MLS Soccer

Despite slump, goal-hungry Sounders comfortable with preseason decisions

AP

Do the Seattle Sounders’ goal-scoring problems of July date back to the roster decisions of March?

The club doesn’t think so.

The Sounders are frustrated that Lamar Neagle and Chad Barrett have combined for only one goal over six matches without starters Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins. But the club notes that there is little to indicate that players such as former Sounders Kenny Cooper or Kevin Parsemain would have proven more productive.

Cooper has 75 career goals in Major League Soccer, including three last season as a Sounder. He was waived by Seattle in preseason and eventually signed with Montreal, where the Sounders will play Saturday. However, Cooper appeared in just one game with the Impact before suffering a right knee injury.

“The Kenny Cooper thing was one more of financial more than anything else,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “We’re a salary-cap league, and there are certain things that we could or couldn’t do. … And he wanted the opportunity where he could go somewhere where he could start. In retrospect, Kenny wouldn’t have been able to help us right now either because he’s been injured almost the whole time he’s been gone.”

Parsemain flashed potential while scoring five goals with the club over the 2014 and ’15 preseasons. But his 2014 season was cut short by injury, and then he and the club parted ways in March.

“Parsemain was a little bit of his decision as much as ours,” Schmid said. “… He wanted to get the opportunity to try with other teams. He had some trials — he had one with D.C. and one with somebody else — and he didn’t make either of those teams.”

Seattle went into this season with Dempsey and Martins ranking among the best forward tandems the league and Neagle and Barrett as proven goal scorers who could shift between midfield and forward.

Through 21 league games, they rank as Seattle’s top four goal scorers: Dempsey and Martins with seven each, Neagle with four and Barrett with three. However, Martins and Dempsey have missed six consecutive games due to injury, suspension and national team duty. Both will be out again this weekend. And over the stretch, Seattle has gone 1-5 while scoring only two goals: one by Neagle and another by defender Tyrone Mears.

After a 1-0 loss to Colorado on Saturday, Schmid called out both players, saying Neagle hadn’t put away his chances and Barrett had moved to a reserve role because “I don’t think (he) has played well.”

“We can’t make excuses for ourselves and just say it’s acceptable to lose for a month’s worth of games because we miss a couple of top guys,” general manager Garth Lagerwey said. “… We’ve given virtually everyone a chance. We gave Darwin (Jones) a chance, and we gave (Andy) Craven a chance, and I think Sig said in the postgame last week that Andy might have started the last game had he not been injured.”

Schmid said he watches each day in hope that someone to make a case for playing time.

“You want to see who’s banging away goals at training,” he said Tuesday. “And we didn’t need to replace the nets today — there weren’t that many goals flying in. We need to continue to train hard, continue for guys to find their confidence in training and scoring goals in training, and that will determine a lot on who’s playing.”

ADDED TIME

The Sounders fly Thursday to Montreal, which Schmid called the club’s toughest trip due to distance, international travel and a connection through Toronto. … Neagle, a native of Federal Way, on Wednesday was knighted “Prince of the Pitch” by Seafair’s King Neptune and Miss Seafair. … MLS fined Seattle midfielder Thomás an undisclosed amount for embellishment in the 58th minutes of the Colorado match.

SATURDAY: Seattle at Montreal,

5 p.m., JOEtv, 97.3-FM

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