By Money Mike
For over a year now, I've been doing a lot of soccer related stuff regarding roster moves, previews/recaps, etc. At the end of each month during the MLS regular season, I plan on doing a rewind on the Sounders. So on the rewind I'm going to be talking about the clubs performance during the entire month, give some positives and negatives, look ahead to the next upcoming month and I'll also throw in some info with the Sounders U23 squad who will kick off their USL Premier Development League campaign on May 11. Most of that however, will relate to the young guys who could end up signing with the Sounders as Homegrown players. The Sounders had three matches this month and came way with two wins and a draw and are now getting ready for a long month of May where they have to play a total of eight matches in all competitions, starting on May 2nd at home against the Los Angeles Galaxy. They have seven league matches as well as a U.S. Open Cup match on May 29th which will be the last match of the month.
Eddie Johnson has made significant progress with his form that he, over the last couple of years, has seen dip since he moved to Europe in 2008. It was great to see him score his first Sounders goal last night against the Chicago Fire. I know it was just a tap into an empty net, but it's better to get that first goal out of the way. I think he and Fredy Montero have linked up very well with one another in these last couple of matches since Johnson was inserted into the starting lineup and if Johnson can stay healthy and maintain his form, I think the Montero-Johnson partnership up front will be the most dangerous in MLS.
Speaking of Montero, I did mention he has had his ups and downs this season. He well overdue to score his first goal of the season. Despite the fact he still hasn't scored, I think he was a little more aggressive this month getting forward a lot more than he did at the start of the season. I've said this over and over again and I'll continue to say it. Montero will end his scoring drought soon.
The Sounders so far have done a great job defensively, shutting their opponents down and are tied for the fewest goals allowed with only three goals conceded. Ozzie Alonso is ranked as the best holding midfielder in MLS and he showed that against DC United, Colorado and Chicago after making some huge defensive plays to deny the opposition any chance of scoring. Jeff Parke is also doing a great job since he was re-inserted into the starting 11 after sitting on the bench the first two games of the season. The back line needed improvement during the offseason and so far, I haven't seen any real problems with this team defensively, not to mention the injuries.
After the beating the Sounders got from Santos Laguna earlier this season in the Champions League. Fans for some reason were criticizing new goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, saying he would never fit in with this team. I wonder if all of them are going to take back those critics after the start he's having. He has three shutouts this season, he has a goals against average underneath one and he has an 84% save percentage. So all this crap about Gspurning not being good enough should've ended right before the start of the MLS campaign because he is a solid goalkeeper and he's proved that so far in this young season.
The real problem I'm having with so far regarding the Sounders are the injuries. The first week of the season was completely brutal. Mauro Rosales who suffered two left knee sprains at the end of last season, suffered a right knee sprain after he took a shot intentionally from Toronto FC rookie Aaron Maund and he was out through April 14th. Adam Johansson suffered an injury during practice and was also ruled out through April 14th. Alonso took a shot from one of the TFC players during the opener, but luckily he hasn't missed any action. Of course we have Eddie Johnson, who missed the last couple weeks of training camp and started both legs of the Champions League Quarterfinal on the bench. He came on in the first leg and didn't seem to have any problems. Same with the second leg, but then he suffered a strained hip flexor. It's great to see that Johansson, Rosales and Johnson are back on the pitch now, but when you are out there without you're key players, things can get pretty rough for you and your team, but the Sounders just like last year, were able to get through it.
Western Conference standings:
1. San Jose Earthquakes, 19 pts (6-1-1), GF 15 GA 6 GD 9
2. Real Salt Lake, 19 pts (6-3-1), GF 16 GA 11 GD 5
3. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 14 pts (4-2-2), GF 7 GA 6 GD 1
4. Seattle Sounders FC, 13 pts (4-1-1), GF 8 GA 3 GD 5
5. Colorado Rapids, 12 pts (4-4-0), GF 12 GA 10 GD 2
6. FC Dallas, 12 pts (3-3-3), GF 10 GA 12 GD -2
7. Los Angeles Galxy, 10 pts (3-3-1), GF 11 GA 11 GD 0
8. Chivas USA, 9 pts (3-5-0), GF 4 GA 9 GD -5
9. Portland Timbers, 7 pts (2-5-1), GF 9 GA 13 GD -4
Look ahead to May:
Like I said this is going to be a long month with seven MLS matches scheduled for the Sounders. Overall in the month of May, the Sounders are 3-5-8. To me, this is a huge month for the Sounders because they've struggled in the May as you can tell by the record, but also because this is the only month where they have to play more than about 4-5 matches like they normally do in a month. So I think Sigi Schmid will be switching his lineup around every match this month. Which means Mauro Rosales could be left out of the squad for a couple of these matches, but of course this is my thought. Looking at their upcoming opponents, this is where the Sounders can really improve on their 3-5-8 record in the month of May.
Upcoming schedule, May 2012:
May 2 vs Los Angeles Galaxy, 7:00pm (KONG TV)
May 5 vs Philadelphia Union, 1:30pm (NBC Sports Network)
May 9 @ FC Dallas, 5:30pm (KONG TV)
May 12 vs Real Salt Lake, 7:00pm (KING 5)
May 19 @ Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 2:00pm (KONG TV)
May 23 vs Columbus Crew, 7:00pm (KONG TV)
May 26 @ Chivas USA, 7:30pm (KING 5)
Aside from MLS, we also have the Sounders U23s who will kick off their USL Premier Development League campaign on May 11th. The Premier Development League is where mostly college players spend their summer gaining some work experience during their collegiate offseason, but the league also features over age players as well. Right now the Sounders U23 have about 6-7 players on their roster that have been in their youth program including Sean Okoli (Wake Forest University), DeAndre Yedlin (University of Akron), Darwin Jones (University of Washington) and Nick Palodichuk (Duke University). These players as well as a few others are eligible to sign with the Sounders as a Homegrown player. Sean Okoli was rumored to become Seattle's first Homegrown signing in 2011, but instead he decided to play college soccer at Wake Forest University. I still think Okoli will sign as a Homegrown player as well as Yedlin, Jones and Palodichuk. With what the Sounders U23 has on their roster, the future is definitely bright for the MLS club who are already enjoying success.
Hope you guys enjoyed reading the April 2012 edition of the Sounders monthly rewind. Hopefully, I gave you guys enough detail about this team and their performance. This is something new for me, doing a rewind every month during the regular season, but I hope I gave enough detail on this one. If not, sorry, there wasn't much to talk about for the month of April.