Of the eight Major League Soccer teams that have scored six or more goals this season, all but one also have at least four goal-scorers.
The exception is Seattle Sounders FC, whose six goals have come from just two players: forwards Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins.
Earlier this week, Sounders coach Sigi Schmid downplayed the issue as less a team concern than media overconcern.
“Some other guys score, that would be great,” Schmid said. “It would take the pressure off, certainly. But if other guys were getting the goals and DPs (designated players) weren’t scoring you’d be asking me how come your DPs aren’t scoring or why aren’t your forwards scoring. As long as we’re scoring, as a team, more goals than the opponents are scoring, I’m happy. I don’t care who scores the goals.”
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Schmid certainly is right that if Dempsey and Martins hadn’t scored by now, the media would be pointing that out.
However, the early-season reality is the other way around: six goals from two designated players, and none from anyone else.
And if that isn’t a problem in Seattle’s 2-1-1 start to the season, it certainly is a deviation from the league norm.
Heading into the weekend, the Vancouver Whitecaps lead MLS with nine goals, which have come from five players. After losing Friday’s match to Colorado, 4-0, Dallas was second with seven goals from four players. The Sounders’ six goals put them in a third-place tie with five other teams. But those other teams have shared the load far more evenly: five goal-scorers from Salt Lake, Kansas City and Toronto, four from San Jose and Portland.
There is nothing new about Dempsey and Martins carrying the load for Seattle. Last season, the club’s two highest-paid players combined for 32 of the 64 goals Seattle generated. Exactly half. Seventeen from Martins, 15 from Dempsey.
However, those two chief weapons were complemented by nine goals from Lamar Neagle, seven from Chad Barrett, six from Marco Pappa, three each from Gonzalo Pineda, Kenny Cooper and Andy Rose, and one from central defender Chad Marshall.
Throughout four games this season, all of those players except Cooper remain with the club, but none has scored. Only Pappa has put more than one shot on target.
“We have to shoot more to the goal, for sure,” Pappa said. “Maybe it is just the beginning of the season, and I hope that thing gets better. … We can also contribute to scoring goals by making assists from midfield. Of course we always want to score goals — even the defenders scoring goals — it can be good for us.”
On Friday, one day before the Sounders fly out to Los Angeles for their 4 p.m. Sunday meeting with the Galaxy, Schmid agreed.
“Being very frank, we need to get more from our wingers,” he said. “We need to get more production. We need to get more production from Neagle. He hasn’t had a good start to the season. But he’s a competent player. And we need to get the same from Marco. We need him to get on the score sheet as well, with goals and assists. So we definitely need to get them more. But they’re both training well. (Aaron) Kovar is an option out there. (Cristian) Roldan has played out there. But those guys have to be involved in the culmination of our attack as well.”