The Seattle Sounders looked like they had a good thing going. They had won three out of four, putting behind them a rough start to the season where they won just one out of five. Having lost Obafemi Martins, Lamar Neagle and Marco Pappa, it had the feel of a rebuilding season. Jordan Morris hadn’t come around yet and Clint Dempsey was struggling to retain relevance.
But then they won those three of four I mentioned. And then subsequently lost two in a row.
It’s easy to pinpoint what happened and what changed. Those first five matches, Jordan Morris did not score, he was playing out wide and not being used in his preferred striker role. These last two, Jordan Morris did not score. But for the good stretch the Sounders had, the three out of four, Morris scored his first four goals.
Seems pretty self-explanatory. Morris scores, the Sounders win. Morris doesn’t score, the Sounders don’t win.
In case you need to be told this, that presents a problem. Stateside of Soccer pointed out at the start of the year that Sounders were looking like Jordan Morris or bust. The goals were not coming, the chances were not coming, and Morris was not scoring. And they were losing. A lot. The perennial contenders were chilling near the bottom.
Guess that’s what happens when you expect a 21 year old to replace Obafemi Martins’ goal output.
But then Morris turned it on and the hope was that the answer had finally arrived. Until FC Dallas came around. And Sigi Schmid did the rather questionable thing, moving Jordan Morris out of the striker role and putting him on the right wing. Why, you ask? Who knows. But it didn’t work. Morris only fired one shot and touched the ball the second fewest of any Seattle player.
So by confining him to the right side, Schmid removed his most crucial player from the mix. And lost.
All this after the San Jose match, where Morris was the centerpiece of the 4-3-3, scored a goal, rocked the post, and the Sounders won 2-0.
Schmid tried to right the ship against Colorado, reverting back to the 4-3-3. Despite controlling the run of play and dominating the Rapids in nearly every statistical category, the defensively stout Rapids did what they do best and closed up shop, squeezing out a goal, and taking home the win. In the end, despite the return to the 4-3-3 that had downed San Jose, it still felt like Morris was too isolated.
Seattle has to mimic what they did against San Jose, when Morris took four shots, scored a goal, and hit the post on another. Why wouldn’t they? The strategy worked and they have to stick with it.