State of the Sounders: FC Dallas crashes Seattle back to reality

May 18, 2016, 10:42 AM | Updated: 10:44 am

Goalie Stefan Frei did his part during a 0-0 tie against the Houston Dynamo. (AP)...

Goalie Stefan Frei did his part during a 0-0 tie against the Houston Dynamo. (AP)


Just when it seemed like all was right in the world of the Seattle Sounders after two straight home wins, a trip to the Lone Star State shook them back into the reality of the MLS season.

The Sounders and their fans were on a roll with talk of Jordan Morris’ record scoring streak, the apparent return of Clint Dempsey’s own scoring form, and their seemingly impenetrable defense. But when you visit a team near the top of the table that has only lost at home three times in over two years, reality is all too real. FC Dallas is a good team, and they wedged open the cracks that the Sounders’ last couple opponents hadn’t been able to do. When faced with a quick, incisive passing team that counters at lightning speed, Seattle looked lost and a little confused at times.

Sounders’ momentum halted in 2-0 loss to FC Dallas

Sure, the Sounders held an astonishing 58 percent of possession in Dallas, but what good is possession if you can’t do anything with it? The home team’s pressing game was at a different level, and the Sounders didn’t seem to know how to counter it. Players that have looked brilliant in other matches this season looked inept and incapable.

I hate to pick on one player, since few players actually looked decent, but Cristian Roldan may have been the worst victim of Dallas’ incessant pressing. The second-year midfielder was constantly mobbed every time he had the ball, which led to him panicking and giving away possession in midfield. Osvaldo Alonso suffered similarly, and looked far less confident and composed on the ball than he probably has all season.

So as good as the Sounders have looked at times, especially in the win over San Jose, they still aren’t well-rounded enough to face absolutely anything that an opponent throws at them. Dallas’ forward pressing strategy meant that the Sounders were constantly passing backwards, and not always accurately; Stefan Frei had to sprint off his line multiple times to clear poor back passes that Dallas’ attackers were closing on.

What should the Sounders do to prevent this from happening, say, this weekend as the also-dominant Colorado Rapids come to town?

Learn how to keep calm in possession: When FC Dallas pressed the Sounders into oblivion, it wasn’t always to win it back, but rather to force Seattle into making inaccurate passes or clearances instead of building proper attacks.

Communication and off the ball movement: When an opponent is bearing down on a teammate, make a run to give him an option and let him know where you are.

Team pressing: The best defense against such tactics is to copy them. A little like a full-court press in basketball, pressing as a team from forwards to defenders is one of the best ways to prevent your opponent from even mounting his own attack. Morris is excellent at this for the Sounders, but the rest of the team (especially the forwards) need to do better about getting the ball back immediately after losing it.

Spenser Davis also covers the Sounders for Sounder at Heart.

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State of the Sounders: FC Dallas crashes Seattle back to reality