Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan and coach Brian Schmetzer agree opponents seem to be willing to allow their team to keep possession of the ball while almost daring them to do something more offensively with it
The book is officially out on how to thwart the Sounders at their own possession-based game.
It involves letting them pass the ball around all they want, while keeping nine or 10 players back to prevent anybody from actually scoring. And then, once the Sounders make a mistake, be prepared to pounce on the counterattack and force the Rave Green to play from behind.
That’s a strategy Toronto FC performed to perfection on Saturday in beating the Sounders 1-0 with a depleted squad at CenturyLink Field. One week prior, the New England Revolution used the same approach to carry a 3-0 lead into the 75th minute.
“I don’t think it’s a matter of a style of beating us,” Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan said Monday as the Sounders got back to work preparing for next weekend’s contest in Chicago. “But I do think that it’s certainly an effective way of maybe containing us at some point.”
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Toronto put an iron clamp around the Sounders after scoring on a first half penalty kick. The Sounders still maintained more than 63 percent possession, but had difficulty finding any real space to mount a dangerous surge. After the game, striker Will Bruin said the Sounders needed a bit more “possession with purpose” to turn all of their ball control into actual goals.
Roldan said the more defensive approach taken by Toronto has been an issue moreso when the Sounders play home games. That visiting teams aren’t that aggressive on the road to begin with and are thus more inclined to drop players back and let the Sounders control the ball minus any real threat.
“I think when we change the point of attack, we really need to change it in quicker fashion,” Roldan said. “We’ve given teams time to shift a little bit more because we do five or 10-yard passes. And yeah, it’s nice on the stats sheet, but it’s not really an effective way to go about the game.”
Another way, he added, is to attempt more vertical passing upfield to Clint Dempsey and Nicolas Lodeiro instead of all the side-to-side stuff that gives opponents time to regroup.
The Sounders, now 2-3-4, have trailed in seven of nine games played thus far. They didn’t win any of those seven and were fortunate to salvage draws against Montreal and New England after rallying late from deficits of 2-0 and 3-0.
Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer agrees opponents lately have been consistent in allowing his players to maintain possession and almost daring them to do something more.
“For sure, I would say so,” Schmetzer said. “And also, that we’re predominantly left sided. So, those are the two areas that we’re going to try and fix.”
The Sounders are visibly more…