Sounders Insider

Air turbulence aside, Sounders actually flying high

SOUNDERS RECORDS THROUGH 12 MLS GAMES2012 7-3-2, 23 points2013 5-4-3, 18 points2011 4-3-5, 17 points2009 4-3-5, 17 points2010 4-4-3, 15 points

That's a pretty amazing list, it's it? It's so contrary to what seems to be the league-wide -- and yes, local -- perception of this as a down start for the Sounders.

Fueling that perception: Seattle Sounders FC went through five matches before getting its first win this Major League Soccer season, and the club has suffered eliminations from CONCACAF Champions League and U.S. Open Cup. The Sounders have lost players to injury, national-team duty and a league-high five players to red-card suspensions. And then there was that gruesome 4-0 loss at Los Angeles and the club's first-ever loss to a lower-division side in U.S. Open Cup.

And yet, 12 games into the 34-game MLS regular season, the Sounders somehow have compiled their second-best record ever at this point.

In light of all the turmoil, distractions, doom and gloom of the Sounders’ early season, coach Sigi Schmid is asked if even he can believe it.

“We’ve had to work through a lot of things,” he said. “…We got off to a bad league start, and we were unfortunate a little bit in our first game (1-0 home loss to Montreal) and took a late goal in the other game (1-1 home draw to Portland). If those two things don’t happen, well, then it’s a whole different thing: It may be the best start in our franchise history. So I think when we have all our bodies here, I think we’re a good team.”The perception of a Sounders’ down season was fueled by the general belief back in March that neither the Impact nor Timbers were exceptionally good teams. Flash forward to June, and that one-goal loss and draw don’t seem as smoky a smoking gun: Montreal is at the top of the Eastern Conference, while Portland is the only team in the league with just one loss.

Schmid also believes that while the one-two punch of that loss and draw may have been overvalued, some Sounders’ successes also have been undervalued.

“We’ve accomplished a lot of things that I think people haven’t really given us credit for,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what team Tigres sent up: We knocked off a Mexican team. Nobody’s done that in the Champions League. We got within one goal of getting to the Champions League final. I think that’s pretty good. It shows that we have quality.”

Another indicator is the club’s turnaround in MLS, where the Sounders’ 2-0 result at Chivas on Saturday marked their fourth win over their last five league matches.

But while the results are starting to come, the trend of nothing coming easily has continued.

Designated player Obafemi Martins – whose goal on Saturday marked the earliest any Sounder has reached the four-goal mark – received a red card in the second half from referee Ricardo Salazar.

“There isn’t anything I can do about it,” Martins said. “For me, I didn’t do anything. I was trying to get up and get the ball back. The midfield screamed and the referee looked at (Gabriel Farfan) and gave me the red card.”

The card will add to Schmid’s ongoing need to fit his lineups together with staples and glue when the Sounders return to league play Saturday when Vancouver visits CenturyLink Field. Martins will join a list of unavailable players including Eddie Johnson, Brad Evans and Mario Martinez (national team duty), Shalrie Joseph (disciplinary suspension) and probably Osvaldo Alonso, who suffered a thigh injury in the first half at Chivas.

”It’s going to be a difficult game because we’re missing a ton of players,” Schmid said. “… We’re going to have to roll up our sleeves and battle. But we’re at home, we’re in front of our fans, and we know we have the ability to do that.”