffs last season, it’s hard not to wonder what has caused this downward trend.

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Well, it’s the depth, stupid. It’s not that the Sounders are out of their depth so much as it is that they have very little depth on their bench. Nate Jaqua missed half the season due to injury, and has yet to start a game this year, leaving the team searching for an acceptable substitute at forward (hint: Pat Noonan is not the answer). Jhon Kennedy Hurtado is out for the rest of the season, requiring Tyronne Marshall to play every game rather than platooning with Jeff Parke.

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Finally, Osvaldo Alonso has been missing for what seems like an eternity, but really has only been seven matches. Ozzie is arguably the best player on the team, and Sigi Schmid hasn’t yet managed to plug the hole at defensive midfield, although Mike Seamon certainly seems a better option than Pete Vagenas.

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According to Sounders FC Communications, only 4 players have started in all fifteen games. This Seattle shuffle, an intricate dance in which many don’t seem to know what their partner is doing, is having a detrimental effect on the Sounders’ ability to win matches.