Sounders drop two matches in 72 hours to newbies Vancouver and Portland, leaving hosts of the Cascadia Summit a little uncomfortable less than 10 days before first kick.
Now, for the negatives: the Sounders couldn’t score and couldn’t defend.
The final Sunday at Starfire was Vancouver Whitecaps 3, Seattle Sounders 2. Exhibition, yes, but it must sting a little, losing to two expansion teams in 72 hours, and less than 10 days before the opening of the regular Major Soccer League season.
Sunday’s performance only created more questions about whether the Sounders are MLS Cup-worthy, whether hype matches reality.
The answers won’t start to show until March 15 when the Sounders kick off against LA Galaxy. Still, for the Sounders, it has to be a tad bit worrying.
For Vancouver: it was a good day at the office. Omar Salgado, the 17-year-old U.S. National team star and first pick of the MLS SuperDraft, showed why he is so highly regarded. His teammates served him well, and veteran keeper Joe Cannon made some stellar saves in the second half when the Sounders were pressing.
Salgado took the defense to the cleaners, burying his chance like all great strikers and instilling fear every time he touched the ball. His sense of anticipation and technical skills are still a work in progress, but he is big, fast and only 17. He played Sounders defender Taylor Graham off the pitch. Coach Sigi Schmid was forced to replace the venerable central defender at half time.
The Cascadia Summit weekend was more than preseason matches. It was about building fitness, fine tuning and experimenting with player combinations.
Still, what can be said from Sunday about the Sounders boils down to four players. Friberg was the best player on the pitch — better than Salgado. But Friberg was playing with mostly second teamers for both sides. Even so, his passing, energy and vision stood out. He is making a case for a starting spot.
Then there were the rookies: Tetteh, Seattle’s top draft pick, had a strong first half, and Carrasco, Seattle’s No. 2 draft choice, played well as a defensive midfielder. Tetteh showed technical skill and speed, taking the ball several times on long, serpentine runs through the middle of the pitch that underscored a talent in the making. He tired in the second half.
Carrasco continued to impress. He is like a slower version of Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas. He wins balls, moves well off the ball and saw spaces his teammates sometimes didn’t. His long diagonal passing and short combination play was strong. He and Friberg offered a positive counterpoint to a disappointing evening.
Levesque also poured his heart into the game, getting the first goal. The veteran was all over the field, scoring as a right winger, later defending as a right back. Miguel Montano, still unsigned, scored Seattle’s second goal in the second half.
And that’s about it. The defense was porous. Seattle’s top four forwards have yet to score a goal in the run of play. The Sounders believe it’s a matter of time.
Final preseason tuneup is Wednesday, when the Sounders play the Colorado Rapids and MLS Cup winners in the Community Shield match.