What did our beloved Claret and Cobalt do the evening of March, 10th? They did what they trained for. They did what they most wanted. They did what they are capable of. They “came to score” (The Aggrolites).
Somehow, I haven't written anything here about Friday's match yet. We all knew exactly how it went, and to be honest, that might have been the best bet for how it was going to go forward. Nil-nil? I'm not surprised.
I'm also not surprised that we put the weight of the clean sheet largely on Nick Rimando, who bailed us out on more than a few occasions. For most of the match, we were excellent defensively, but our ranks got breached a few too many times for comfort. Then again, it does make for a fantastic highlight reel.
The problem, really, was on set pieces — not to say it was a massive problem. By no means was it that. But we did allow Seattle too much joy on corners and the like, and we'll have to be considerably better when we're at home. Then again, Nick Rimando. That is all.
I'd just write about Nick Rimando for the remaining time, but I don't think that would be a spectacular use of my time or yours — I know only a bit about goalkeeping theory. I'd like to learn more, mind — although I would recommend reading something like How to Score: Science and the Beautiful Game for a fine exposition on penalty shootouts.
At any rate, there were small problems through the rest of the pitch. The midfield seemed a bit preoccupied with keeping a clean sheet, which is exactly what we needed to do on the road, but it did scupper a few chances when we didn't have bodies bursting into the box.
That said — Ned Grabavoy was absolutely fantastic on both sides of the ball. He created chance after chance, and so often, he was in the perfect defensive position. Capping it with a goal would have been well-deserved, but the performance lives strong. Does this man love the playoffs, or what?
Chris Wingert, too, was a real force. Seattle has a strong right flank with Mauro Rosales and Christian Tiffert both largely there. Now, Tiffert did a bit more floating, but when you consider that Rosales (corners aside) went 15/34 in passing, there's no doubting that Wingert played a huge role in that.
Indeed, the only Seattle player to really have a good game in the midfield? Osvaldo Alonso. Everyone else was largely cut out — a testament to the performance of our midfield and full backs. Let's also consider the 6/38 crossing — it wasn't a bad percentage, honestly, but it shows how peppered our center backs were with these things. As we needed to, we relied on Watson-Siriboe, Borchers and Rimando to really turn the Sounders away.
Interestingly, though our center backs were plenty busy there, they saw very little of the ball. We essentially stopped playing out of the back in that way — it was an interesting departure from the norm, certainly.
It's also fascinating to note that Saborio had more passes than most of the back line — 29/37. It illustrates just how handy his hold-up play is. We often see him on the edge of the box doing that, and sometimes, it comes off really well. There was little of that tonight: He was too busy helping to build possession in the midfield. As such, Espindola and Paulo Jr. were both relied on in a markedly different way as they pushed forward and tried to lead the line.