Seattle Sounders: Now is not the time to panic

SEATTLE, WA - MARCH 4: at Harry Shipp
SEATTLE, WA - MARCH 4: at Harry Shipp /

In a surprising fashion, the Seattle Sounders fell to expansion side Los Angeles FC on Sunday. But now is not the time to panic for the perennial postseason challengers.

There are few expansion teams that have been as consistently successful as the Seattle Sounders. The first season was only in 2009. They are less than a decade old. And yet, in that time, there are few clubs that have been more successful. Four Lamar Hunt US Open Cups, an MLS Cup, which came in an outstanding 2016 campaign, are proof of that.

Moreover, not only have they been extremely successful in regards to filling the trophy cabinet, but they have also been extremely consistent, qualifying for the playoffs in each one of the nine seasons that they have featured, and playing in the CONCACAF Champions League for the fifth time this season.

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But that inordinate success did not carry over to Sunday. Los Angeles FC, the latest expansion team to be welcomed into MLS, travelled to the ever-daunting CenturyLink Field. Confidence of an unlikely upset was low. It shouldn’t have been. While it was Seattle that dominated the stats — 22 shots to five; 59.8% to 40.2% possession; seven shots on target to one shot on target; 12 corners to one corner –, it was LAFC that came away with the victory, a first-half Diego Rossi curler succumbing the Sounders to an opening-weekend loss.

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It would be easy for panic to ensue. Most fans are grounded enough to realise that this is the first game in a long season in which many twists and turns are still to come. But this, in a weekend full of shocks, might have been the biggest of them all. Seattle should have won and won comfortably. And they didn’t.

Nevertheless, there plenty of signs for them to take heart. Nicolas Lodeiro was at his string-pulling best, creating a ridiculous eight chances throughout the 90 minutes — only two other players created more than one with none bettering three; new-signing Magnus Wolff Ekreim looked sharp when he was introduced at the break;  a heavy dose of rotation as a result of their midweek CONCACAF fixtures both before and after the loss is also a reason for their weaker performance, especially defensively.

The season is long and there is plenty of time to recover. For the moment, it is far more important to focus on the process, not the production. It is not the results that will be replicated, it is the process, and only be replicating smart processes well, will results come. That is what Brian Schmetzer and his players must focus.

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This loss was disappointing and they will have to deal with the juggling of domestic and international duties throughout the year. But now is not the time for panic. It is far too early for that.