Seattle Sounders crushed like a bug; We study the gloomy aftermath

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Seattle’s stunning 6-1 loss would be the day’s big industry talker. That son-of-a-gun was standing over on deck, taking its cuts, limbering up and getting ready for its difficult moment in the harsh spotlight.

“This isn’t gonna be pleasant, so let’s just get it over with.”

But the newsy Galaxy demise in Champions League removed Seattle, crushed like a bug in the kitchen, from top of the talking-point totem poll. The Galaxy’s shocking downfall will keep some of the poison pens from training their sights closer to the Pacific Northwest.

But we really do need to take a break from Galaxy repercussion chatter to address what happened down in Torreon, Mexico, last night.

A bunch of wisenheimers like me  got too busy this week digging around the numbers and looking at formations and such, neglecting to fully observe one of the trusty old saws of sports: teams just aren’t at their best so early in the season.  I suppose we knew, but most of us under-estimated the effect. As my buddy Ives Galarcep noted last night on Twitter (@SoccerByIves): “Folks going crazy about this loss should relax a bit. Santos is a stacked team and Seattle hasn’t even started their MLS season yet.” 

I say, “What he said.”

So, I’ll leave all the emotional over-reaction to other people. It hurts today.  I understand.  We’ve all gone grande on a Friday night, woken up with a serious case of the “slows” and fought to get through the blessed day.  But the hangover mercifully abates, things get back to normal and one isolated night of dubious doings need not mean everything in the big picture.  (Well, not unless you wake up in Memphis with four people you don’t know. Not that I’ve done that.)

The point is, there isn’t something bigger afoot here, no bigger points that haven’t been pondered half to death already. Not for Seattle and not for Major League Soccer.  Santos is a quality side (top of the Mexican table currently) further along in its season.  And we’ve all seen those daunting numbers, how MLS squads still aren’t the equal of far-wealthier Mexican clubs in terms of quality throughout the roster.

All that said, Seattle does have some points to ponder:

Center back John Kennedy Hurtado and left back Leo Gonzalez were sliced and diced like holiday turkey.  Gonzalez is an average fullback, the weakest link of the Sounders back line, so that’s not a total stunner. But Hurtado has been an MLS blue chip, one who looked good in preseason. So his scruffy mutt of a night was downright jolting.

Tactically, Sigi Schmid’s team appeared naïve, overly vulnerable to Santos’ savvy set of counters.

Overall, the MLS side looked nervous and perhaps somewhat leaderless, although making such proclamations off TV viewing is a dangerous thing.  Performing at 3,700 feet isn’t easy, after all, and that could certainly produce a debilitating effect that might be mistaken for “nervous.”

Then again, Kasey Keller is sitting in a broadcast booth these days, no longer the brave sergeant marching up and down behind the lines, making everyone feel good that a man of such steady presence is in charge.

The mistakes are correctable. But let’s keep an eye on that leadership question going forward.