Sounders will try to kick start their season on Friday against the Houston Dynamo, which tripped in its season opener to the Philadelphia Union.
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said Wednesday there is no reason to panic over two straight losses to begin the 2011 Major League Soccer season.
And though the Sounders can blame some unlucky breaks in both matches, Schmid says there’s really no reason to be happy about it, either.
“Certainly were not happy about it,” Schmid said. “We want to do better. We need to do better. We need to work a little harder. We need to create our own luck.”
Thus, the Sounders got down to serious business on Wednesday. They closed most of the practice and will do the same on Thursday, as they head into their home match against Houston Dynamo on Friday. For now let’s prefer to believe that the Sounders need some quiet time to reboot, refocus and remind themselves that scoring goals and winning does matter.
In all fairness, it’s probably just a matter of time before the players find their scoring touch. They created enough chances against LA and New York to win both matches but fell short where it counted against two MLS Cup contenders.
“We just need to see the ball go in the back of the net,” Schmid said. “We think if we can get one that will open it up for us a little bit, take the pressure off the pressure-cooker a little bit.
“Sometimes that good fortune goes your way and you end up with the results and sometimes it doesnt,” he said. “Its important that we dont panic.”
That certainly has got to be the word du jour for the Sounders. It’s safe to assume Schmid — behind closed doors — will be blending Buddha-like calmness with a fire-alarm sense of urgency when the team clashes with the physically imposing Dynamo. The squad includes two players with Seattle connections — forwards Brian Ching and Cam Weaver, who played for Seattle University. Both are expected to be in the traveling squad, and Ching is battling to be fit to start against his former team.
The Dynamo dropped its home opener to Philadelphia Union 1-0 and will be looking to rebound against Seattle at home. That’s not an easy task. But it is a veteran team that has won the MLS Cup twice in recent history. It can handle some adversity.
Left-footed midfielder Brad Davis is the team talisman. He is one of the original Dynamo players and one of their key players. He pulls the strings with his silky left foot and is considered one of the league’s best free-kick takers.
Davis is a creator and playmaker — he plays like a No. 10 even though he starts on the left side of the midfield. He led the Dynamo and finished third in MLS with 12 assists in 2010 as well as added five goals and was named team MVP for the second straight year. That followed a nearly identical 2009 All-Star season, where he recorded 12 assists. In the last five years, Davis has produced three double-digit assist seasons.
He’ll find Ching to hold up the ball, drop it over the top to rookie forward Will Bruin, the Dynamo’s first draft choice, or dish it out to one of his many able veterans — Geoff Cameron, Bobby Boswell, Eddie Robinson, Lovel Palmer and Hunter Freeman.
“They have made a lot of changes but theres obviously a lot of guys that have been around the league,” Schmid said. “Brad Davis is still a key player for them and he has been around for a while.”
Davis, known for his pinpoint free kicks, is able to take advantage of the team’s larger size. “They really try to make use of their set pieces and their corners and with their size and with his (Davis) accuracy of service, they are very dangerous,” Schmid said. “And they are going to be aggressive defensively.
Defender James Riley said Houston is a physical and direct team. They are going to challenge in the midfield. They will bang up front and bang in the back, and they are strong on set pieces, he added.
“Well look to exploit them with our speed,” Riley said. “We have some speed wingers and some very clever guys up front. We want to limit their set-play opportunities. They will always compete, and always battle. So we have to be ready to match that enthusiasm and look to be clever when we have chances to go forward.”
One of those speedsters is forward O’Brian White. He is eager to score and knows the team has been unlucky, so far. Panicked, he is not, he says. “Weve been creating chances. We just need to put one away and more will come,” White said. “If we werent creating, then wed be more worried.”