Seattle Sounders FC entered Centurylink Field last night, a different club than the one that left in an aggregate loss to Salt Lake last year. New personnel, a new turf, and a new style of play punctuated how long the four months have been since we last saw the boys in action.
Maybe it's just because I've been playing so much Fifa 12 over the offseason, but this team seemed almost fundamentally different from the one that finished second in the league table in 2011. Movement was fluid, possession was as good as I've ever seen in person, and balls were flying around the field in some spectacular displays. Not to be overlooked, the defense was largely shutdown all game despite Right Fullback Adam Johannson frequently making his way into the attack. The three man line of Parke-Hurtado-Gonzalez limited the opposition Jaguares to a single shot on goal.
And then of course, there was Fredy Montero's wonderstrike, a wonderfully weighted shot that, were it two weeks later in MLS play, would have been a likely winner of the Goal of the Year award. See it after the break.
Montero saw a goalkeeper just a few steps off his line and struck it with such finesse that it dropped in behind that aforementioned keeper as if he was standing still. Goals like this will have huge ramifications in the future, as keepers will keep his chipping ability in mind when Montero has the ball, giving him more space to go for the corners.
- I did not realize just how big Christian Sivebaek was until I watched him streak up the left side in front of me (front row, section 212). The guy is a physical specimen, and would have little issue measuring up in the NFL size-wise. I wanted to see more of him, though he played well in the 20-odd minutes he was in.
- Mauro Rosales had a hot and cold night. His crosses were as superb as always, leading to the first goal as well as a number of other chances. But his ball handling and passing were a little off. He was hardly the only one, as Brad Evans seemed lost at times trying to make his way around with the ball. He skied a shot from within 10 yards and a number of his passes went seemingly nowhere. Alonso had a couple of missed touches as well though in general played is typically excellent game. I suspect these issues will be settled after the club gets more familiar with their new turf.
- Fernandez vanished. Or at least, he didn't have much of an impact. Even after watching the game both in person and on the broadcast later, I can't specifically remember more than a few touches he had all game, and none that were worth remembering. Almost every possession was worked forward through the middle of the field or along the right, with Johannson and Rosales. I've found him to be a very good player over the last two years of Sounders employment, but with Zakuani expected to be back in the next few weeks or months, I wonder if the Sounders wouldn't be better served trying to transfer him, and use that money towards an upgrade at left fullback or center mid. There's no reason to hold onto a designated player that will only see time off the bench.
- I don't want to forget perhaps my favorite new player on the team. Michael Gspurning didn't exactly "Gspurn down the house" last night, but standing as close to the field as I was, it was great to hear some of his communication with the back line (Generally Parke). I got the impression that our defense will be top notch this year.