Seattle Sounders FC may have suffered subtraction by addition in its 2-0 loss at Real Salt Lake over the weekend.
Eddie Johnson, Brad Evans and Mario Martinez all went directly from international duty back to Major League Soccer play Saturday, and their time away from their club teammates may have been reflected in the result.
“International games: On one hand they’re more tactical, but on the other hand they’re also slower and so there’s more emphasis on possession, there’s less dynamic running off the ball sometimes,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “And when you get into league play sometimes you have to do more of that, and so the running you do up front is different from the running
you do wide. So maybe (there wasn’t) enough time to integrate that.”
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Johnson started at forward with designated player Obafemi Martins. The move sent Lamar Neagle from forward to midfield.
It marked the first time the Sounders’ three leading scorers – with four goals each – started the same game.
“I think it can work,” Neagle said. “It’s a matter of time. It’s just like at the beginning of the season when we’re trying to get used to each other. It’s crazy that this far into the season we’re still trying to figure out what’s going to happen or how we’re going to get everybody onto the field. I think we’re going to be fine.”
Time together on the practice pitch must wait, because Schmid gave his returning international players a few days off.
When they return, they will begin looking for ways to increase pressure on opposing goalkeepers.
At Real Salt Lake, the Sounders managed two shots: one each by Martins, who went the full 90 minutes, and Martinez, who played 33 minutes off the bench. Johnson had no shots in 73 minutes, and Neagle took none in 57 minutes before leaving with a hip flexor injury, which is not expected to affect his availability when Seattle returns to MLS play July 3 against D.C. United at CenturyLink Field.
Schmid did not seem especially concerned about RSL firing 17 shots, but he said the Sounders’ two was unacceptable.
“We’ve got to be able to sustain pressure; we’ve got to be able to maintain possession in the attacking third of the field,” he said. “… There’s got to be quality of passing. I think the quality was good through the first two-thirds of the field, and then for some reason the last third of the field was more hit and miss; and we need to do a better job there.”
Johnson and defender DeAndre Yedlin are among the leaders in the MLS All-Star fan voting. Johnson is No. 7 at forward and Yedlin is No. 7 at defender. Fan voting concludes July 1 at MLSsoccer.com. … Yedlin played 90 minutes Monday in the United States’ 1-1 draw with France in the FIFA U-20 World Cup. … Rookie forward Eriq Zavaleta returned to training in Tukwila after starting two games while on loan with the San Antonio Scorpions of the second-division North American Soccer League.
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org/soccer