One of the odd things about the Sounders' current two-game losing streak is that it comes in the only two games Fredy Montero and Freddie Ljungberg have started together. (Here's a column I wrote for the Monday paper taking a larger look at this issue and the state of the Sounders.)
The Sounders beat New York when Ljungberg was out with injury. They beat RSL with Ljungberg coming off the bench in the second half. They won at Toronto with Montero home sick. But since the Freds have shared the starting lineup, which sent Steve Zakuani to the bench, the Sounders are winless and scoreless.
And while there can be no question that Ljungberg and Montero belong in the starting 11, accommodating them – especially at the cost of Zakuani – seems to have unbalanced a chemistry that had been working so magically.
And interestingly, coach Sigi Schmid admitted as much after the 2-0 loss to Chivas on Saturday.
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"The cohesion ever since we put Montero and Ljungberg on the field together has suffered," Schmid said. "Early in the season, we played with two holding midfielders and our wide guys attacked. Now, we're more of a diamond I the middle of the midfield, and we haven't sorted out all our roles and responsibilities."
It also doesn't help that the Freds were each involved in what were probably the two most costly plays in the loss to Chivas.
The first came when Montero faced a one-on-one with Chivas keeper Zach Thornton, who was caught in no-man's land midway between the ball and the goal. Montero lofted the shot just right, but he sent it wide of the goal.
That was followed by Chivas' first goal, which actually was an own-goal by James Riley. However, Riley's desperation flick came only after a defensive collapse that started with Ljungberg releasing his man on a give-and-go through the penalty area.
I don't know Ljungberg's responsibilities on that play, but he mentioned the importance of the play later.
"Maybe on the first goal, we could have done a little better on the through ball that came in, and stuff like that," he said. "But that's how it is."
The Sounders are off Monday, with no availability to the media, so we'll have to wait a while for any follow-up to any of this. But it will be interesting to learn a bit more about how the defense was supposed to handle that give-and-go.
And it will be especially interesting to see if Schmid tweaks his starting lineup again, this time to accommodate not only Fredy & Freddie but also Zakuani, who I thought was one of the two most effective Sounders on the field Saturday (along with Osvaldo Alonso).
The Sounders retun to practice on Tuesday. Their next game is against 1-2-2 San Jose at 7:30 Saturday at Qwest Field.