One of the (several) shocking teams thus far into the young MLS season is the Seattle Sounders. The perennial contenders sit dead last in the West, with just four goals scored and six goals surrendered going into the Saturday match ups. Clint Dempsey’s team has been unable to muster what prowess they have been utilizing over the past couple years and something has to be done.
Unlike the New York Red Bulls and the Columbus Crew, the Seattle Sounders should be very close to panicking. These past two years (and even beyond that), Seattle has been one of the teams to beat. So what changed?
Well, seeing as how the offense is a massive problem (four goals is tied for second worst in MLS), we have to look at the offense, where the change is obvious. Obafemi Martins is gone. Martins accounts for 48 of the Sounders goals over the past two years. That means he accounts for 44% of Seattle’s goal production.
But China took him away.
So Seattle has turned to the youngster Jordan Morris. While there have been promising signs, Morris has yet to open his goal tally. As such, Seattle has struggled to get their season off the snide. It’s a simple equation. Remove the biggest piece of an attack and the attack will falter, particularly when the replacement piece has yet to gel.
To truly grasp where the hang up is, we don’t have to look very far. Morris is not a major piece of this offense, yet the mantle of replacing Martins fell on him. Thus far into the season, Morris has only fired three shots. He has only been used as a striker once. The rest of the time he has been playing wide right, where he doesn’t necessarily belong.
Meanwhile, Nelson Valdez has been tossed to the front of the formation for four games. He too, remains scoreless.
Morris was given his first start at striker last time out against Houston. He did not manage a single shot in 62 minutes of play. On the bright side, he did maintain a 93% pass completion. However, the problem centers on where Morris positions himself. Against Houston, Seattle had nearly 60% of the possession. Yet if you look at the heat map, Jordan Morris spent next to no time in the actual goal box. Most of his time was spent where a No. 10 should be.
Seattle is struggling to fill the hole that Martins left and Morris using his day at striker to serve as a midfielder didn’t help. Dempsey is doing all he can to carry the team on his back, but even he was reliant on Martins to provide another angle to the attack. Right now, Seattle has no other angle. And until Jordan Morris kicks it into gear, that other angle will continue to elude them.