The Seattle Sounders endured an embarrassing home loss to San Jose and survived a ravaged roster at Dallas. And yet here they are a month into this MLS season with a higher points total than they had at this point last season, when they went on to win the Supporters’ Shield.
That’s how quickly fortunes can change for a team that’s jumped to a 2-1-1 start after a 1-0 home win Saturday against rebuilding Houston.
About all that separated the Sounders and Dynamo were three seconds of brilliance from forward Obafemi Martins. But when that one amazing goal-of-the-week contender stood up through the final whistle, Seattle found itself with seven points, one better than after four games last season.
A few updated thoughts as the Sounders shift into game-week preparations for their coming trip to Los Angeles:
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DPs worthy of the title — and expense: There was a time when the high-profile weakness in the Sounders’ personnel-acquisition résumé was their stable of designated players. Blaise Nkufo, ugh; Christian Tiffert, eh; Alvaro Fernandez, hmm.
These days the club is three deep in four-star game-changers: Clint Dempsey, check; Obafemi Martins, check; Osvaldo Alonso, check. Or exclamations points.
On Saturday, all three shared the pitch for the first time this season. Dempsey and Martins combined for the lone goal, and Alonso helped preserve it in his season debut after a groin injury.
Four games into the season, Dempsey and Martins are the only Sounders to score, with three goals apiece. That has got to change. Lamar Neagle, Chad Barrett, Marco Pappa … any and all are going to need to start contributing goals. But until then, Dempsey and Martins have put the team on their backs, just as designated players are signed to do.
Interesting shift at left back: The up-and-down career of Dylan Remick took another uptick last week when he trained with the first team despite the apparent full health of Leo Gonzalez, the regular starter there since the expansion season.
Then Remick got the start and was part of the shutout against the Dynamo. If that signals any kind of changing of the guard, it’s a doubly interesting one: not just that Gonzalez was among the reserves, but that newcomer Andres Correa wasn’t the one to unseat him, as seemed possible in the preseason.
It’s also interesting that coach Sigi Schmid would be open to any unnecessary changes with a defense that seems to have found itself since that three-blunder disaster against the Earthquakes. Brad Evans has rebounded admirably. At Dallas, Zach Scott reminded anyone who needed reminding of just how solid he can be. Chad Marshall is back healthy. Tyrone Mears has fit in seamlessly. It didn’t seem to be a unit begging for change.
This will be a spot worth watching.
Wild West off to an intriguing start: Also worth watching are the Western Conference standings.
At just this little snapshot of the season, it’s hard to determine if the bigger surprise is Vancouver sitting on top at 4-1 — or the defending champion Galaxy below the playoff red line at 1-2-2.
Sounders fans will get a close-up look at this version of the Galaxy at 4 p.m. Sunday.